Rock the Brock: Ham’ing it Up

[Ed. Note: Rock the Brock will be a reoccuring post from Brock Kerchner, co-host of the Old Barn Hockey Show on 1460 The Ticket in Harrisburg, featuring a weekly chat on all things Hershey Bears]

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Bears finding their game– The Bears opened up their second 3 in 3 on Friday in Hartford, CT before coming home for 2 games. They showed great energy throughout the game in Friday night, but never really broke through the neutral zone with any sense of organization. The Whale were very aggressive in their neutral zone pressure and seemed to break up every effort the Bears threw at them. Dmitri Orlov scored his first goal of the season late in the game, but the Bears ultimately fell 3-1 at the XL Center. On Saturday night the Albany Devils came to Hershey as a team loaded with talent. That talent didn’t seem to matter, as Braden Holtby stole the show from puck drop. His 35 save shutout he looked like merely a formality. The Bears’ defense (along with Holtby) was firing on all cylinders. Come Sunday, the rival Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins came to town for the first of 12 meetings this season. The Pens delivered steady pressure in the first 8 minutes of the game, but things seemed to even out after that. Dany Sabourin stood tall in net all evening. The Bears took a 2-0 lead on a quick goal to start the second period (by Mike Carman) and a shorthanded laser by Zach Hamill later in the period. Ryan Stoa converted a rebound in the third to go up 3-1. The Baby Pens answered on a PP with 5 minuntes to go in the game. Hershey kept the late game chances minimal for the Pens and sealed the deal at 3-2. The Bears at 3-3-1-0 travel to Springfield and Bridgeport this weekend to try and move up the standings in the East Division.

Braden Holtby-I have seen Braden Holtby play a lot games in the past 4 years; most of them in person. Saturday night against the Albany Devils, Braden Holtby showed us something new. With an assailant stacked with 2012 Eastern Conference Champion experience, Holtby showed us he can’t be rated on a 1 to 10 scale. Braden has never played a better game. 35 saves on 35 shots and he was square to the shooter on all accounts. He seemed to make every play look so easy since he was in position at all times. If he needed to move laterally post to post he was composed and cautious in his movement instead of just sliding over as fast as possible trying to get a piece of the shot. He joked occasionally with teammates in between play as well. I can’t get over the Holtby transformation from the last time we saw him in game action at the Giant Center. It has been overwhelming to see his growth and development both on and off the ice.  If this continues throughout the season, Bears Fan will be buying Holtby Bars by the end of the year.

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Photo Courtesy of Carl Minieri

AHL Video Replay- 4 games at the Giant Center so far this year and 3 of them have involved goals reviewed by video. This is new to the AHL this year and the bugs are still being worked out. On 10/21, Binghamton was awarded the overtime GWG with 6 seconds left in the game on a review. The initial call was no goal but the replay proved the puck was in the net before the net was dislodged. On 10/27, Hershey was awarded a goal that was shown to have clearly entered the goal and bounce out off the inside crossbar. They had to phone the goal judge to confirm the goal as they had some issue with operating the goal review equipment. Apparently they couldn’t find the footage after the video had been rewound to far. Crisis averted, as the right call was made. On 10/28, the Penguins had a goal disallowed after it was shown that it was kicked in. No ruling was made on the ice prior to the review. It will take a little getting used to the equipment and so forth but in all 3 cases so far at the Giant Center the right call has prevailed. The average time for a decision has been about 4 minutes which I believe to be pretty manageable. Kudos to the AHL for stepping up and making video replay a reality in the AHL this season.

Well Hello, Hamill- Bears fans were beginning to question the addition of Zach Hamill after coming into the weekend with his only credits on the stat sheet at 10 PIMs. That changed in a hurry. Zach posted a goal in each of the games at Giant Center this weekend. On Saturday night, Zach had the GWG with a nice deke and back hand in the first. Sunday, he found the twine with a shorthanded laser with 2 defensemen closing in at the top of the right circle. It was great to see him get on the board, especially in front of the Giant Center crowds.

Tomas Kundratek- Sometimes a new place will spark a new response to the same effort. In late 2011, Kundratek requested a trade out of the Rangers system and was dealt for Francois Bouchard. After arriving in Hershey last year, Tomas posted 23 points in 55 games as a blue liner. His efforts were immediately felt on the ice in his own zone as well. So far in 7 games this year, Kundratek has amassed 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points. He has become a large part of the Bears success, and is third in points on the team as of this week. Meanwhile, Bouchard has been sent to the ECHL in the past 2 weeks.

Rock the Brock logo- I need to give a shout out to my logo designer Carrie Buller. Carrie is a wonderful friend who is waging war with cancer. She is beating it back battle by battle and shall prevail! She also is a gifted designer. With all she has going on her life she still hammered out the awesome design in record time. I love that she incorporated the Barn door to lend ties to the Old Barn Hockey Show that I co-host. The logo also connects with Caps fans as I am talking to you as “all things down on the farm.” Please visit her professional portfolio. She would love to get back into the swing of full time employment or other short term projects.

Time to go play NHL 13 since that will be the only way I will see the NHL play a game this year.

Go Bears.