Hershey Builds on the Details, Walks Away with a 5-0 Win

By
Posted December 17, 2011

Every once in a while, everything goes right.  That was tonight in Hershey against the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and it was beautiful to watch.  In light of the Capitals game in Denver, it was an even sweeter slice of success.

Celebration following Captain Boyd Kane's breakaway goal in the first period (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

Winning a hockey game requires more than just a few pucks in the net (although those certainly help).  A triumph on the ice and a celebration in the locker room needs both the “big guns” and the “lesser” guys to pay their dues.  Tonight, the Hershey Bears were a phenomenal example of how to do it right.  They weren’t perfect – far from it, in fact – but they were still fantastic.

By many definitions, 5-0 on the scoresheet is a blowout.  But let’s be clear: tonight’s game was nothing like the 7-1 thrashing of Portland that accompanied the Giant Center’s epic teddy bear toss.  The score crept upward slowly, 2 in the first and only a single tally in the second.  The Bears earned every goal they scored, finishing their checks and serving their time on the penalty kill just as often as they saw chances on the power play.  Three out of five goals came on the power play, and they were a perfect 5-for-5 on the PK.

Dany Sabourin holds the line, with a little help from Sean Collins and Keith Aucoin.

Dany Sabourin was the hero of the night, snagging his second shut-out of the season through a combination of effort and sheer luck.  He nailed down access to the net well before the forwards built up the breathing room.  It was a bizarrely geographical game, with play occurring primarily in the zone to the right of the player benches for all three periods.  Unfortunately for the Tigers’ goalie, Kevin Poulin, that meant that the first and third periods belonged to the Bears.

The BS Tigers, in an echo of the expected performance of their parent team (the Islanders), just could not seem to buy themselves a win.  They outshot the Bears 23-31, logging 16 shots in the second frame alone.  They snagged 5 separate power play opportunities, as well, two of which overlapped into over a minute of 5-on-3.  Fortunately for Hershey, the hockey gods smiled on their elder netminder, resulting in a series of saves that would haunt the dreams of any self-respecting forward.

It’s easy to wax poetic about the goalie when a game goes this well, and Dany S certainly does deserve a healthy measure of praise.  Next on the list of podium candidates are those with tallies on the night’s score sheet: Ryan Potulny (2 goals, 1 assist), Matt Ford (1 goal, 1 assist), Boyd Kane (1 goal), Christian Hanson (GWG), and the double-assist duo of Jacob Micflikier and Chris Bourque.

Christian Hanson (#20) and Julien Brouillette (#29) separate a Tiger from his puck.

But games like these are won and lost on the backs of the invisibles, those who rarely appear outside of their roster listing.  Players like Tomas Kundratek, who walked away from tonight’s effort with a +1 and nothing else.  Or Garrett Mitchell, who has floated between the first and third/fourth lines over the past two games, and was praised by Coach Mark French for his consistency of play regardless of placement (3:00).  The last of tonight’s notable invisibles, but certainly not the least, is D. J. King.  This marked his first game back in action after receiving a lower-body injury on Black Friday.

Joel Rechlicz and Brett Gallant tangle near the Tigers' bench.

In a nod to those not-quite-absent from the scoresheet, a moment for the brawlers.  It’s always hard to be on the wrong end of a lopsided game, and that frustration boiled over repeatedly in the third period.  Starting off this round of back-and-forth was Sean Collins, who blocked a shot with his face in the first period.  He returned just in time to get into it with Michael Haley :35 seconds into the final frame.  Joel Rechlicz and Brett Gallant exchanged words (and more) a few minutes later, resulting in a long and drawn-out nod to old-school hockey fights.

Andrew Carroll and Blair Riley dropped the gloves just as the final horn sounded.

The last altercation of the evening occurred as the clock expired, with Andrew Carroll losing patience with Blair Riley.  The tussle was brief, but served to muffle the Hershey victory celebration into a much more sedate roar than usual.

Boyd Kane cuts around Tony Romano of the BS Tigers.

All-Star Honors:

Bears captain Boyd Kane was named captain of the Eastern Conference Team for the 2012 AHL All-Star Game.

Word from the South:

In an unusual show of solidarity with the Caps, the South Carolina Stingrays dropped their second game in a row to the Gwinnett Gladiators.  Both losses have been one-goal decisions, with the Saturday night gamer-winner coming in the first minute of the second period.  Daren Machesney earned the third star for his work attempting to salvage the game, but as both Vokoun and Neuvirth have recently pointed out, it’s difficult to win when your team doesn’t score in front of you.  Hopefully, tomorrow will bring a change in the weather for the ‘Rays as they face the Greenville Road Warriors.

Bonus:

For your enjoyment, a few photos of the night’s Mites on Ice.  10 players a team, all on the ice at the same time.

Hockey can most definitely be a spectator sport, even for the players.

Very small children in hockey gear will never cease to be adorable.