Recipe for an Instant Win in Hershey: Just Add Greentree!

Posted December 21, 2011

According to some theorists, the best way to shake things up after a catastrophic performance is roster juggling.  Bench Semin!  Bench Ovi!  Everyone in the DC area heard those cries as the Caps fell further and further into a losing skid this past November.  There were quite a few parties who applauded then-Coach Bruce Boudreau for his decision to use the press box and bench as a disciplinary tool.

Matt Ford celebrates teammate Patrick McNeill's goal, as Iiro Tarkki regrets tempting fate by being awesome in the first period (All Photos Credit: M. Richter).

In Hershey, it was clear that something had to give, lest Sunday’s mess be repeated.  In direct contrast to the Capitals, however, Hershey was fortunate enough to be able to add to their roster rather than simply stripping it.  For the first time since the season home-opener, Kyle Greentree was cleared for game play.  The results were everything the fans could have hoped for: A 5-2 defeat of the Syracuse Crunch (affiliate of the Ducks), giving everyone a solid dose of holiday cheer heading into the break.

When speaking with the media tonight, Coach French referenced Sunday’s defensive breakdown as being entirely effort-related.  Thankfully, that was not a problem that the Bears faced tonight.  Their play was both more balanced and consistent than it has been over the last few games, and they earned a solid win as a result.  Whether it was the return of Greentree (there were a lot of good vibes about his return prior to the break) or just the embarrassment of dropping 5 goals in a row (also possible; even the fans were embarrassed by that one), the Bears came to the rink intending to work hard, and it paid off.

It’s been mentioned before, but the ice at the Giant Center has a tendency to tilt toward the attacking end.  Regardless of period, the puck spends the majority of its time within an area of roughly 40 feet, all of it to the right of the player benches. Tonight was an aberration.  The puck bounced consistently from end to end, and even a significantly slanted allotment of penalty minutes (Hershey had 12, including a 5-on-3 in the first period and a double-minor (4:00) in the second; Syracuse had 6 total, with one per period) couldn’t keep the Bears cornered during the second period.  Instead of slumping, they notched three goals, including a short-handed effort during the extended four minute penalty kill caused by Keith Aucoin‘s high-stick.

With 2:00 remaining in the second period, Kyle Greentree scores goal number four for the Bears.

Hershey lit the lamp five times in 32 shots, and chased Syracuse goaltender Iiro Tarkki with two minutes remaining in the second period.  Because we’re launching into the holiday break (the guys get 4 full days off, before resuming practice on the afternoon of the 26th), I give you a full set of achievements for the evening.

Roll Call of Awesome:

Dany Sabourin makes a diving save, with coverage help from Ryan Potulny. Sabourin was named first star of the game.

Following tonight’s game, the Bears (and their staff) disperse to the four corners for a well deserved break.  Their next scheduled game is next Tuesday, yet another visit to their 12-games-this-season rivals the Baby Pens.  They next play at home on Wednesday the 28th, in the second half of a home-and-home.

Stingray News:

The Stingrays are also going into their holiday break with a win under their belts.  On Tuesday night, they defeated the Gwinnett Gladiators 4-3 in overtime, ending a five game losing streak at home.  Daren Machesney was in net, with Matt Scherer, Pierre-Luc O’Brien, Nick Tabisz (goal + 2 assists, Rookie Camp Attendee), and Chris Doyle (GWG + 1 assist, ECHL Rookie) each adding a goal to the tally.  We’re back into #rainbowsandkittens territory, people!

The ‘Rays return to action on Monday with a 3-in-3 road trip against the Gladiators & the Greenville Road Warriors.