A Well-Earned Win: Hershey Ends WBS Dominance at Giant Center

Posted February 5, 2012

Power to the Fourth Line! D-man Sean Collins puts Hershey on the board, while King earns his first AHL assist (and point!) of the year (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

I promised a more complete post-game of the Hershey win over the Baby Pens, so here it is – complete with tech specs that don’t normally see the light of day in a Caps Outsider post.  Most games don’t require multiple posts, but this one was special.  It was the first time that the Bears recorded a home win against the Baby Pens since March 27, 2010 – a period of 680 days.  Given the frequency with which the division rivals play (12 games this season; 10 games last season), the home games lost added up in a hurry.

When the puck dropped earlier today, Hershey was staring down the barrel of a double-digit losing streak.  It was to the great relief of everyone in the fanbase (and, one expects, the locker room) that Hershey broke the mold and walked away with the win.  If Hershey was only going to win one game this weekend, this was definitely the day to do it.

Good Things of the Night:

Goals (3 in Regulation)

1. Tech Specs: Sean Collins, with assists from D.J. King and Garrett Mitchell.

Best Bits: This goal marked D.J. King’s first point this year, and was a feather in the cap of a fourth line that’s been putting in some hard work recently.  While Andrew Carroll didn’t earn a point for his efforts in this game, he saw solid time on the PK in recognition of his dedication as well as consistent shifts throughout the game.

Worth Noting: Newcomer Kevin Marshall (he of the recent facial damage*) was the second defenseman on the ice at the time.  The official scoresheet lists Patrick McNeill as the second D-man of record, but the picture above shows otherwise.  If McNeill was on the ice when the goal occurred, he must have been in the midst of a line-change.

2. Tech Specs: Chris Bourque, with assists from Boyd Kane and Ryan Potulny.

Mike Carman's first goal with the club came at a good time, helping the Bears push the game into OT and later a shootout.

Best Bits: This was Bourque’s first goal since returning from the AHL All Star festivities.  It was also Potulny’s first point following the break.  The tally moved Hershey briefly into the lead, but the Pens managed to tie things up by the end of the first period at 2-2.

3. Tech Specs: Mike Carman, with assists from Graham Mink and Christian Hanson.

Best Bits: This was Mike Carman’s first goal with Hershey, and his second point since joining the team on Thursday evening.  He seems to be settling in well, even if he was on the ice for 2 goals against (one of them while on the power play).

Shootout! Whee! Wasn’t This an ASG Skill?

Hershey shot second, which meant that when Cody Eakin & Ryan Potulny put the Bears up 2-1 after the fourth round (AHL shootouts start at 5 rounds, not the NHL standard 3), Braden Holtby‘s knack for breakaways let him to bring home the win with a flourish.

Holtby stands fast during the shootout, allowing only one goal in five shots (1/5).

Grit Your Teeth & Bear It!

Kevin Marshall took a puck to the face in Saturday night’s game against the Connecticut Whale, leaving play midway through the second and not returning to the game.  Marshall was questionable prior to the Pens game, but gutted it out and played all three periods wearing a combination visor & partial bubble (pictured below).  Per Coach French, Marshall lost two teeth on Saturday, and further damage is still being assessed.

Kevin Marshall shows off his combination headgear.

Bad News Bears:  A few notes on the less-than-stellar end of things, because while enthusiasm is good, it’s important to keep things in perspective.

Power Play?  What’s that again?

As of the conclusion of this game, the Bears stand 0/11 on the man advantage in the last three games.  For a team who’s pre-ASG average was 1/3, it’s a worrisome number.  That being said, Hershey played a rough game tonight, and everyone out on the ice did their share of pushing and shoving.  There was no question that Hershey wanted the win, and they wanted it badly.

Gone, But Not Forgotten.

Yes, Keith Aucoin is away for the moment (and with Laich’s injury, his absence could end up being longer than previously expected.  It’s a great opportunity for the veteran center, and he’s certainly earned it).  And yes, he’s certainly an integral part of the special teams unit, but he’s only one man.  Hockey is a team sport, and good teams pull together and step up when their stars leave the lineup.

Hope Springs Eternal (and is Occasionally Justified):

Hershey’s been discombobulated since Aucoin’s call-up (and the coinciding trades), and it’s something that needs to sort itself out sooner rather than later.  But today’s game was filled with positive signs, poor PP performance and all.  With a little luck, the win will prove a stepping stone toward the kind of cohesion that good teams thrive on.

Further images from the game can be found here on flickr.