February Point Streak-The Hershey Bears faced the East Division leaders in the Binghamton Senators last Friday night. The Sens are injury and call up swiss cheese right now but always put up a good fight. The Bears power play got a workout with 8 advantages and converted on 2 of those. Philipp Grubauer looked strong saving 23 out of 26 and improved his record to 4-3 with a 4-3 win. Sunday’s game was against the basement of the East Division, the Norfolk Admirals. The game started at 5 but Hershey didn’t show up until the 3rd period. Norfolk has a comfortable lead at 3-0 on 16 shots heading into the final frame. From the first shift of the third period you could see it might turn out to be a very different game then the first 40 minutes. The energy and physical play had been turned way up. Barry Almeida scored 1:42 into the period and you could see the Bears start to come out of hibernation a little more every minute. Ryan Potulny would pot a beautiful pass to the back of the net at the 10:35 mark to even further wake up the building until it erupted with just 35 seconds left. Ryan would score again and tie the game at 3 to force overtime. The game would eventually end in a 4-3 shootout loss for the Bears but their heart was sure on display for Valentine’s Day week. The Bears are now headed to Hamilton, Toronto and Rochester for a weekend triple play up north this weekend.
Casey Wellman #19
Photo Courtesy of Carl Minieri.
Casey Wellman-Zach Hamill was sent to the Florida Panthers organization on January 31st. The counterpart to the trade headed to Hershey was Casey Wellman. Casey even took Zach’s number and wears number 19 for the Bears. Casey has played 5 games for the Bears and has certainly shown his worth already. His speed is one of the biggest assets the Bears needed to create a quick transition out of the defensive zone and into an offensive stance. With Oates system, the Capitals have not lacked shots on goal like the Bears had because the Caps were better suited with players who could transition up the ice faster. You can also immediately see he is not afraid to take a shot and get in the crease. He had 5 shots alone in his first game. Casey has 4 assists in the 5 games with the Bears but more importantly assisted on both of Ryan Potulny’s goals on Sunday night to force the game to OT. His energy has helped to spark the team along with newcomer Peter LeBlanc. The Bears will expect a lot from him as he becomes familiar with his surroundings.
Changing Crowd-I am not sure how educated the crowd is at the Verizon Center since I haven’t attended enough games to get a feel for the home crowd. I will say this about Hershey though the crowd is a changin’. (This is gonna make me sound like a rocking chair porch dweller) Back in Hersheypark Arena (Old Barn) the crowd was filled with the die hard blue collar workers of the surrounding region. The crowd, for the most part, were avid hockey fans on many levels and had grown up with it. They knew the game. They knew the players. They knew the history. And the teams coming in to the Old Barn knew this. They hated to play here because the crowd was practically on top of them and knew the game and play so well that their comments were very educated heckles. Section 25, where I learned the game, was known as “Murderer’s Row.” I had a mother of a girl I took to a game once ask me how many of us were ex-cons. When the Giant Center opened up there were some immediate changes that happened. The crowd was no longer “on top” of the ice to be easily heard with a pointed heckle. The crowd itself changed as well slowly through the years too. With the addition of Club Seats and the Suites more people were introduced to the game through the White Collar approach. You had businesses buying seats and giving them to clients or employees who didn’t know the game or had never been to one before. A great way to develop new fans but you also had spectators who came because they had a free ticket and tagged along with another. This has completely changed the complexion of the Giant Center fan. You have people who are uneducated in the game of hockey or some even come to have a social hour. Sometimes the uneducated like to Boo or yell shoot for three periods straight. I know we were spoiled before in the level of dedication to the game of those in the seats but depending on the game you have no idea the type of fan or non fan who could be sitting next to you. As a 25 year season ticket holder for the Bears, I am pretty far from any seats that are open to be purchased on a game by game basis and I count my blessings. The simple fact is be kind to the people who go to the game to watch the game and keep your conversations down and pay attention. If you want to conduct business do it in a suite or in between play. You might want to pay attention for your own safety depending on where your seats are in relation to the safety netting around the rink. I am just sharing my viewpoint of how the crowd has changed over the years. We certainly hold the team to a high standard in Hershey and we have become a bit spoiled over the last 75 years with 11 Championships and reaching the Finals another 11 times. Hershey and Giant Center are still a wonderful place to see a game. That is story and I am sticking to it. Now, Get off my lawn!