This week marks the second installment of Hershey Bears Weekly on The Hockey Writers as Washington’s AHL affiliate begins their February schedule this week. The Chocolate and White picked up six out of a possible six points last weekend as they increased their winning streak to five straight wins overall and eight straight victories at Giant Center. The team record is 24 straight wins at home, set by the 2009-10 Bears, the last Hershey club to hoist the Calder Cup championship.
Hershey saw the return of experienced goaltender Philipp Grubauer (6-4-1), who picked up his second career shutout and fourth of his AHL career during the Bears’ 2-0 triumph over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday night at Giant Center. He improved his save percentage to .923 and goals against average to 2.23. In his last two games, the German native has 57 saves on 58 shots.
Hershey will have to adjust to the promotion of first line center Ryan Stoa, who was recalled to the Washington Capitals earlier this week. It’s unknown who will take Stoa’s spot on the Bears’ first line, but Jeff Taffe and Michael Latta are the top candidates to do so. Taffe has climbed to second in scoring for the Bears, with 28 points through 42 games. Taffe has 14 points over his last 14 games, including a two point night against the Penguins Sunday evening.
Hershey’s matchup against Adirondack will feature the returns of Mike Haviland forward Ryan Potulny to the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon after a Friday contest in Glens Falls. Haviland won a Stanley Cup championship with the Chicago Blackhawks as part of their coaching staff and Potulny played for the Phantoms and Philadelphia Flyers several seasons ago.
I'm expecting 3 changes to lineup tomorrow. VandeVelde back with team, Tyler Brown ready to play again, Straka overcomes illness.
— Bob Rotruck (@BobRotruck) January 31, 2014
As the regular season roles on, these games become more and more crucial for the Bears. Gaining home ice in the first round of the playoffs is imperative, shown by Hershey’s performance as a lower seed in the postseason over the past few seasons. Take a look at a weekend preview for the Bears along with some must read material.
January 31st and February 1st at Adirondack (21-19-0-2)
- Home Record: 11-11-0-1
- Power Play: 14.2% (26th)
- Penalty Kill: 86.8 (3rd)
- Goals per Game: 2.38 (30th)
- Goals Against per Game: 2.57 (4th)
- Offensive Leaders: Jason Akeson (38 points), Kris Newbury (27), Ben Holmstrom (20) and Petr Straka (20)
- Goalies: Cal Heeter (14-15-0, 2.34 GAA, .921 SV %) and Yann Danis (6-4-2, 2.50 GAA, .906 SV %)
February 2nd vs. Norfolk (22-13-1-7)
- Road Record: 12-6-1-3
- Power Play: 17.4% (17th)
- Penalty Kill: 88.0% (2nd)
- Goals per Game: 2.79 (17th)
- Goals Against per Game: 2.65 (8th)
- Offensive Leaders: Emerson Etem (28), Rickard Rakell (28), Devante Smith-Pelly (23) and Max Friberg (23)
- Goalies: John Gibson (13-9-4, 2.43 GAA, .918 SV %) and Brad Thiessen (1-1-2, 1.89 GAA, .946 SV %)
- Mike Haviland chats about Ryan Stoa’s recall [Patriot News]
- Background on Tyson Strachan’s charity Strachan’s Strays [Patriot News]
- The story surrounding rookie Norfolk forward Max Friberg by The Hockey Writers Ted Warren [THW]
Matthew Speck covers the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers. He provides coverage of both Washington at the NHL level and prospect related content. Matthew also covers local sports for the Lebanon Daily News in Central Pennsylvania. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.