Everything seemed to be going so well. The Hershey Bears had won 12 straight at home and 5 straight overall. They were vaulting toward first place. And now in a five game span, the Bears have hit their worst slump of the season. The latest loss was a 4-1 defeat Saturday night at the hands of a team that’s also been struggling, the Charlotte Checkers.
The Giant Center goal horn was held silent on Saturday night when the Syracuse Crunch blanked the Bears by a 5-0 count. It ended a 12 game Giant Center win streak for the Chocolate and White, but eyes quickly turned towards an opportunity for revenge the next night.
Sunday was the second annual AHL Showcase held at Verizon Center in our nation’s capital. Last year Ryan Potulny was the hero en route to a 2-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals.
This year the Bears-Crunch battled in Washington D.C. only days before resumption of National Hockey League play. The Tampa Bay Lightning lead affiliate potted five more goals on Philipp Grubauer for the second consecutive night and topped Hershey, 5-2.
Although the Hershey Bears entered Saturday ten places above the Syracuse Crunch in the Eastern Conference standings, four of their five previous meetings this season were decided by a lone goal.
Seeking their 13th consecutive victory on Giant Center ice, the winning streak snapped with a 5-0 defeat to the Syracuse Crunch.
HERSHEY, PA – Philipp Grubauer warms up prior to a Bears game earlier this season. He stopped four of five Albany shootout attempts in a 3-2 Hershey win on the Boardwalk (Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
Every year, thousands of American football fans lose a pocket full of money after making foolish bets on the Super Bowl. Then of course you have that one jerk, who watches three games a season, makes and outrageous bet and picks Seattle to win by a 35 point spread and pockets several figures of cash that night. Only in America.
It’s a question mark whether there are AHL fans who bet on regular season matches, but if that were the case, the Hershey Bears have proven to be a safe bet thus far in 2014. Following a 3-2 shootout win Friday night against the Albany Devils, the Bears improved to a fantastic 14-4-1-0 record in the new year.
As many know, we are in a current time stretch where football season has concluded, the countdown to Spring Training is in full throttle, and where fans continuously fall asleep on their sofa attempting to watch the NBA.
But at the American Hockey League level, the Hershey Bears enter a crucial eight week stretch of their schedule which takes them to April. It is a stretch which will truly decide whether playoff hockey will once again return to Hershey for a ninth consecutive season.
Sunday the Bears battled the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the weekend finale, looking for four out of six standings points in the weekend. Dustin Gazley scored 47 second into overtime to down the Penguins in a Giant Center classic.
In 2009, the Hershey Bears dropped the Manitoba Moose in six games to win the Calder Cup. Shortly after the cup clinching game, “Count ‘Em Ten” T-shirts were released to the general public to celebrate the franchise’s tenth Calder Cup Championship.
Saturday night, fans gained the right to break out the former catch phrase in honor of not the Bears’ tenth Cup, but their tenth consecutive victory on Giant Center ice. Dane Byers scored a third period game-winning-goal, and the Chocolate and White celebrated a 2-1 over the Portland Pirates.
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.
Every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named Phil pops out of a hole to determine the weather for the next six weeks. If it’s sunny, then Phil is “scared” back into his hole for 6 more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, an early arrival of spring will arrive upon our country. The tradition is as crazy as the jerseys that trainer Dan “Beaker” Stuck designed.
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.
If you were to compare the weekend schedules of the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, it’s easy to predict the Bears might have had an edge entering Sunday.
The Chocolate and White kicked off the weekend with a home-and-home series beginning in Syracuse on Friday. Back-to-back wins over the Crunch including a Saturday 3-2 win at Giant Center built towards the hype of Sunday’s contest against Wilkes-Barre.