It’s really hard to imagine that it’s nearly mid-November and the Hershey Bears and the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have yet to play a hockey game against each other yet this season, but that will all change Friday.
Hershey is third in the Atlantic Division with a 6-3-0-3 record through 12 games good for 15 points and a .625 points percentage.
It is easy to keep tabs on these guys. So here’s what I know.
They rotate two goalies, Justin Peters and Dan Ellis. Both have played six games each. Peters is in the top ten in goaltending leaders in the AHL with a 3-1-2 record with a 1.96 GAA and a .932 SV% and I am guessing that the Penguins see him Friday against Matt Murray.
They are middle of the pack in goals scored (2.92) and goals allowed (2.75) meaning that they can score them and give them up at will.
Whoever leads after two periods tomorrow is probably going to win the game. The Bears are 3-0-0-1 leading after two while the Pens are 6-0. Tied after two is almost dead even too with the Bears showing a 2-0-0-1 record and the Penguins with a 2-0 record.
Bears are 4-3 away from Giant Center and the Penguins have yet to lose at home.
The Penguins have the top power play in the AHL connecting at 27.5% of the time while the Bears are in the bottom third of the AHL with a 14% success rate. On the kill, Wilkes-Barre is in the top ten with a 87.8% kill rate while the Bears are middle of the pack at 83.7%.
No big surprise here, Chris Bourque is their leading scorer with a point a game (4-8-12 through 12 games) and Carter Camper is second on the team with 10 points (2-8-10)
Hershey will be without Liam O’Brien and Jakub Vrana. Vrana is out long term with a wrist injury while O’Brien is out midterm with a knee ailment.
Their last five games were as follows:
- A 4-2 win over St. John’s at home on October 31. IceCaps cough up a 2-0 lead.
- 5-4 shootout loss at home November 1 to Lehigh Valley. Phantoms cough up a 4-1 lead, Bears tie it late on a Zach Sill goal. It led to Whiteboard-Gate.
- A pair of 4-2 wins over the Sound Tigers on November 4 in a kids day game in Bridgeport. Bears scored two goals in 1:06 late in the third and then…
- November 6 in Allentown against the Phantoms in a game that the Phantoms were never in.
- A 4-3 shootout loss to the St. John’s IceCaps on November 7. The IceCaps scored three consecutive goals after going down 3-0.
So what do we see Friday?
Honestly I don’t know. The Penguins have been the more consistent team. Remember Hartford a few weeks ago? They were the up an coming team in the division that got obliterated by Wilkes-Barre. Hershey is on that same ascent but the Penguins are a better team that St. John’s, Lehigh Valley and Bridgeport. Who knows. Remember the old saying, “buy the ticket, take the ride?” It applies here.
I think this is a big game for the Penguins, the best team in the AHL right now. Their biggest rival is coming in wanting to knock them down. I am not saying that the team that wins is going to win the division or that the team that loses is going to miss the playoffs, I am just saying that it’s a big game. The Bears feel the same way.
Gameday will be up on the blog Friday at 3.