There are 11 games remaining in the regular season for the Hershey Bears, who are now five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot. That’s not an impossible obstacle to overcome, but the Bears current slump is making the road to the playoffs even harder. Hershey dropped two of three this weekend with back-to-back losses in Worcester on Saturday and in Manchester on Sunday afternoon.
It was an odd Friday night around the American Hockey League to kickoff a three game weekend, and one that was slightly beneficial to the Hershey Bears Hockey Club despite a 2-1 shootout defeat to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Peter LeBlanc scored Hershey’s lone goal with 1:04 remaining in an end-to-end second period. David Leggio was superb and earned third star honors from stopping 34 of 35 shots through 65 minutes.
Which is of the following is more abnormal– The Hershey Bears wearing Groundhog Day jerseys in their Sunday game against Norfolk, or Groundhog Day combining with Super Bowl Sunday?
Regardless the answer, at an early 2pm start time the Bears faced the Anaheim Ducks’ top affiliate, Norfolk Admirals. Nearly 24 hours after the Adirondack Phantoms snapped Hershey’s overall six game winning streak, the Bears extended their home win streak to nine games in a 3-1 win over the Admirals.
Perhaps the Hershey Bears are trying to make a statement to the schedule makers. Three games in 31 hours is very unusual in any league. But when the Bears played Adirondack in Philadelphia, they were going for their seventh straight victory and second in an 18 hour span. In the first game with the Phantoms, the Bears came up with a 5-3 victory Friday night in Glens Falls, beating the Phantoms to keep their winning streak alive.
We can all appreciate a sports season that is evenly split between two calendar years. It provides every team with a chance to start fresh and turn the page if it’s felt necessary.
In 2013, the Hershey Bears struggled to stay above the .500 mark in the AHL standings, had a power play unit ranked near the league’s worst and floated near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
But into the final Saturday of 2014′s opening month, the Bears suddenly hit a power surge bringing them to 20 wins at the 40 game mark. A sudden six game Giant Center win streak and a climb in the special teams rankings has helped Hershey to their recent success. Entering Saturday’s contest against Syracuse, the Chocolate and White had the best point percentage (.750%) in their previous ten games compared to all other Eastern Conference teams.
An impressive angle on Friday’s win in New York was winning by a three goal margin despite going 0-for-5 on the improving power play unit. In the next night’s rematch, the power play was blanked once more, but Michael Latta’s two goals lifted Hershey to a thrilling 3-2 win.
The Hershey Bears battled the Albany Devils for the second time in as many weeks Sunday night. The Bears entered riding a 5-2-1-0 record in 2014. A win would up-lift Hershey into the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Chocolate and White also entered with a five game winning streak on Giant Center ice.
A two-goal, third period comeback lifted the Bears for the second time this season over Albany by a 4-3 shootout final.
We are five days into the new year, but we still have sometime to look back on 2013. Today, I took 26 of my favorite shots from the year and looked back on them. Above, probably my favorite photo from the year; Tom Wilson celebrating his first professional goal. The image captures Wilson’s excitement of getting the goal at a professional level for the first time, plus the excitement of the Bears faithful as Wilson scored the goal ahead goal in Game 4 of the first round series between Hershey and the Providence Bruins.
Within the last five seasons, the Hershey Bears have beaten the Worcester Sharks only once in five attempts on Giant Center ice. Both teams met Saturday in Chocolate Town for the first time this season. On Joel Rechlicz bobble-fist night, Rechlicz did not engage in an altercation, but rather took a crucial first period charging minor leading to Worcester’s second goal of the game. The Bears later fell by a 3-2 count/
After an unsuccessful comeback Friday night, the Chocolate and White tried to bounce back against Binghamton on a snowy night in Hershey. With former 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Michal Neuvirth back between the pipes for the Bears, Hershey was on their a-game, scoring seven goals on 41 shots, winning 7-4 over the Senators.
There’s no place like home for the holidays. That old song might turn into the theme over the next week for the Hershey Bears. The Bears head into this afternoon’s game against Binghamton on a solid points streak that is slowly moving them out of last place in the AHL East.