When the appearance of one of the opposing players is the highlight of the evening, you know it was a long night for the Hershey Bears. Andrew Gordon returned to Hershey, this time as a member of the St. John’s IceCaps. Gordon got two ovations while doing his pre-game ritual on the bench and another when introduced as a part of the IceCaps starting lineup. His team then handed the Bears their 7th home loss in ten games 4-2.
St. John’s dominated the first part of the opening period, outshooting Hershey 8-1 in the first nine minutes. The Bears tried to clear the puck and passed it right to the Icecaps Patrice Cormier to make it 1-0. The Bears came back scoring seven minutes later when Juilen Brouillette’s shot was redirected by Peter LeBlanc to tie the game at one.
But that was the last of the goals that counted for Hershey. The Bears looked flat and lacked energy in giving up three straight goals to the Icecaps and went down 4-1. Ryan Stoa scored a goal that had little meaning in the final seconds to make the final 4-2. Although some of the losses were shootout and overtime defeats, the Bears have lost seven of their ten home games.
“Our compete level was nowhere near where it needs to be,” said a disappointed bears Coach Mike Haviland after the game. “They came out with a bunch of energy and got pucks behind us. We didn’t match their energy until the nine minute mark of the first period. We looked slow and couldn’t get any forecheck going.”
Hershey was one for eight on the power play and also missed a two man advantage opportunity “We had too many passengers tonight, way too many. It’s just a common theme right now. We’ve moved guys in and out of the lineup. Guys have gone in and done nothing with it. Guys have gone out to wake up and done nothing with it. I don’t know what guys are waiting for.”
Haviland did say his team competes much better on the road, but right now Hershey is struggling to find energy at home. The Bears are holding last place in the AHL East and just 17 games into the season find themselves 12 points behind first place Binghamton. All that combined with Dmitry Orlov requesting to be traded from the Capitals organization, is likely to have the Bears shuffling lineup changes. The Bears have back to back games this weekend starting Saturday against the Penguins and Sunday against the P-Bruins.