Greetings from the GC!
First things first, in case you missed it on Friday. Dan Ellis made 37 saves for his 19th win of the season, including one that I’m still trying to get a hold of that would top all highlight reels this season, and the Bears went on to a 5-2 win over the Toronto Marlies.
The Bears became just the eighth team this season to figure out the Marlies, handing the league leaders only their 10th regulation loss of 2015-16.
By the way, how mad were the Marlies after that loss? Check out what they put up on the Rochester Americans yesterday. Toronto became the first team since the Bears (May 1 of last season) to score 10 in a game. For me, it’s not so much that the Marlies scored 10 goals. It’s the fact that they gave up five through 40 minutes.
I think teams know their weakness right now.
Highlights of the Bears’ win are available here. Chris Bourque, Dustin Gazley and Jakub Vrana all recorded two-point games in the contest. A nice 31st win for the Bears, but don’t call it “lucky number 13” on the road. That one was an entire team effort.
Now to the task at hand tonight with the Utica Comets in town.
Both the Comets and Bears are looking for a sweep. Last night, the Comets may seem to have squeaked by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a 2-1 decision, but check out the shots on net. Utica clearly was the better team. Anthony Stolarz almost stole one for the Phantoms.
Utica has not yet defeated Hershey in three franchise tries – once in their inaugural pre-season and twice this season. They are missing their old leading scorer, Hunter Shinkaruk, who was dealt last week to the Calgary Flames. They also have three key injuries in former Bears defenseman Jon Landry, center Blair Jones and gritty forward Wacey Hamilton. Hershey put up four goals on Joe Cannata back on January 10 and added two empty-netters, so that game was closer than the score looked.
The one interesting thing that could happen today is that all three members of the organization could lead their respective divisions. The Washington Capitals are in the Windy City battling the Chicago Blackhawks as I write this; the South Carolina Stingrays are in Estero taking on the Florida Everblades, tied in standings points but officially in second place. The Rays won their last two in a row against the Blades and could take over the South Division in the ECHL with a win in their 5:00 PM matchup.
And the Bears? They can lead the Atlantic for the first time this season with a win tonight and a(nother) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins loss. The Springfield Falcons rolled over the Penguins 5-2 last night in Massachusetts, and now the Penguins face the Providence Bruins at the end of a three-in-three at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
If you’re so inclined to check out how close teams are to the playoffs, the AHL has revived the Playoff Primer – a great bulletin board-worth of information. Check it out.