The Hockey Writers previews the Hershey Bears first three games in three nights stretch of the 2013-14 AHL season. They begin in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday night and finish up at Giant Center Saturday and Sunday night against the Penguins and Admirals.
November 1st and 2nd vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (6-1-0-1)
- Goals per Game: 3.88 (1st)
- Goals Against per Game: 2.50 (7th)
- Power Play: 18.0% (15th)
- Penalty Kill: 83.8% (14th)
- Shots per Game: 28.13 (21st)
- Shots Against per Game: 25.88 (5th)
- Home Record: 2-1
- Leading After Two Periods: 1-0
- Offensive Leaders: Brian Gibbons (14 points), Brendan Mikkelson (8) and Andrew Ebbett (7)
Hershey hits the road Friday night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, squaring off against the top team in the AHL in a two game weekend set. The Bears are coming off their first home win of the season where goaltender David Leggio (1-2, 3.33 GAA, .885 SV %) got his first home win for the Chocolate and White. Philipp Grubauer (1-2, 2.64 GAA, .908 SV %)will likely earn a start during the split with Leggio also earning a start between the pipes. They teams head to Hershey for the second game of the home split.
After a slow start to the year, this is a big opportunity for Hershey with two games against their biggest rival. The Bears outshot their opponent for their first time this season last Sunday against Norfolk, almost doubling the Admirals shots on goal total. Both of the Penguins’ goalies have been sharp, with Jeff Deslauriers (5-0-1, 2.47 GAA, .901 SV %) getting the majority of the starts in goal. Peter Mannino has a 1-1 record with a 2.02 goals against average and .926 save percentage in two games played.
Stopping the Penguins’ offense has to be the focal point for Hershey, as Wilkes-Barre has the top offense in the league. The Bears’ defensemen needs to contain their opponents speed, including former Philadelphia Flyers prospect Harry Zolniercyzk who has four goals in five games. This is a good measuring stick in the early part of the season for Hershey.
November 3rd vs. Norfolk (5-2-0-2)
- Goals per Game: 2.44 (23rd)
- Goals Against per Game: 2.00 (1st)
- Power Play: 19.6% (11th)
- Penalty Kill: 90.2% (3rd)
- Shots per Game: 25.44 (29th)
- Shots Against per Game: 33.78 (27th)
- Road Record: 3-1-0-1
- Leading After Two Periods: 3-0
- Offensive Leaders: Alex Grant, Rickard Rakell, Charles Sarault and Kevin Gagne with five points apiece
Finishing off three games in three nights, Norfolk fell to Hershey 4-2 last Sunday night. Leading scorer and top defenseman Alex Grant tallied a power play goal and has five points this season through nine games, with all of them coming on the man advantage. The Admirals recently received forward Rickard Rakell after he was loaned to Norfolk by the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim organization has numerous talented goalies and Norfolk currently has John Gibson (3-1-2, 1.44 GAA, .953 SV %) and Igor Bobkov (0-1, 4.03 GAA, .895 SV %) on their active roster. Frederik Andersen was recalled to Anaheim prior to the Admirals trip to Hershey. If they face Gibson, an World Juniors champion, The Bears must generate traffic in front of the net and concentrate on having constant offensive zone pressure like in their win over the Admirals last weekend.
The Washington Capitals recalled defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Michael Latta
Peter LeBlanc leads Hershey with 14 shots on goal
LeBlanc, Jeff Taffe and Derek Whitmore each have two goals to lead active players
Forward Josh Brittain practiced in a non-contact jersey during practice on Wednesday [Patriot News]