Bears Weekly: Hershey Gains Momentum for Big Road Weekend
(Hershey, PA) - Last weekend, the Hershey Bears had a strong stretch of play away from Central Pennsylvania, collecting five of a possible six points in a critical road trip versus key Atlantic Division rivals. Hershey has 81 points, topping the Atlantic Division, and tied with Belleville for the most in the Eastern Conference. The Bears record is 37-18-3-4 through 62 games, and the team has reduced its Magic # to just 15. This weekend, the Bears host Toronto on Friday evening, and welcome Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night to Giant Center.
Last Friday, Hershey earned a 1-0 win in a tight-checking affair at Hartford. The lone goal of the contest came with just 5:48 left in regulation as defender Eddie Wittchow connected on a one-timer for Hershey. Vitek Vanecek earned a 30-save shutout.
The two teams rematched at the XL Center last Saturday, and Hershey came up with another victory over the Wolf Pack, scoring the 4-1 win. Hershey tallied three goals in the middle frame, and Brian Pinho struck for a goal and an assist in the victory. With the win, Hershey claimed the season series versus Hartford, earning four wins in six tries.
On Sunday, Hershey earned a hard-fought point in a 3-2 shootout loss at Providence. The Bruins earned their 11th straight win, but it came at a cost. Providence led 2-0, but the Bears scored twice in the final two minutes with the goaltender pulled to tie the game and force overtime, keeping Providence from moving into a tie for first place in the division.
Tickets to all home games are on sale now at the Giant Center Box Office, or online via Ticketmaster.
-Friday, Mar. 13 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Scout Night, BOGO Kids Dippin' Dots
-Saturday, Mar. 14 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7 p.m.
Penn State Health T-Shirt Night (All Fans), Healthcare Night
WEEKLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Wednesday, Mar. 11: 10:30 a.m., Practice, Giant Center
Thursday, Mar. 12: 10:30 a.m., Practice, Giant Center
Friday, Mar. 13: 10 a.m., Morning Skate, Giant Center
Saturday, Mar. 14: 10 a.m., Morning Skate, Giant Center
*Practice schedule subject to change. Follow @TheHersheyBears on Twitter for updates.
VICTORIOUS VITEK: Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek enjoyed an exceptional set of games last weekend, stopping 56 of 57 Hartford shots to propel the Bears to a pair of victories. Vanecek stopped all 30 shots he faced in Friday's win to earn his second shutout of the season. It was Vanecek's 11th shutout with Hershey, tying him with Philipp Grubauer for seventh all-time in franchise history. Vanecek's 2.26 goals against average this season ranks sixth in the AHL. He is just a victory shy of posting back-to-back 20 win seasons. He is two wins away from tying Braden Holtby for seventh all-time in franchise history in wins.
LIFE OF BRIAN: Hershey forward Brian Pinho notched his 20th goal of the season last Saturday, joining Matt Moulson (22) as the club's only other 20-goal scorer. Pinho, who scored just four times in 73 games in his rookie season last year, has scored three times shorthanded this season and is also tied for the team lead with four game-winning markers this season. He has a four-game point streak entering this week, collecting five points (two goals, three assists).
IT'S MAGIC: With last weekend's strong results, Hershey continued to move closer to a berth in the playoffs. Hershey's Magic # is now just 15. A team's Magic # is reduced when it earns standings points, or when the team with the highest possible total outside the playoff picture fails to earn standings points. A team clinches a playoff berth when its Magic # reaches zero.
NAVIGATING THE ATLANTIC: The Bears enter this week with only six games remaining against Atlantic Division opponents (Charlotte-2, Lehigh Valley-2, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-2). Hershey currently holds a 31-14-2-3 record in divisional play after claiming five of six points last weekend against Hartford and Providence. Last season, the Chocolate and White concluded 2018-19 with a 32-14-2-4 divisional record. Furthermore, the Bears are 18-6-1-1 on home ice in divisional play, and 13-8-1-2 on the road.
BEARS BITES: Hershey forward Mike Sgarbossa is three assists away from 100 in his professional career...Hershey's penalty kill has been successful in 19 of the past 20 attempts... Forward Philippe Maillet played in his 200th AHL and professional game last Saturday, scoring in the win at Hartford...The Bears have drawn over 10,000 fans in seven of the club's past eight home games...Bobby Nardella's 27 assists are the most by a Hershey rookie defender since John Carlson had 35 in 2009-10...Defender Martin Fehervary's plus/minus of +16 is fourth among rookie defenders in the AHL.
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