Hershey Falls to Kitten Claws, While the Stingrays Continue to Streak

Posted January 22, 2012

This is a Sparkle Kitty. Martin Jones, to be specific, and he had a good night. Well, he got the W, anyway... (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

Last night in Hershey marked the first half of a back-to-back series with a team that I tend to refer to as the Sparkle Kitties (also known as the Manchester Monarchs, AHL affiliate of the LA Kings).  For a complete explanation of the nickname, see the note at the end of the article.  They also managed to break a 7-game losing skid by beating the Bears 5-4 after 60 minutes that had more than the usual assortment of oddball occurrences.

The Stingrays took the more conventional approach (or at least the more satisfying), and pushed their winning streak to 8 games with a 3-1 defeat of the visiting Florida Everblades (a team best known outside of the ECHL for their appearances on Puck Daddy featuring line brawls and holiday jerseys).  #Rainbowsandkittens seems almost inappropriate, given the whole Monarchs thing, but we’ll let it slide.

The Nitty-Gritties:

The Hershey game was just plain weird, and I don’t say that lightly.  Both teams clearly embraced the “back to back” element of the Saturday/Sunday game set, putting it into practice throughout the Saturday game in what more often than not resembled a perverse game of ping pong.

Keith Aucoin celebrates his early goal with teammate Patrick McNeill.

In the first period, two goals were scored exactly ten (10!) seconds apart – one by Bears uber!player (and All Star invitee) Keith Aucoin, the other by Manchester’s Justin Azevedo.

Andrew Carroll (Hershey) and Nick Deslauriers (Manchester) take a tour of the trapezoid under the supervision of the on-ice officials.

Then came the second period, where Manchester got credit for a freak face-off result (Aucoin won it, the puck bounced off of Danny Richmond‘s skate and straight into the goal) and then held onto their lead for exactly seven minutes.  Leading up to Hershey’s triumphant return to a tie-score were two separate bouts of fisticuffs a whopping 36 seconds apart.  First, recent Bears call-up Phil Oreskovic and Justin Johnson put in a markedly pro-forma demonstration, and then Andrew Carroll and rookie katzen Nick Deslauriers decided to drag each other halfway across the Bears defensive zone, and polish a few panes of glass while they were at it.  Thankfully, neither fight resulted in significant physiological damage – the last thing Hershey needs right now is to lose a player to self-inflicted wounds, well-intentioned or otherwise.

Hershey Goal #3 - Things were going so well...

The final oddball event took place a few moments after the fighting calmed: three goals scored in 1:10.  The first two were from Hershey (Micflikier & Kane), and the final tally went to Manchester’s PIM leader Jordan Nolan.

With light whistles throughout the game, it was no surprise that tempers were short as the clock wound down.

To conclude the photo-spam portion of this post-game, I leave you with Dany Sabourin‘s opinion on the night’s outcome, presented via interpretive dance:

Game-Winning-Goal: Check. Disgruntled Goalie: Check. Time Left on the Clock: Not Enough.

Numbers Worth Noting:

Good: Keith Aucoin extended his league-high point streak to 15 games, though his assist streak has now ended at 14 games.

Bad:  Both Danny Richmond and Kyle Greentree notched an unfortunate -3 rating over the course of the game.  Richmond was on the ice for 4 of the 5 goals scored by the Monarchs.  Greentree had the distinction of being on the ice for the last four goals scored in the game (3 Manchester goals, including the game-winner, and Hershey’s only successful power play conversion).

Dwight, the other King from Meadow Lake, SK.

Neutral (Borderline Good): Three players who started the year in the AHL and logged time with the Bears played in the most recent Caps game – Cody Eakin, Tomas Kundratek, and Dmitry Orlov.  While the Caps may have lost, none of the call-ups recorded either penalty minutes or a negative +/- rating.

Awkward: While both teams have a healthy King on the roster, only one saw action (Dwight, currently in his third pro season in the Kings’ system).  Older brother D.J. was a healthy scratch, as he has been regularly for the last couple of months.

And finally…

A Note on Nicknames: By this point in the season, it should have become apparent that there are some standard team nicknames that float around the A (or AHL).  Baby Pens, B-Sens, etc.  There are also some less-standard nicknames I throw around on occasion – when that happens, I’ll try to make sure to explain where a name comes from.  Like tonight, where I introduce you to the Sparkle Kitties.

When I first started following AHL hockey, a friend at Something’s Bruin made a comment about the “Sparkle Kitties.”  I was understandably confused, and couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.  Then I saw the Monarchs play, and it all became clear.  Suffice it to say, their jerseys involve both the image of a feline and actual glitter.  It’s less apparent on their away jerseys, which is a shame, but anything that appears silver in game shots from Hershey is, in fact, highly reflective and sparkly.  On the Home jerseys, the purple has embedded glitter, as well.