GAME DAY: Senators at Bears – 12/27

Greetings from the GC!

Your Hershey Bears are rolling at home, fans – and they are doing it without some of their top guns.  A 5-0 throttling over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last night in front of over 9,500 fans has the team tied for the second-most home wins (11) in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators coming into town tonight.

Here are my three takeaways from last night’s win, three things that need to continue against a Senators team that has won two straight for the first time all season:

1) Shot blocking.  Individual efforts last night that simply cannot go unnoticed: Ryan Stanton, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey.  Stanton was a machine on the penalty kill, stepping in front of many a Penguins shot; and collectively, I don’t think I’ve seen better hand-eye coordination from Bowey and Djoos, knocking passes and shots down out of mid-air with ease.

2) Discipline.  Take away the three third-period penalties last night and the Bears were guilty of just two over the first 45 minutes of action.  Binghamton came in stagnant on the power play over four previous games, but ripped off three power play goals last night in a win over the (struggling) Hartford Wolf Pack.  The Bears have to keep their focus, and in fact force Binghamton to the kill… the Sens lead the league in penalty minutes.

3) Fast start, fast finish.  Hershey rattled off a season-best four first-period goals back on December 12 against the Sens – and that was against Andrew Hammond.  But, Binghamton was allowed back into the game before the Bears ended the contest 5-3 winners.  The Bears didn’t let Wilkes-Barre/Scranton anywhere near a comeback last night, and that needs to continue.

Regarding Dan Ellis, all I can say is that he will dress as the backup tonight to Mark Dekanich, who makes his Bears debut in goal.  Read into that what you would like… but at least he can dress and skate.  Justin Peters, by the way, looked in great spirits after the team meeting this morning and after today’s rest day is expected to attempt practice tomorrow.

Chris Bourque will miss one more game tonight, but I think he could make his return as early as Tuesday per what Troy Mann said in his post game press conference last night.

One man who will make a return very soon is our captain, Garrett Mitchell, who has been cleared for full-contact practice.  I would think that means tomorrow.  Updates will come on him as soon as we get any.

Pre-game hits the air at 4:20, and the game notes are right here.