December 26, 2012 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Hershey Bears
The HERSHEY BEARS Hockey Club has been involved in three shutouts in their past four games, with both games last week featuring a blanking. The BEARS began their light game week with a 4-0 decision over the Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday, in a game which followed a beautiful ceremony in which the first seven members of the HERSHEY BEARS Hockey Club Hall of Fame were enshrined. Starting things off for the BEARS was Mattias Sjogren, who earned his first game-winner of the season when he deflected Julien Brouillette's wrist shot past Igor Bobkov. The goal would be all that the BEARS would need. But for insurance, Ryan Potulny tacked on his fourth of the season in the second period. Jon DiSalvatore would then help set up third-period power play goals by Tomas Kundratek and Boyd Kane, helping goaltender Braden Holtby earn his third shutout of the season. Holtby made 35 saves in the victory. On Saturday, a shorthanded goal from Matt Calvert in the first period was all that the visiting Springfield Falcons would need en route to a 1-0 win over HERSHEY. Holtby was again stellar, earning third-star honors with 29 saves in the game. His counterpart Curtis McElhinney picked up his league-leading sixth shutout of the campaign, at times fighting the puck in making 19 saves. The game featured a BEARS penalty kill that was perfect on nine opposing power plays.
The BEARS will play a home-and-home set against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, beginning tonight at GIANT Center and wrapping up tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre Township. The Albany Devils visit GIANT Center in the BEARS last game of calendar year 2012 on Saturday.
BEARS NEWS AND NOTES
BUCKLING DOWN ON "D": The BEARS have held their opponents to one goal or less in four of the team's past five games, and now rank fifth in the AHL in goals against per game (2.62).
IN GOOD COMPANY: G Braden Holtby has 72 career wins in a HERSHEY sweater, placing him alone in seventh place all-time. His 13 career shutouts rank fifth in BEARS history.
P-MAC CLIMBING: D Patrick McNeill is also moving closer to a big HERSHEY milestone, having played in 287 games in Chocolatetown. He ranks tied for 47th with Yuri Babenko in games played, and his 139 career points (31-108-139) rank ninth in team history.
TAFFE AT THE TOP: C Jeff Taffe saw a seven-game assist streak snapped on Saturday, a streak that is tied for the longest in the AHL this season. Taffe leads all BEARS in scoring (6-23-29), he ranks third overall in AHL assists (23), tied for second in power-play helpers (11) and tied for sixth in the AHL scoring race.
TOMAS TOPS THE "D": D Tomas Kundratek picked up his fifth power-play goal of the season on Wednesday against Norfolk, which ties for tops among AHL defensemen. Also among all defensemen, his nine goals rank tied for third, his 18.0% shooting percentage ranks third, and his 17 points (9-8-17) rank tied for 14th.
TIGHT GAMES: Of the BEARS' 29 games played to date, nearly half have finished with a one-goal margin. The BEARS are 6-6-1-1 in one-goal games.
ROAD CREW: The BEARS currently own the league's longest active road winning streak, at five games. The streak is also the third longest in the AHL this season.
BEST FANS: Through 16 games at GIANT Center, the BEARS are once again at the top of the standings, averaging a crowd of 9,204 per game.