The winner of tomorrow's South Carolina Stingrays and Wheeling Nailers game will...
Hershey Bears Rally to the Towel, Shut Out B!Sens 3-0.
Hershey likes their rally towels. They give them away regularly throughout the season, often at Baby Pens games. Tonight, the Binghamton Senators (or B!Sens – in contrast to their parent club, the Ottawa Senators) came to town, standing just shy of last place in the division and with a brand new giant of a goalie named Ben Bishop (he really does stand 6′ 7″ tall when barefoot). In an effort to cast off the dark shadow of February’s losses, Hershey did the smart thing and busted out the towels. Five games is a long time to go without a win, road trip or not.
The Good News: It worked.
Hershey came out strong, dominating the ice to the point where the B!Sens couldn’t get a shot in edgewise until nearly 11 minutes into the period. The Bears authoritatively parked themselves on the scoreboard two minutes later on a blue line shot from Kyle Greentree, and the boys in chocolate and white never looked back.
The win tonight was a group effort, with the team as a whole placing an emphasis on staying out of the penalty box and keeping the puck out of their own defensive zone. All three Hershey goals were scored at even strength, and came from the second “veteran” line – Ryan Potulny, Graham Mink, and the above-mentioned Kyle Greentree.
While it’s true that Hershey took care not to land in the box -resulting in a game with zero fighting majors and 4 minor penalties assessed against the team – one particular incident is worth taking a moment to mention. Joel Rechlicz played on the fourth line tonight, and (as he is known to do) jumped into the fray when Garrett Mitchell got into a sticky situation involving several B!Sens. What makes tonight special is that this time, he not only jumped – he flew:
As one can see, even with the effort toward careful play it’s not that the Power Play unit(s) didn’t have their chances tonight. But for both teams, time spent with the man advantage was a quiet affair. Mike McKenna did a decent job of holding down the fort in the B!Sens net, which helped, and neither team seemed able to find that intangible “a-ha!” moment while playing pass-the-puck (Ben Bishop watched the game from the bench, having backstopped a 5-2 victory last night). The other notable silence was from current scoring leader Chris Bourque, whose only appearance on the scoresheet was 3 shots on goal (Hershey had 38 in total; Binghamton had 17).
Because no recap of a shut-out is complete without the main attraction, I give you Braden Holtby and his 17 saves. Tonight marks Holtby’s first win since his February 18th visit to Manchester (a 2-1 victory), and with Capitals Associate Goaltending Coach Olie Kolzig in the house and Tomas Vokoun day-to-day, it’s possible his performance has earned him a guest appearance in Washington tomorrow.
The Stingrays are now off until Tuesday, when they play the Trenton Titans at home in Charleston. Both Hershey (5PM v. Springfield Falcons) & Washington (7PM v. Philadelphia Flyers)will be hitting the ice tomorrow night.
Monday is “Clear Day,” meaning that at 3PM final rosters will be in place for the spring playoff runs for AHL clubs like the Bears. I’m going to mention Maxime Lacroix here, because he was on last year’s Clear Day roster for the Bears, and he was called up to the Bears since first line center Keith Aucoin was recalled to Washington on the 28th.
In related personnel matters, Hershey currently has two forwards on the mend. Christian Hanson will be out for a while due to the wrist surgery he had last Friday (Feb 24). Jacob Micflikier was injured this past Wednesday, but the word on the street is that he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
More images from the night’s game can be found here on the author’s flickr.