With a snow storm approaching the central PA area Sunday night, it couldn’t have been a better time for Hershey’s first 4pm start time to a Sunday Giant Center tilt.
The Hershey Bears closed out their season series with the Charlotte Checkers Sunday in front of 9,942 fans at Giant Center.
On a night where the first 3,000 fans received a baseball cap promotion sponsored by Capital BlueCross, Charlotte’s Zach Boychuk notched a hat-trick in a 6-3 win over Hershey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The American Hockey League has announced that forward Ryan Stoa has been suspended for one game. In Saturday night’s game against Bridgeport, a “slew-footing incident” occurred which Stoa was involved in. The 26-year-old scored a goal and one assist in Hershey’s win over the Sound Tigers.
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.
It may not show in the standings just yet, but at the halfway point of the AHL season, the Hershey Bears have developed some valuable momentum. Saturday night at Giant Center, the Bears pulled out a 5-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The victory gave the Bears their fifth win in the last seven games.