Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. The Hershey Bears failed to secure a point in three games this week and have fallen to 5th in the Atlantic Division. With the possibility of now missing the playoffs entirely, Hershey needs to find some answers quickly in order to salvage the season.
The good news? It’s been done by teams before. The bad news? It’s going to take a major turn-around as the team was outscored 15-5 this past weekend. Travis Boyd and Christian Thomas, with two assists each, were the high-scorers, and it is going to take quite a bit more than two guys with two points to help out this team.
The week started with a rare Wednesday home contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Arguably the best performance of the weekend for Hershey, the Bears jumped in front early and then had to battle back to tie the game late before falling 5-3 after the Penguins got the go-ahead goal with just two minutes left on the clock.
Nathan Walker scored his ninth goal of the season late in the first period to give Hershey the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission, but the Penguins got three goals within the first ten minutes of the second including Tom Sestito’s that came 29 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Hershey went to the locker-room down 3-1 thanks to a shorthanded goal from Josh Archibald, but the Bears got goals from Paul Carey and Darren Dietz to tie the game at the midpoint of the final period.
All of the luck and energy needed to tie the game ran out though as Carter Rowney got the game-winner and the Penguins tacked on an empty-netter with 37 seconds left for the victory.
In the rematch Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, things went from bad to worse for the Bears as the Penguins jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Zach Sanford was able to get Hershey’s lone goal in the 5-1 loss.
Vitek Vanecek, who started in net for the Bears, was replaced by Cannata after giving up the fourth goal in the second period.
Hershey’s much maligned and injured defense suffered another blow Saturday with Tyler Lewington leaving the game early due to injury. His status was listed as day-to-day. With Colby Williams away from the team for the weekend, Steve Weinstein, who recently signed a PTO, entered the line-up Sunday (for a look-back at the major roster changes from last season to this season, scroll to the end).
With the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in town Sunday and news that Bridgeport had won their game earlier, the Bears dropped a must-win contest on Giant Center ice, 5-1.
Lehigh Valley got the first five goals, including three power play tallies before Chris Bourque netted his tenth of the season at 12:43 in the third.
On a team searching for any little positives they can find, Hershey’s 26 shots on Alex Lyon, who had been pulled a night ago against Providence, might just be it. However, armed with the knowledge that the Bruins won that contest 9-1, there is little positive in only recording one goal against the Phantoms.
After the game, Mann spoke of the frustration level in the locker room.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) January 23, 2017
Hershey, which has hung its hat on special teams play this season, was a miserable 1-for-14 on the power play and 8-for-12 on the penalty kill.
Hershey heads to Hartford Wednesday, Providence on Friday, and Springfield on Saturday before the All-Star break. They do not play again at home until St. John’s comes town for the final time February 4 and 5.
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Joe Cannata 0-2 – 55 saves on 65 shots
Vitek Vanecek 0-1 – 11 saves on 15 shots
THREE STARS (opponent)
- Carey (WBS – Wed.)
Dustin Gazley (lower body) – projected out until mid-February
Riley Barber (upper body) – projected out until mid-January
Madison Bowey (lower body) – out indefinitely – projected April return
Tyler Lewington (lower body) – day-to-day
ADD – Steve Weinstein – Signed to PTO – Jan. 19
FYI – Roster Changes from last year to this year (additions in green, departures in red)
- Christian Thomas
- Zach Sanford
- Brad Malone
- Vitek Vanecek
- Joe Cannata
- Carter Camper (F) – playing for LV (AHL)
- Sean Collins (F) – playing in KHL
- Mike Moore (D) – playing in DEL (Germany)
- Ryan Stanton (D) – playing for Cleveland Monsters (AHL)
- Connor Carrick (D) – traded to Toronto
- Erik Burgdoerfer (D) – playing for Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabers
- Dan Ellis (G) – retired
- Justin Peters (G) – playing for Tucson Roadrunners and Arizona Coyotes
By Julie Beidler