Turning the corner?-The Hershey Bears welcomed the Manchester Monarchs into town last Saturday as well as 2 new players on their own roster. Zach Hamill and Mathieu Beaudoin were traded for Casey Wellman and Peter LeBlanc respectively. They certainly added some jump to the roster as the Bears put up a season high 44 shots and walked away with a great 2-1 team win with Philipp Grubauer racking up 22 saves. Sunday Dany Sabourin mirrored Grubauer’s great performance with a 37 save game. Unfortunately he did not get the win but an overtime loss. Captain Boyd Kane was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while on the bench with just over a minute to go in overtime. The Bears nearly stretched it to the shootout but lost on a shot just inside the left goal post at the 4:49 mark of OT. On Tuesday the Bears traveled to Cleveland to take on the Lake Erie Monsters and left with 2 points on a 3-2 shootout win. Sabourin put up 31 saves and the PK went 7 for 7. Let’s hope the Bears can continue the movement towards putting points on the standings board after getting 5 of 6 in the last 3 games. Binghamton and Norfolk come to Giant Center this weekend. 2 wins against East Division foes would be most welcome about now.
Trade Deadline/Clear Day Changes-The new NHL 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement has made some changes in the AHL as well. The first change is the movement of the trade deadlines to April. The NHL deadline is April 3rd, while the AHL deadline is now April 10th. The AHL clubs used to have to release a Clear Day Roster which was in essence an AHL playoff roster. This used to happen a week after the NHL trade deadline and limited the NHL teams to 4 recalls till the end of the season. The new NHL CBA has eliminated the AHL Clear Day Roster. The AHL Playoff Roster will now be submitted at the end of the regular season. This will no longer limit the number of recalls by the NHL team. Hershey Bears President-GM Doug Yingst said, “It’s a total change in the process, and it probably should have been implemented years ago.” It will certainly give more flexibility to both leagues to make sure their players are where they want them. The concern I have is will the NHL clubs pad their roster with practice squad players, who could be helping the AHL team in their playoff run? Time will tell.
Penn State University vs Ohio University-The Penn State University Ice Hockey program has been turning heads all over the Northeast with their jump to NCAA D-I. February 1st they came to Giant Center to host the Ohio Bobcats. Ohio jumped out to a quick one goal lead but then it was all Blue and White. 6,107 fans showed up to cheer on the PSU Icers. It seemed that all were veteran fans by the knowledge of the cheers from the opening faceoff on. The Lions added 2 goals in the first and 4 in the second to skate away victorious at 6-1 with a boisterous crowd cheering them on. I have a feeling this program will only grow and they are surprising many with the numbers they are putting up on the scoresheet and in the seats.