Hershey Bears Middle-Six Wreck Havoc In Weekend Set In Charlotte

Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Charlotte Checkers

The Hershey Bears are heading home on Sunday with a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Atlantic Division Semifinal series with the Charlotte Checkers following Saturday night’s 5-1 victory in Charlotte. The victory capped a very successful weekend in the Queen City for the Bears, who outscored the Checkers 10-3 in the two-game set.

One look at the Bears healthy scratches for both games (they went with same lineup both nights) and it’s easy to conclude the Bears have a very deep roster in this year’s postseason run. Here are the scratches for games one and two:

Shane Gersich, Henrik Borgstrom, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Bobby Nardella, Bogdan Trineyev, Julian Napravnik, Jake Massie, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev and Garin Bjorklund. That’s a decent team in and of itself.

So with all of that talent watching from the press box, where is the offense coming from? It’s been the Bears middle six forwards, with the second line recording nine points and the third line posting eight points (17 of the 23 points by forwards – 74%).

Mike Vecchione (1) – Mike Sgarbossa (2) – Ethen Frank (1)
Joe Snively (3) – Connor McMichael (2) – Garrett Pilon (4)
Aliaksei Protas (3) – Hendrix Lappiere (2) – Sam Anas (3)
Beck Malenstyn (0) -Riley Sutter (1) – Mason Morelli (1)

Bears head coach Todd Nelson has constructed the second and third lines with young, less-experienced, but talented forwards, and anchored each line with a seasoned vet on the right side. The formula has worked well so far in the series.

It should also be noted that goaltender Hunter Shepard has also (unsurprisingly) been excellent in goal, playing both games and stopping 41 of 44 for a .932 save percentage in Charlotte.

The series now shifts to Hershey for Game 3 on Wednesday night with the Bears needing just one win in the next three (potential) games in chocolate town to advance.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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7 Responses to Hershey Bears Middle-Six Wreck Havoc In Weekend Set In Charlotte

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love that Middle six. That’s where the Calder will be win or lost.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So much talent on those two lines. The 4th line has also been excellent, stopping checkers star players.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Those two lines have been unstoppable

  4. Prevent Defense says:

    The organization with no “Path Upwards” will fail absolutely. Every time. In the American workplace, if you can’t “succeed your boss” you will look elsewhere for promotion and pay (been there, done that, many times). There was an element of sadness and pathos with the departure of HCPL. But the sentimental period is over. Pi$tol Pete’s operation of the Caps-Bears talent base was off-the-charts disastrous! All that talent in Hershey should have been pushed upward to the “parent” club a long time ago. It was absolute TORTURE that fans had to endure over 1.5 seasons of “You know what you’re getting with Matty,” “Lars looks really good out there,” and “I’m perfectly OK with playing #39.” Torture!

    Now the franchise has a chance to do the Right Thing. As a long-time fan, it’s very simple: I WANT to promote the Hershey Bears nucleus into the Caps lineup. I WANT to watch them grow and mature and thrive. I will PAY the Caps’ exorbitant ticket prices to watch them. I will live with “growing pains” and imperfection because building from the draft / minor leagues is the only way for sustained NHL success, period. It works in MLB too. CF Houston and Baltimore. When players KNOW there is a “path” to The Show, they will respond. Morale is best in the Upward-mobility model.

    At this point in Caps history, I’m ready to apply the upward-mobility principle to the management ranks too. Bears Head Coach Todd Nelson IS the “front-runner.” He deserves comprehensive evaluation in the upcoming competition where several candidates “with previous NHL head coaching experience” will be in the running.

    Promote and Play the talented Bears’ Middle Six! Promote the immense collection of Riding-the-Pine Hershey Bears talent! Don’t care really who Next Head Coach is. Just as long as he integrates the Hershey Middle Six.

  5. GRin430 says:

    The 4th line has also been really good — they get a LOT of ice time, and their job isn’t to score, it’s to keep Charlotte from scoring and hammer them all over the ice. They’ve done an excellent job of that.

    I knew Malenstyn was great at his job, but Sutter has been a revelation. Imagine, a Caps’ home-grown C who can actually win a face-off! The Beagle reborn! He also plays like…. a SUTTER! Not afraid to hit an opponent! Crazy, huh?

    Sutter’s an RFA that they should definitely bring back. If he shows well in training camp next year, he might make Dowd expendable. I like Dowd, he’s a bargain for what he brings to the team each night, but if Sutter can do the same job, they can probably save a few hundred thousand bucks in cap space and trade Dowd to bring back a decent pick… Which is why you have an organizational pipeline in the first place — as Prevent Defense said, you need to keep refreshing the NHL team with kids brought up through the system, or you will end up aging out of contention.

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