Rock the Brock: Laffy Taffe, Gettin’ Grubby

[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 hit first 3 in 3- The Bears opened up their first 3 in 3 on Friday in Binghamton before coming home for 2 games. The Bears showed great pressure throughout the game and ended up building a 3-0 lead. All 3 goals were from Hershey blue liners. Sabourin ended up with 42 saves on the night in a wonderful display in the 3-2 win.  The next night, the Bears seemed to run out of steam late in the game against the Americans after leading 5-2 at one point. Sabourin saw a flurry of shots and odd man rushes that he just couldn’t contain late in the game. Rochester ended up besting the Bears 8-7 when the horn blew. We saw great chemistry starting to build for the forwards but some late defensive mistakes by the Bears as well as some fatigue cost them the 2 points. Sunday was a rematch from Friday and both teams sank a goal in the second period to send the game into the extra stanza. Lehner (Binghamton) and Grubauer (Hershey) were superb in net and kept their teams in the game. With 6.2 seconds left in overtime the Sens threw the puck at the net. The pass attempt hit the twine with a forward in the crease and the net was dislodged almost instantly. The initial call on the ice was no goal but in the first video replay review in Giant Center history the goal was awarded to Binghamton for a 2-1 overtime victory. The call took 5 minutes to make and it was somewhat surreal for those 5 minutes just waiting. The Bears took 3 out of 6 points from the weekend. I am sure this will not sit well in the locker room for this week. Let’s see what the focus is this weekend with another 3 in 3.

Taffe- 2 goals and 5 assists in 4 games. 7 points ties him for third on the AHL scoring sheet with a game in hand over the leaders. Jeff continues to work hard to the net and setup plays with his 2 linemates, Jon DiSalvatore and Barry Almeida. Instant chemistry has sparked this line so far in the early season. Bears fan will expect this line to generate points consistently throughout the season. DiSalvatore and Taffe will help Almeida find his own game as he transitions into the AHL for his first full season.

Matt Clackson- A signing that troubled me over the summer was Matt Clackson. In Hershey we knew him as a trouble maker who usually went over the line. Clackson has cleaned up his act in the games so far this year while still playing the enforcer role for Hershey. He has landed some great bouts in the early season while playing hard and not getting his team in trouble with stupid penalties. I know many Bears fans held the same caution in their hearts about this signing. I hope this smart play continues throughout the year for Matt.

Philipp Grubauer- I have been waiting almost 2 years to see this kid in Hershey. I thought he might get his first AHL start late last season as he was playing incredibly well but a knee injury ended that speculation. I knew he would be in Hershey this year for sure until the lockout hit. I then knew Holtby would be down and take his spot as a Bear. Right now Holtby is day to day with an undisclosed injury which opened the door for Grubby’s first AHL start on Sunday night. He was stellar! He hands down stole the show at the end of the first stopping 4 shots on Binghamton’s 5 on 3 PP. He made 24 saves on 26 shots overall and deserved better then an overtime loss with 6.2 seconds left in the extra stanza. The German born tender showed great fundamentals in getting square with the shooter and eating up any rebounds. He seemed to swallow up all shots meant to create a rebound opportunity for the opposing team. I was very impressed and I can’t wait to see more in the future. His time in Hershey may be cut short until the NHL resumes play. (whenever that will be…)


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Photo Courtesy of Carl Minieri

Dual Coaches- There is a disconnect on the Bears bench. It is like the in-laws are in town for an extended unwelcomed visit. Mark French and Troy Mann have been very accommodating and everybody has been very civil. The relocation of Adam Oates and Calle Johansson to Hershey since training camp has been frustrating for all involved. Way too may questions raised then answered in this move. I am sure Oates and Calle didn’t make this decision but I would deem this move of McPhail. Watching the games over the weekend was clear enough to see that the bench atmosphere was awkward. The defense has a different coach every night on the bench as Mann and Johansson rotate.  In this situation, who do you talk to if you have a question or issue: French or Oates? I understand they wanted Oates to get some experience with a head coaching position but then why was he hired if he wasn’t “ready.” I hope this situation goes away… and fast. It isn’t fair to the Bears bench bosses who are very capable of their job. French and Mann have posted one of the best records over the past 4 years in Chocolatetown and will continue to without disruption hopefully. 

Go Bears.