Are Penalties and the PK Killing the Bears?


Comments to a recent recaps and articles inferred that mistakes by certain players may be contributing to the skid the Bears are desperately trying to stop. These comments served as the impetus to attempt to take a closer look at penalties that have led to powerplay goals for the opposition. 

While penalties are only one factor in determining errors leading to goals (failing to clear the puck from the defensive zone, allowing odd-man rushes, and turnovers are also huge factors), it is clear that in the month of January, the Bears have allowed more goals while on the PK than any other month.

In October, for example, only five penalties led to power play goals as the Bears went 3-2-2. Ironically (or sadly), the team’s first penalty, Aaron Ness’s interference call, came just 25 seconds into the first game of the season and led to a goal.

In November, Hershey went 8-2-2 and only six penalties resulted in goals. That number doubled to 12 in December, but Hershey still went 7-3-3.

With one game remaining in January, Hershey already has 16 penalties that have resulted in goals for their opponents and the Bears have posted an un-Hershey-like 2-6-3 record. In all, Hershey has amassed 744 penalty minutes – the most in the AHL.

A deeper look at the 39 goals the Bears have allowed on the PK shows one five-minute major, one double minor, one penalty shot, and two 5-on-3s.

Aaron Ness 3 Holding, interference (2)
Bench 1 Too many men on the ice
Brad Malone 3 High-sticking, holding, hooking
Chandler Stephenson 1 tripping
Chris Bourque 1 slashing
Christian Djoos 2 Interference, high-sticking (double minor)
Darren Dietz 2 High-sticking, tripping
Garrett Mitchell 2 High-sticking, tripping
Hubert Labrie 5 Cross-checking, holding, roughing, slashing, hooking (5-on-3)
Jakub Vrana 1 Hooking
Joe Cannata 1 Delay of game
Joey Leach 2 Slashing, kneeing (major)
Liam O’Brien 3 Holding, interference, tripping
Madison Bowey 1 Slashing
Nolan Zajac 1 Tripping
Paul Carey 2 High-sticking, tripping
Riley Barber 1 Interference (penalty shot)
Ryan Bourque 1 Hooking
Stan Galiev 2 Slashing (2)
Travis Boyd 1 Tripping
Tyler Lewington 3 Holding, roughing, tripping
Zach Sanford 1 Roughing (5-on-3)
Zach Sill 1 Delay of game

Obviously the players aren’t perfect, but mistakes are costly and penalties have accounted for 39 of the goals that the Bears have given up this season. While we don’t have data on other mistakes that have led to goals, the increase has led to Hershey falling to 19th in the league in PK% (80.9%). Moving back into the top ten and taking fewer costly penalties would certainly be helpful in climbing back into the playoff picture, and there is still plenty of time to accomplish both.

By Julie Beidler

About Julie Beidler

I teach 11th grade English. I currently serve as the Secretary for the Central PA Sports Hall of Fame and am a PIAA Track/Cross Country and Volleyball official. In my free time, I also freelance for The Lebanon Daily News and cover the Hershey Bears for providing pictures, videos, interviews and stories on the future Washington Capitals.
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