IN-GAME UPDATE: Phantoms 1 at Bears 5 – FINAL

Riding high in Chocolate Town. It has certainly been a productive past few weeks in the standings for the Hershey Bears, who enter Saturday’s match up against Lehigh Valley on a 10 game point streak. The Bears are 7-0-2-1 in their last 10, back to second place in the Atlantic Division, and are fresh off an impressive 6-2 blowout over Binghamton the previous night.

Hershey quickly set their sights on the Phantoms to clinch the weekend with a hopeful victory on home ice. Zach Sill had his stick slashed out of his hands 3:43 in, leading to a Bears power play. Chris Bourque pump faked a shot from the center point, quickly fed Travis Boyd on the wing, and Boyd would not miss.

Boyd beat Jason LaBarbera to the top-shelf for his 11th tally of the season at 4:10. Bourque doubled Hershey’s lead with 8:44 remaining in the opening frame. He rushed down the wing and buried a snapshot high past LaBarbera.

Into the second period, Boyd grabbed his second power play goal of the night at 9:18. Jakub Vrana slipped a pass across to Boyd, and a sprawling LaBarbera could not deny the University of Minnesota product.

Jakub Vrana added his third point of the night, and it was a dazzling goal to open the game to 4-0. On an offensive rush, Vrana released a snapshot as quick as lightning, completely fooling LaBarbera on his glove side.

Lehigh Valley got on the board with 3:51 to play before second intermission thanks to Aaron Palushaj. He turned on his jets, put a move on Justin Peters, and buried a shot from in close to cut the Phantoms’ deficit to three.

My pal Scott Stuccio may have to do some research on the last time the Hershey Bears scored back-to-back hat tricks on home ice. Hershey responded shortly after on a pretty deflection by Travis Boyd to complete the hat trick. Chandler Stephenson blasted a shot from center point, Boyd had the perfect redirection.

Even more impressive, both hat tricks were notched by rookies. It was Riley Barber on January 30th against Syracuse, and now Boyd tonight. Make it nine, second period goals by the Bears in the last two nights, as they carry a 5-1 advantage into the locker room.

Third period featured no scoring, and a 5-1 Hershey final over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Make it an 11 game point streak and an 8-0-2-1 record over the stretch.

For months, I’ve felt the Chocolate and White were a solid power play away from heavily competing on a nightly basis. Two more power play goals tonight, and it’s the difference between the “worst lead in hockey” at two goals, and a comfy four goal lead.

The point steak is also a tribute to depth scoring. Hershey has recently showed the ability to role four offensive lines, all with high scoring capabilities. Defensive play has also been remarkable of late. We are seeing the D-Men clog the middle lane of the ice, avoiding Grade “A” scoring chances against.

See you tomorrow!

Submitted by intern Matt Trust 

It Needs to Happen Again – 2/6

The Hershey Bears – Lehigh Valley Phantoms season series is already nine games deep.  The teams will square off three more times – two more here at GIANT Center.

What happened last night at Binghamton needs to happen again for the Chocolate and White in tonight’s matchup with their in-state rivals.

I’m not sure any other team (Toronto?) is going to put up a six-goal period during the remainder of this AHL season, and we certainly are not expecting the Bears to duplicate that feat.  But the Phantoms are due to be handed a game from the Bears like the Senators had last night in Binghamton.  The team knows they can score goals, especially against the Phantoms.  They did it 31 times in the nine games played so far.  Trouble is they allowed 35.  And that doesn’t sit well with the coaching staff.

It’s no surprise that the biggest key to victory tonight is the ability to buckle up defensively against the Phantoms.  Leading scorer Nick Cousins is on NHL recall.  Leading goal scorer Petr Straka is out with an injury.  But that, as we well know, doesn’t matter at all.  The Phantoms have a number of offensive weapons, including rookies Cole Bardreau and Danick Martel, who now leads the AHL rookies in goal scoring with 17.

Justin Peters gets the net tonight for the Bears.  Look for Joey Leach to draw back in on defense as Mike Moore will be the veteran scratch for the team.

Lastly, congratulations to winger Paul Carey, who scored his first career NHL goal earlier today for the Capitals in a 3-2 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils.  The goal tied the game, forced overtime and allowed Alex Ovechkin to seal the win.  Couldn’t be any more proud of our #28.

Game notes for tonight’s Bears-Phantoms matchup are right here.  The pre-game show hits the air at 6:20.

Talk to you soon fans!  GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc

Without a Power Play, Bears Bombard B-Sens – 2/5

What a night in Binghamton.

All you need to do is look at the box score, and you will see an incredible run of offense that vaulted the Hershey Bears past the Binghamton Senators at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

What you might not notice without digging pretty deep are these points:

1) The Bears scored six second-period goals on seven shots.  If there happens to be a visiting team fan reading this, how would you like to have a shooting percentage of .857?  The Bears did get one more shot on goal before the end of the period and Senators goaltender Matt O’Connor mercifully stopped it.  The Bears would finish the second period with a shooting percentage of .750.  Five players had a multiple-point game (period).

2) The Bears did not have a power play in the game.  In fact, the Senators were not handed one penalty minute – not a single one.  The last time that happened, Martin Brodeur wasn’t even a Utica Devil yet.  But the Devils were the Bears’ opponent at the Memorial Auditorium on March 9, 1990, and they did not take a single penalty.

3) Dan Ellis was unreal again tonight.  His shutout streak was five periods deep and it looked like it would go six – most especially when he flat-out stole a goal from Colin Greening.  The latter was set up about 15 feet out from the top-left of Ellis’ crease when he one-timed a shot toward the right post.  Ellis got his glove in front of the shot and kept it in front of the goal line to keep Binghamton at bay, and send Greening’s eyes to the ceiling in disbelief.

4) Hershey has scored five or more goals in three straight games, and in four of its last five, to move into fourth in the league in goals per game average.

5) The Bears matched their season high for goals in a single game, all within a span of 12:40.

6) The club joined the Charlotte Checkers as the only other team to produce a six-goal period this season.

Hear all the goals right here, and hopefully it gets you primed up to join us at the GIANT Center tomorrow as the Bears host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:00 PM.

 

And courtesy of the Binghamton Senators and my colleague Grady Whittenburg, here are tonight’s highlights on video.

 

See you tomorrow everyone! GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc

 

Chandler Stephenson Returns – 2/5

Hello from Binghamton!

First, let’s begin with this morning’s roster moves:

(http://capitalstoday.monumentalnetwork.com/2016/02/05/capitals-recall-carey-and-carrick-from-hershey-re-assign-ness-and-sill)

Aaron Ness’ return was obvious once Taylor Chorney ended up in last night’s Caps lineup against the New York Islanders.  It was announced as an emergency recall when he was called up in the first place.

Zach Sill’s return, not surprisingly, seems to have disappointed a lot of Caps fans.  He has definitely been an asset in the NHL lineup, but is just one game away from having to clear waivers to return to Hershey if summoned again in the future.

Still having the need for an extra defenseman (Brooks Orpik is still out) and an extra forward (Marcus Johansson is still out), Connor Carrick and Paul Carey were recalled earlier today – well-deserved for both players.

Carrick had a heck of a month of two-way hockey in January and all of a sudden has risen to the top of the Bears’ lead in plus-minus (+18).  Head coach Troy Mann said that – coupling that official plus-minus number with the coaching staff’s post-game rankings – Carrick has definitely been playing the best hockey of his season, if not of the last two seasons.

For Carey, he started to hit a stride in point production again, posting seven points (1-6-7) in his last six games.  He impressed on his last recall and hopefully will get a shot again as the Caps head on the road starting tomorrow.

Two weeks ago at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, the Bears got a player back from a three-month injury absence: forward Jakub Vrana.  Tonight, another player makes a long-awaited return – one who hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve.

After 13 games’ worth of recuperation, Chandler Stephenson returns.

The original plan was described by Mann in a chat I had with him yesterday:

Since Sill was recalled, Stephenson did not skate after practice with assistant coach Bryan Helmer as Mann mentioned.  Instead, he took regular line rushes with Liam O’Brien and Garrett Mitchell, the trio that had so much success in last spring’s playoff run.

And tonight he plays.

Will he play tomorrow again, in the game that was originally supposed to be his first?  I would guess it all depends on tonight.  But my gut says yes, he will.

Game notes for tonight’s contest against the Binghamton Senators are set here.

In case you don’t read them before finishing this post, how about the stat involving Dan Ellis?  Two weeks ago, he stopped all 30 shots to become the first Hershey goaltender since Michal Neuvirth (3/27/09) to shut out Binghamton at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Here is that game, by the way.

Not a bad night.  47 saves for Neuvirth.  The 19th goal of the season for Chris Bourque.  (By the way, two weeks ago, Bourque scored his 19th goal of this season too.  Check it out.)

And oh yeah… only the 52nd goal of Alexandre Giroux’s season….

Talk to you at 6:25.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Crunch 1 at Bears 5 – FINAL

The Hershey Bears returned to GIANT Center to complete a home-and-home stretch against the Syracuse Crunch. It was a happy ride home from up north for the Chocolate and White last night to set up tonight’s match up.

Both teams scored a power play, shorthanded and 4-on-4 goal in last night’s 5-3 win for Hershey. After traveling down I-81, the Bears’ were poised for a similar outcome to conclude their weekend.

Great offensive jump for Hershey in the opening frame, with quick, unpredictable and effective breakouts from their defensive zone. In a crisp entry, Riley Barber hit the goal post on a snap shot that beat Kristers Gudlevskis.

Syracuse struck iron in the period as well. The iron of the back crossbar. After review, Andrew Yogan scored his first goal as a Syracuse Crunch at 15:57. Initial call was no goal and played continued for an additional two minutes before the chance for video review.

Luckily the Chocolate and White answered with 1:51 left in the opening frame. Riley Barber made perfect centering pass from near the goal line to Nathan Walker. Walker buried his ninth of the season to knot the contest before intermission.

The Bears gained their first lead of the night at the 14:58 mark of the middle period thanks to a relentless effort in the slot by Dustin Gazley. From between the face off circles, a Gazley backhand shot was blocked away and deflected to the goal line. Gazley raced to the loose puck and fed Carter Camper in the low slot. Camper buried his seventh goal of the season to give Hershey a lead in the later stages of the stanza.

Minutes later, Barber received his second scoring chance of the night, and unlike the previous, Barber did not miss. On a 2-on-1 rush with Scott Gomez, Gomez fed Barber, and the Miami University of Ohio product made it 3-1 Bears.

Great work ethic up the entire Hershey lineup led to the pair of late goals.

The work ethic continued into the third period, as Barber added his second goal of the night 1:01 into the period on the power play. He completed the hat trick with 25 seconds left by hitting the empty net, sending 10,964 fans home happy in a 5-1 win.

Scott Gomez added three more assists and has continued to bring a true veteran presence to the lineup.

But overall, it was a complete game effort in all aspects of the game. The goaltending in Dan Ellis was great, as he was worthy of third star honors. The penalty kill was perfect, the power play provided a dagger of a goal in the third period, and Hershey outplayed Syracuse when 5-on-5.

The Bears now have points in nine straight games with six being wins, and are now second in the Atlantic Division heading into the All-Star Break.

Rolling in Chocolate Town!

Submitted by intern Matt Trust

Be-Deviled; Bears at Crunch – 1/29

Greetings from the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, the home of the upcoming Sunday-Monday AHL All-Star Classic.  After a tough setback in overtime on Wednesday against the Albany Devils, the Bears look to move their unbeaten streak to eight games, as the club is now 4-0-2-1 in its last seven.

It’s no secret that this place has cursed the Bears.  Hershey’s last win was a strong one – a 4-1 decision – but it was over two years ago (January 24, 2014).

Syracuse is without its leading scorer Jeff Tambellini (16-12-28) and without its Bear-killer Tye McGinn (five goals).  The team has six scratches, five of which are injuries.  Sound familiar?  (Lehigh Valley, anyone?)

It’s time to put an end to the skid in this building.  The last road game before the break gets underway shortly.

Click here for tonight’s game notes and broadcast information.

For Hershey, Jakub Vrana sits out the first of a two-game suspension handed down from the AHL for a crosschecking incident on Wednesday.  Dustin Gazley is back in up front.  And with Ryan Stanton back from Washington, the Bears are one over the veteran limit, so Mike Moore will rest tonight.  Troy Mann says he should play tomorrow, meaning someone else will come out as the teams rematch at the GC.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc

 

IN-GAME UPDATE: Bears 1 at Devils 1 – End 2nd

After two periods here in New York’s Capital District, the Bears have pulled even with the Albany Devils.

It’s no secret that the strong New Jersey defense of years’ past is still hanging around with the talent on the Albany blue line, but the Bears have truly owned the five-on-five possession and rush play despite being outshot 19-8.  After a first-period power play goal from the AHL leader Mike Sislo, Erik Burgdoerfer tied the game after taking a nice feed from Scott Gomez.

Here is the audio of the goals:

GO BEARS!

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Phantoms 6 at Bears 5 – FINAL/SO

Monday Night Hockey. It has a nice ring to it. The Hershey Bears made up their Saturday night showdown against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at GIANT Center, after the “Blizzard of 2016” struck Pennsylvania.

To kick off the night, the Chocolate and White possessed the puck well in the offensive end, but couldn’t find the grade “A” scoring chance. It led to a 9-8 shot advantage for Hershey after 20 minutes, but nothing to show on the scoreboard. Also an 0-for-4 in the stanza on the power play capped the period scoring woes.

With 48 seconds to play in the first period, Lehigh Valley stormed down ice with a shorthanded scoring chance, and they capitalized. After Taylor Leier rang the iron on a hard shot, Cole Bardreau pounced on the loose puck to beat Justin Peters.

Into the middle frame, the goals quickly began to fall like snowflakes. Both teams scored three unanswered goals, leading to a Lehigh Valley 4-3 lead after 40 minutes. It started with Mike Moore at the 7:11 mark, with a snap shot from the outside that beat Anthony Stolarz.

Madison Bowey picked up an assist on Moore’s tally, and grabbed a goal of his own just 90 seconds later. Bowey made a run from the point to the low slot, quickly received a pass from Sean Collins and capitalized in close. It became 3-1 Hershey with 9:45 left in the period thanks to Paul Carey. He scored top shelf after a crisp feed from Scott Gomez.

But as we have seen all season long against the Phantoms, a two goal lead is never safe. With 6:41 remaining, Bardreau picked up his second goal of the night, and in similar fashion to the first. Following a stop by Justin Peters, Bardreau again crashed the crease and finished the loose change.

2:21 left on the clock, David Drewiske tied the hockey game at 3-3. Sure enough the momentum game continued in Lehigh Valley’s favor, and special teams have them a late 4-3 lead before intermission. After a Riley Barber hooking minor at the 18:45 mark, Taylor Leier scored just seven seconds into the man-advantage.

Special teams is certainly the difference through two periods. The Bears are 0-for-5 on the power play, 2-for-3 on the PK, and have yielded a shorthanded goal.

The wildness continued into the third period, as the Phantoms gained a 5-3 advantage on the power play. Garrett Mitchell was sent to the box for a high sticking double minor, and Lehigh Valley scored once more on the man-advantage. Colin McDonald received credit for the goal at the 4:14 mark.

Hershey once again displayed great, third period resiliency at home and fought back to tie the hockey game. Travis Boyd notched his ninth of the season with 6:54 left, followed by a Chris Bourque power play goal 1:11 later. Bourque’s tally was Hershey’s lone goal on eight power play tries.

An entertaining, 3-on-3 overtime solved nothing, leading to the Bears’ eighth shootout of the season. Their record falls to 2-6 on the campaign in the three round skills competition, as the Bears fell 6-5 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Submitted by intern Matt Trust

The Blizzard Aftermath: Phantoms at Bears – 1/25

Greetings everyone!

Sincere apologies for the delay in posting.  Technical issues prevented me from putting up details of the matchup on Friday against the Binghamton Senators.  If you missed it, the Bears blanked the B-Sens by a score of 4-0.  Dan Ellis was tremendous, stopping all 30 shots he faced.

And that top line…. just…. WOW:

Paul Carey (3 assists) – Scott Gomez (1 goal, 1 assist) – Chris Bourque (1 goal, 2 assists)

To top it off, the trio was a combined plus-NINE in the game.  That will win 101% of the time.

Here is the audio from the game, with a few Ellis saves mixed in:

After traveling back from Binghamton directly into the path of the beginning of the 2016 Blizzard, we made it to Hershey (stick taps to Ronny, the BEST bus driver around, for getting us all back safely) at 2:30 am.  A normal three-hour ride took just over four-and-a-half.

News spread late Friday night that Saturday’s game would most likely be put on the back burner.  Great decision by Doug Yingst in conjunction with the AHL.  Nobody was getting here… many weren’t even getting out of their houses.

Then came Saturday afternoon, when the news came down that Sunday’s game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers would also be rescheduled.  2 to 2 1/2 feet of snow will do that, as many people are finding out even at the time of this writing – some locations are still not plowed out.

The nightmare storm left central Pennsylvania with brilliant sunshine in its wake.  Sunday was a day to dig out, let PennDOT and the community cleanup crews do their jobs, and just sit and reflect a bit on how lucky many of us were.

And here we are, playing on a Monday at home for the first time in over eight years.  The last Monday home game: New Year’s Eve, 2007, vs. Philadelphia.  The game is the makeup from Saturday.  The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are the opponents.

Here are the game notes for this contest.  It’s one team on a roll (Bears are 4-0-1-0 in their last five) and another trying to get on one (Phantoms are 1-5-0-0 in their last six).

Let’s just say that the Bears won’t be planning on allowing 27 third-period shots this time around.

The puck drops at 7, and pre-game airs at 6:20.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Falcons 3 at Bears 2 – FINAL/OT

The Hershey Bears closed out the weekend on Sunday evening, determined to sweep the week in a rematch against the Springfield Falcons. Similar to last night, the Bears drew first blood, only to see Springfield answer back.

Following a pass in the trapezoid behind the net from Chris Brown, Dustin Gazley banked a low shot into the net after hitting goalie Niklas Treutle. Gazley’s second goal of the weekend came at the 6:39 mark, but the lead would last less than a minute. Greg Carey scored for the second time in as many nights for the Falcons to tie the game.

Just like last night, both teams entered the dressing room at first intermission with a goal a side.

To continue the theme comparing last night’s tilt to tonight, Springfield grabbed a second period lead once more. Alex Grant tallied for the on a blast with 12:36 to play in the period.

Shortly after, Madison Bowey was leveled dangerously into the boards providing the Chocolate and White a five minute power play work with. Following a two power play goal game last night, the Bears were unable to cash in on the long advantage.

Once more, the Bears trail the Falcons by one goal heading into the third period.

Travis Boyd played the role of Chris Bourque and tied the hockey game with 7:42 left in regulation. It forced overtime, and Hershey claimed their fifth point of the weekend. Unfortunately the point gain on the weekend ended at five, as the Falcons capitalized in the 3-on-3 overtime.

41 seconds into the extra frame, Dustin Jeffrey banged home a loose puck behind Justin Peters to round out a 3-2 final.

Regardless, five out of six standings points on the weekend is nothing to frown about. In addition, a roster filled with young guns continue to show excellent resiliency in the third period, battling back and eating standings points.

Submitted by intern Matt Trust