The Bears began their regular season on the road this weekend, and came away from it with three points out of a possible four. Hershey fell to Wilkes Barre-Scranton in a shoot-out on Saturday night before coming from behind to earn the W in Rochester Sunday evening. Goalie Braden Holtby was in the crease both nights, turning away 41 of 44 shots on Saturday (along with 1 of 4 in the shoot out) and 19 of 22 on Sunday.
It seems that defensively, Hershey has a few kinks to work out. With John Carlson and Karl Alzner up with Washington, Bryan Helmer and Greg Amadio gone, and Patrick McNeill recovering from injury, the blueline has a whole new look, and some growing pains were expected with a renovation of this magnitude. Holtby shouldered most of the blame for the lopsided performance Saturday against the Baby Pens, telling the Patriot News’ Tim Leone that “It’s almost a good thing, in a way, that our offense didn’t take over because we made too many mistakes, myself and the defensive corps. We’ll look at the video and improve on it.”
As for Sunday’s game, well, it looks like the Bears have taken a page out of the book of the “Cardiac Caps” playbook. After two goals by Keith Aucoin to take a 2-0 lead (1 in the first and 1 in the 2nd), Rochester came back with 3 goals to take the lead. Brian Fahey scored his first in a Hershey uniform to tie it up on the power play and Andrew Gordon got his first goal of the season with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game. Gordon’s goal proved to be the game winner, and sealed the victory for the Bears.
To summarize the Bears’ Weekend:
The Good: Many questioned Aucoin’s willingness to shoot more after the departure of beard grower extraordinaire Alexandre Giroux. Looking at the stats for each this weekend, Aucoin had 3 goals, 2 assists, 1 minor penalty (2:00 for slashing), and finished the weekend at a +2. Giroux on the other hand, while making his Oklahoma City debut, in 2 games has 0 goals, 0 assists, a -3 rating, and a total of 16:00 penalty minutes (including one 10:00 minute game misconduct for abuse of an official).
The Bad: Goalie Braden Holtby had to face 44 shots in 3 periods and OT on Saturday night against the Baby Pens. Hershey’s D needs to tighten up and do a better job helping him out if they want to continue the success that Hershey is known for. Note – it does seem that they did a much better job on Sunday night, as Holtby only faced half as many (22) in the match-up in Rochester.
The Ugly: Should we talk about Michael Nylander? The Bears faced him in Rochester Sunday night. Nylander finished the night with 1 shot, a -1 rating, 0 goals, 0 assists, and 4:00 penalty minutes (a hooking minor and a cross-checking minor).