Hershey Bears v. Albany River Rats – AHL East Division Finals Preview

After defeating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4-1 to close out their first round, the Hershey Bears look to open the East Divisional finals against the Albany River Rats.  The series features a 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the series’ first set of games featured as a back-to-back at Giant Center in Hershey, PA this Saturday and Sunday. Read on, as our expert gives you a look at how the Bears have played thusfar and what we’re to expect from from the Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate.

Don’t make Coco mad, make the jump.

Game 1:  Saturday                 April 24th        Albany at Hershey – 7pm
Game 2:  Sunday                   April 25th        Albany at Hershey – 5pm
Game 3:  Tuesday                  April 27th        Hershey at Albany – 7pm
Game 4:  Thursday                April 29th        Hershey at Albany – 7pm
Game 5:  Saturday                 May 1st            Albany at Hershey – 7pm*
Game 6:  Monday                   May 3rd           Hershey at Albany – 7pm*
Game 7:  Wednesday             May 5th           Albany at Hershey – 7pm*

Amping up Albany:
At the conclusion of Carolina’s season, the Hurricanes reassigned 6 players to Albany, giving the Rats’ lineup an instant boost.  Those reassigned are defensemen Jamie McBain, Jay Harrison, and Bryan Rodney; and forwards Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk, and Jerome Samson.

And we thought we had power play problems:
Albany swept Wilkes-Barre Scranton (the Baby Pens) in 4 games in the opening round of the playoffs.  In those 4 games, Albany went 0 for 20 on the Power Play and 15 for 17 on the Penalty Kill.  Three of those games were decided by one goal, and the fourth game would have been with the exception of an Albany empty net goal late in the 3rd.

The Ones to Watch:
Former Bear and Washington Draft Pick Oskar Osala managed only 1 goal and 1 assist in the series.  Albany goalie Justin Peters played all 4 games and made 114 saves on 123 shots for a .927 save percentage.

The River Rats’ scoring has been balanced, as they have 4 players tied with 4 points for the lead in team scoring (Jamie McBain, Nick Dodge, Mike Angelidis, and Chris Terry).   

If You’re Making the Trip North:
Tickets can be found on ticketmaster or by calling 717-508-BEAR.  And don’t forget, the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey is offering an $89.00 rate for RtR readers headed up to take in a game or two.  Just call the hotel directly at 717-564-5511 and ask for in-house reservations and then for the Hershey Bears Fan rate.

Bears Leaders after Round 1:
Alexandre Giroux      6 goals
Andrew Gordon        4 goals
Mathieu Perreault      2 goals
Kyle Wilson                2 goals

Keith Aucoin              7 assists
Chris Bourque           4 assists
Patrick Wellar            3 assists (Giroux, Perreault, & Wilson each have 3 assists)

Bryan Helmer             +4
Kyle Wilson                +4
6 players tied with      +3 (Giroux, Gordon, Perreault, Bouchard, Pinizzotto, Kane)

Chris Bourque            33
Alexandre Giroux       17
Francois Bouchard     11
Andrew Gordon         11

Michal Neuvirth         61 saves on 66 shots, .924 S % and 3 Wins in 3 Games Played
Braden Holtby           45 saves on 52 shots, .865 S % and 1 Win in 2 Games Played