[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, PA featuring a weekly chat on all things Hershey Bears.]
Bad News Bears- Friday night the Bears headed to the home of the rival WBS Penguins. The Bears skated a good game with solid checking and okay offensive pressure. Thankfully the Bears PP came alive and scored 3 to win the game 3-1. Holtby made 38 saves and really seemed to keep the Bears on top of the scoreboard. Saturday the Bears returned home to face the St. John’s Ice Caps. Dany Sabourin got the start and put up a great effort in the blue paint stopping 25 shots. The Bears just didn’t seem to have the gas in the tank to get the job done. They simply couldn’t keep the play out of their defensive zone most of the night. A 2-1 Ice Cap victory was the result. On Sunday the Portland Pirates came to town to grab 2 points and succeded. The Pirates left town with a 3-1 win over a Bears team that once again spent a lot of time in the defensive zone minus a couple of breakout moments here and there. Holtby ended up with another strong game with 31 saves but not the win.
Adam Oates Game Plan-It is pretty obvious that the “Adam Oates Game Plan” is a very defensive minded setup. It asks the goalies to get involved and move the puck as well. This has not been the case here in Hershey for some time and I think the team is built to more suit an offensive first strategy. Hershey has a great goaltending team and very competent blue-liners but many of the forwards are a more experienced bunch who can put the puck in the net. The issue I believe so far is the transition to that offensive zone. The “AOGP” calls for fast, sly forwards to move the puck quickly out of a defensive stature and through the neutral and offensive zone. Hershey isn’t built this way. They are built with older experienced offensive weapons who can bury some rubber. I think this is the inconsistency that is happening right now with the Bears. They just can’t make that transition through the neutral zone fast enough and with enough bodies to setup a lengthy offensive threat. To support my theory I looked at game shot totals. The Bears have been giving up 30-50% more shots then they have been firing. Take it or leave it but this is my take so far.
Photo Courtesy of Carl Minieri
T.J. Syner- One player who has helped bridge the gap between the defensive and offensive threats for Hershey has been T.J. Syner. His speed and puck handling has been a fresh and welcome force since his call up from Reading in late October. His cousin Barry Almeida has also given us this speed to help transition the Bears through the neutral zone and up ice. We have started to see a younger, faster player on a line paired with 2 veteran offensive threats. I hope that continues to help the Bears gain some substantial time in the offensive zone and not blocking shots in front of their own netminder. I look forward to seeing the growth of these younger players as they transition into professional hockey from their college years.
Adam Oates HOF induction-The remarkable career of Adam Oates cannot be overlooked. 19 season in the NHL as an incredible playmaker. He was always ready to dish the puck to a teammate. This is something he relates back to his father teaching him to be unselfish. It led to 1,079 assists and I am sure his teammates always appreciated the pass. He is a true bank of hockey knowledge and experience. His very analytical mind will suit him well in his coaching future. Congrats on the HHOF induction Oatesy. It certainly was a mere formality.
Bernie Parent-No, I didn’t stumble. Bernie “Only the Lord Saves More” Parent. I got to interview a living legend on Monday’s The Old Barn Hockey Show. I got goose bumps three times in 20 minutes while we interviewed the 2 time Stanley Cup Champion, 2 time Vezina winner, 2 time Conn Smythe winner, and Hockey Hall of Famer. I am pretty sure a better story teller would be hard to find. Listen in here.