Bears Emulate Their Big Brothers (and Outshine Them, for a Brief Moment)

Posted November 26, 2011

Andrew Carroll takes a breather. (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

It comes as no surprise that Hershey Bears fans love their specialty jerseys.  When the Bears had their Pink in the Rink night, the follow-up auction of the special jerseys raised over $28,000 dollars. Tonight the Bears step outside of their normal wardrobe and into the footsteps of their big brothers, the Capitals.  And despite what ended up being a 5-4 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters (affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche), the Bears were clearly the ones setting an example tonight with regards to “how to behave when things go wrong.”

The Jerseys (WIN!):

The jerseys were the best part of the evening, even if they did clash with the traditional maroon hockey pants and gloves worn by the players.  The design was simple, taking the distinctive red & white Caps jerseys and strategically inserting the Hershey Bears logo, with the affiliate-logo in place of the Weagles on the original jersey.  Following the game, they were auctioned off with the proceeds to benefit charity.  A gallery of images can be found at the end of this post.

The Game (Regulation Loss):

The game started off flying, with the Bears leading 3-1 by the end of the first.  Things were a bit rough-and-tumble on a few occasions, with the officials electing to take a hands-on approach for everything except active confrontations.  The Bears hung onto the lead in the second, giving up only a single goal.  So far, so good, right?

With 20 seconds left in the third period, things deteriorate by the Hershey net. A Lake Erie goal would eventually be declared.

The problems came in the third, when the Monsters scored twice in four minutes to take the lead (and for the first time this year, Hershey has given up two power-play goals at home).  Hershey’s offense spun their wheels fruitlessly (but actively) until finally tying things up with 53 seconds left in the game.  Normally, this would mean problem solved, everyone goes on to OT and after the fact will proceed to grouse about how shootouts ruin the fun of hockey.

The Monsters had other plans, which included running Dany Sabourin (without penalty) and a multiple man pileup in front of the net which would eventually result in a goal (along with coincidental roughing penalties and a game misconduct for abuse of officials for Captain Boyd Kane – his second game misconduct in two nights).

An altercation erupts in front of the Lake Erie net, with 7 seconds remaining. Graham Mink is on the bottom of the ref-pile.

It’s possible to score with 20 seconds on the clock, and Hershey made a concerted effort, but when things deteriorated again (this time in front of the Lake Erie net), Alternate Graham Mink stepped up and earned himself a roughing minor, a 10 minute misconduct for abuse of officials, and a standing ovation from the crowd.

The Example:

Despite a lackluster second period, and some awkward bounces for Dany Sabourin in the third, the Bears fought for this one.  By all rights, they should have earned their way into OT and a point for their rank in the division standings.  Yes, this is the AHL, which means more fights and often chippier play, but it should be noted that the Bears’ designated brawler Joel Rechlicz recorded no penalty minutes.  Granted, D.J. King continues to be out day-to-day with a lower body injury suffered last night, and Garrett Mitchell was a healthy scratch while sporting a beauty of a shiner from a fight in Wilkes-Barre, but the point still stands – Hershey battled, they didn’t just fight.

Silver Lining on the Night:

The South Carolina Stingrays did what their metaphorical elder siblings could not – the Rays pushed the Gwinnett Gladiators into overtime, and eventually walked away with a 5-4 win.  Also, Keith Aucoin continues to lead the league in assists, adding another 4 to his total for the season (24 assists in 19 games played).

Images of Tonight’s Specialty Jerseys:

Chris Bourque surveys the ice during warm-ups.

Garrett Mitchell was a healthy scratch tonight, but his shiner from last night deserves a special mention.

Dany Sabourin, tonight's starting goaltender (who got all the bounces in the second period, and none in the third).

Mattias Sjogren, Tonight's Birthday Boy on the Third Line.