Photos: Adirondack Phantoms End Hershey Bears Six Game Win Streak

The Hershey Bear’s six-game winning streak was brought to an abrupt halt on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, when they dropped 4-1 to the Adirondack Phantoms. The two hockey clubs faced off on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA—home to the Phantoms NHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Flyers. Forward Matt Watkins buried what would be the Hershey Bears sole goal late in the first period. Coming off a three-game losing streak, Phantoms goaltender Cal Heeter stopped 27 of the Bears’ 28 shots on goal. Tyler Brown, Tye McGinn, Ben Holmstrom, and Jason Akeson were the four Adirondack players to light the lamp at Saturday’ game in Philly.

Click through the slideshow to check out photographs from Saturday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.

Originally published at http://beyondthebenches.com/2014/02/04/adirondack-phantoms-end-hershey-bears-six-game-win-streak/ 

Advertisements

Nate Schmidt Talks Leaving Minnesota, NHL Goals

Post-game interviews following losses are rarely pleasant. Exhausted players anxious to mourn their defeat away from the cameras and microphones are forced by people like to me to relive an unsuccessful 60 minutes. After watching the Hershey Bears fall 3-2 to the Syracuse Crunch on December 27th, I expected a short, sad interview with a defenseman recently assigned to Hershey from the Washington Capitals. Turns out, Nate Schmidt is an exception to this rule.

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 Annie Erling Gofus

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

The 22-year-old Minnesota native has played 29 games with the Washington Capitals this season, tallying 2 goals and 4 assists. After a long stint with the Caps, the 6’0″, 194-pound blueliner has bounced back and forth between Washington and Chocolatetown since mid-December. Most recently, Schmidt was re-assigned to Hershey on January 25th. After three seasons with the University of Minnesota, Schmidt made his professional debut with the Hershey Bears at the end of the 2012-2013 season. The blueliner totalled 12 goals and 62 assists in 96 games as a Golden Gopher.

Although he’s known as a d-man with a penchant for shooting the puck, Schmidt’s most defining trait might be his ever-present smile. And with his trademark grin firmly in place, Schmidt kicked off what was, hands down, the most cheerful and least canned post-game interview I have ever conducted. Read on to see what Nate had to say about Minnesota, his first NHL goal, and teaming up with a former rival.

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

Nate Schmidt Hershey Bears vs Syracuse Crunch 27 Dec 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus)

You played three years at the University of Minnesota, what made you decide to leave early?

I was an undrafted free agent, so it was kind of like being recruited for college all over again. I talked to a lot of different teams. I was thinking about (leaving) after my sophomore year, but education was huge and I know my mom would not have been very happy with me. So, I almost finished (school), I think I had about two classes after the semester left. I almost did all four years in three, but we did summer school, we were down there all year. It was kind of time. I think there were three or four of us that all left at the same time. It was kind of like a big group decision.

You were all Juniors?

Yea, I think it was myself, Nick Bjugstad, he’s playing in Florida right now; Erik Haula, he’s playing for the Wild; and Zach Budish, he’s playing in Milwaukee.

Are you happy you made that decision to leave early?

I had an unbelievable time there. I loved it, every second of college I loved. We had a great team, the school is awesome, the college lifestyle obviously (laughs). The guys who play Major Junior in Canada don’t get to experience it. It’s one of those things: I made the decision, I moved on with it, I’m really happy with where I am right now.

What was your time like in Washington?

It was good. It started off kind of slow. It was being a little a nervous at first. Just trying to get out those first game jitters, but the guys are great up there. They really brought me into the team, and (showed me) how the NHL works, and how the game is different from any other level I’ve played at. It was a great experience, and something that I can try to apply here.

(Schmidt scored his first NHL goal on December 7, 2013 against Marek Mazanec of the Nashville Predators.)

What was your first NHL goal like?

Aw, boy. It was, awww… I didn’t do a whole lot (laughs).

You’re not supposed to say that! Take credit for it!

I’ve gotta give the credit where it’s due. Marty Erat made a great play off the face-off, throws a waist-high pass to me and he sucks the guy in and I’m wide open, so all I had to do was shoot it in. And Joel Ward makes a great screen in front of the net–the goalie never really saw it. But the best part was when John Carlson almost put me in the stands after I scored. And then everyone came over with the congratulatory hug and almost threw me into the third world. It was good though.

It must have been pretty surreal in your first year of professional hockey to be able to experience that.

I would never have guessed that this year would have gone the way it has. It’s been a lot of fun.

How are you planning to continue turning heads up here in Hershey?

I’ve just got to get back to my game. The game’s a little different, and you’ve got to adapt your style to the way the game’s played…. I’m trying to hone in more on my skills I haven’t worked on in the last couple months. I’m trying to be as complete as a player as possible.

Tonight, you were on the ice pretty often with Chay Genoway, who is a University of North Dakota alum. Is there any kind of rivalry between the two of you?

He brought it up before the game! He brought up this bad chemistry right before the game started (laughs). He said, “I can’t believe this, I’m playing with…” I don’t know if it was “a bleepin’ Gopher” or what he said, I’m not really positive, but it was along those lines (laughs). He said it with a smile, I knew he was joking. But you know, it hurt a little bit.

He’s got lots of attitude.

He does, I’m telling you!

I’m glad you were able to put your rivalry aside for tonight.

He’s a great guy and I like him. (UND hockey players) are not as all bad as we think they are.

Hershey Bears Come Out of Hibernation for Shootout Win

Two hat tricks in one night is exceptionally rare in the hockey world, but the GIANT Center was treated to just that—or, at least a version of that—on Wednesday night. In addition to Evan Rankin’s three goals for the Syracuse Crunch, the Gordie Howe Hat Trick’s namesake was in attendance for Hershey’s 4-3 win over Syracuse.

Mr. Hockey himself witnessed the Crunch’s early lead over the Bears, and looked on as Hershey brought a victory home in an 11-round shootout. When told about Howe’s presence at the game Coach Mike Haviland said:

“That’s pretty cool. Certainly one of the best to player to ever play the game, so that’s pretty special.”

Hershey Bears Alternate Captain Tyson Strachan vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears Alternate Captain Tyson Strachan vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Slow Start Ends in Shootout Win for Hershey

After ‘Cuse lit the lamp 31 seconds into the first period, Hershey trailed until the third when, with 3:02 left on the clock, Brandon Segal’s wraparound goal tied it up with help from David Kolomatis and Nate Schmidt. After an unsuccessful overtime, Hershey and Syracuse faced off in a shootout that ran 11 rounds.

Ryan Stoa’s goal kicked things off, and was followed by Stan Galiev sinking one past Kristers Gudlevskis. Rankin and Cedric Paquette scored in the second and third rounds to tie the shootout. After seven rounds of shooters were denied by David Leggio and Gudlevskis,  John Mitchell scored in the eleventh round prompting the Bears to empty their bench for an on-ice celebration.

Hat Trick for Syracuse as Gordie Howe Looks On

Hershey’s win at home can’t overshadow Rankin’s extraordinary showing. After burying a shot 31 seconds in, the Syracuse ringwinger followed up with a second lamp-lighter in the first period and rounded off his hat trick 7:49 into the second period. Unfortunately for the visiting player, not a single hat was thrown on the ice in celebration. But perhaps tallying three goals in two periods with the legendary inventor of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick as witness was good enough.

Gordie Howe is a retired Canadian hockey player famous for his scoring, strength and lengthy career. Howe is the only NHL player whose career stretched between five decades, from the 1940s to the 1980s. A four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, he won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer. A Gordie Howe Hat Trick is achieved when a player scores a goal, records an assist and fights all in one game. It’s named after the infamous Howe who recorded his first namesake hat trick on December 22, 1920.

Howe attended Wednesday’s game with his son Mark Howe, a scout for the Detroit Red Wings. Discussing Howe’s presence at the GIANT Center added a level of glee to  post-game interviews.

“It’s pretty amazing that he’s still coming to all these games,” Segal commented with a smile.

Hershey Bears Julien Brouillette vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears Julien Brouillette vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013 (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey witnessed an outstanding performance from the Nicolas Deschamps-Ryan Stoa-Segal line combination on Wednesday night.

“They cycle, they support each other down low, they hold onto it and they attack the net,” Coach Haviland described the trio. “They’re playing with confidence and they’ve been huge for us.”

“We’ve got some good chemistry going,” Segal said of his linemates. “We moved the puck really well down low. Just a matter of getting in there.”

Hershey Bears' Nate Schmidt and Goaltender David Leggio vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

Hershey Bears’ Nate Schmidt and Goaltender David Leggio vs Syracuse Crunch 18 December 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/Olympus Athletics)

“This game is a lot about confidence.” – Coach Haviland

After their win over Syracuse, the Bears are feeling confident going into this weekend’s match-up against the Worcester Sharks.

“The last couple games we certainly have showed a lot of character coming back, and when we play the way we know how to play, we can hem some teams in,” Coach Haviland explained. “When everybody’s on board and really doing the right things and playing the right way, we’re a tough team to defend in the offensive end.”

The Bears improve to 11-9-2-3 after Wednesday’s win over the Syracuse Crunch. Hershey meets the Worcester Sharks at the GIANT Center on Saturday, December 21 at 7:00 PM and on Sunday, December 22 at 5:00 PM.

Annie Erling Gofus writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.

Originally posted at http://thehockeywriters.com/hershey-bears-beat-syracuse-crunch-in-11-round-shootout/

Sour Loss, Sweet Homecoming for Reading’s Cruthers

It’s hard for a losing team to find a lot of positives in a game that ended 7-2, but the one pro on a long list of cons was the return of the Reading Royals’ former captain and all-time leading scorer Ryan Cruthers. Donning purple and white for the second time this season and the first time at home since 2012, Cruthers and his teammates fell to the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night.

“It’s always hard when you’re down three-nothing early,” Captain Yannick Tifu lamented about the first period. “There’s no excuse. There’s no reason we should have been down three-nothing.”

The Royals left the ice at first intermission out-scored 0-3 and out-shot 4-14. And while the second period saw an uptick in pace against Fort Wayne, this momentum did not follow Reading into the third. After the Komets’ fifth goal lit Reading’s lamp, goaltender Brandon Anderson lost his cool and engaged in the first of three brawls in the last seven minutes of the game. These fights did little to re-charge Reading’s team—the game ended Komets 7 and Reading 2.

“We’re just in a slump,” Tifu told the press after Saturday’s loss. “I told the guys we just need to turn the page and be ready to work Monday morning.”

Reading Royals Forward T.J. Syner  faces the Wheeling Nailers in late November 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Return of a Familiar Face

“We’ve got 14 guys that initially started on our roster that are out,” Coach Larry Courville stated. Plenty of new names have been appearing on the Royals’ roster since the start of the season. In his second game with Reading, Degon dropped the gloves for his new team on Saturday, and Goalie Anderson was in the net for only the 8th time this season.

Among the new faces on the bench was a familiar one for fans at Santander Arena. Former Captain and all-time leading scorer Ryan Cruthers represented the Purple and White at home for the first time since he was traded to the Alaska Aces in March 2012 for Ethan Cox and future considerations.

“Well, you know he’s all-time leading scorer. We were forced to trade him because we weren’t great and he had some value within the league and we ended up trading him for two guys,” explained Coach Courville. “We brought him back for some short numbers… He’s got 5 points in two games. He’s gotta be pretty happy with his performance.”

Reading Royals Ryan Cruthers (Annie Erling Gofus)

Reading Royals Ryan Cruthers (Annie Erling Gofus)

Since leaving Reading, Cruthers finished the 2011-2012 season with the Aces and then moved on to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. Most recently, he has been the Director of Hockey at the Body Zone Sports and Wellness Complex in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania where he manages over 85 kids in the Junior Royals hockey program. After working at what Coach Courville described as “basically a desk job” for the last six months, Cruthers has made a smooth transition back onto the ice.

“It was great, there was a great response. I know a lot kids who play for me are here, family is here, so it was great to be back,” Cruthers said.

Cruthers went on to explain, “Larry called me on Friday. We had talked all summer long, we knew this was probably going to happen, but we were waiting for the right time. And then he called me on Friday, I was away coaching and I told him I’d be there on Monday.”

When asked if his spot on Reading’s roster would last, Cruthers responded, “We’re taking it a day at a time right now.”

The all-time leading scorer for the Royals registered 167 points and 192 penalty minutes in 159 regular season games over three seasons (2009-12). Prior to turning pro, Cruthers split an impressive collegiate career between West Point and Robert Morris University. Before transferring to Robert Morris University, Cruthers was named West Point’s most Outstanding Freshman in 2004 after leading the team in scoring. He was named a captain as a senior at Robert Morris, and finished the season as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award.

The Fort Wayne Komets 7-2 win over the Reading Royals was sour for a team struggling to maintain a steady roster, but it didn’t make Ryan Cruthers’s homecoming any less sweet.

“Hockey is a fun sport,” Cruthers said with a smile. “It was an easy transition. It was like I never left, to be honest.”

Originally published at http://thehockeywriters.com/sour-loss-sweet-homecoming-readings-cruthers/

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.

High Heels on Ice: The Tale of a Female Hockey Writer

If this was Cosmo or Glamour, I’d start my profile of Erica Koup by describing what she wore to our interview. I’d write about her glamorous retro-style sunglasses and how effortlessly beautiful her long, curled locks were. I’d gush about how sweet and down-to-earth she was as we chatted candidly over salads at a Hummelstown gastropub. And, of course, I’d really focus on the salads, because what woman isn’t just wild about salads?

But this isn’t Cosmo. In fact, this might be the exact opposite of trashy websites that cover celebrity break-ups and bikini bod diet tips. This is a hockey blog, and Erica Koup is its stylishly sweet and whip-smart writer.

On any given weekend night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can spot a lone woman in the Bears’ pressbox. Where the NHL scouts end and the bloggers begin sits the founder and author of The Amateur Fan—a blog that focuses on some of Pennsylvania’s finest professional hockey teams. Eyes intently on the ice, scribbling notes and taking breaks only to inform the scout to her left exactly what’s wrong with the Philadelphia Flyers this season, anyone would be shocked to learn this isn’t Erica’s day job.

“I wanted to run for office and be a politician,” the former political science student admits. “I learned about hockey from my full-time job. I worked Hershey Bears games (as a college recruiter). The first game I went to I was like, I can’t believe you’re making me go to this… I had no idea what was going on.”

What began as an annoying job assignment morphed into The Amateur Fan, where Erica has been posting game analysis and opinions for over nine months now. And while falling in love with hockey was easy, finding her place in hockey media wasn’t as simple. As a hockey rookie and a female sports writer, it can be a struggle to gain credibility.

“I think you have to have a lot of guts (to break into the hockey writing field). You need to put yourself out there. And It’s so hard to. Especially as a female,” Erica said. “Because the guys are always thinking they know more than us, because why not? It must come with their genetics that they know more about hockey than females.”

Unfortunately, Erica’s struggle for respect isn’t unique.

Just 50 miles from Hershey, PA is Santander Arena, home to the ECHL’s Reading Royals. Among the standard male media members is Candice Monhollan who is entering her third season covering Royals hockey for various news outlets. With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Candice is a professional sports writer who still faces dubious stares.

“It’s a constant battle being a woman in this field. Just when you think you’ve proved yourself, someone else comes out of the woodwork to attack your credibility,” Candice admitted. “The downside, to be honest, is being a female in such a male-dominated career. In certain leagues, I can’t go into the locker room and even some places (have) to change protocol because I’m around and that shouldn’t be the case.”

Any hockey player will tell you that thick skin is vital in succeeding in this sport. Sometimes you need to let a clean hit roll off your shoulders while on the ice, you need to keep your head up and focus on the game. This is advice a female hockey writer can also learn from.

“The first few times (I published an article), I asked my buddy, can you read this and make sure it makes sense,” Erica recalled. “I’m just nervous to put it out there and be judged by people who maybe know a little more about hockey than me.”

“No one’s ever said you don’t understand hockey, just the English language,” Erica laughed. After posting an article on Reddit, “someone said I used the word ironic wrong.” Thick skin is useful when dealing with critics, but love of the game is far more effective.

To be honest, I invited Erica Koup to lunch in the hopes of delving deep into the painful struggles of a female hockey writer. Instead, I discovered over the course of our three-hour-long meal that Erica has happily embraced the challenges of being a woman in this field, and her hockey obsession may have something to do with it.

“I don’t know anyone else who sparks up a conversation about hockey at the eye doctors,” Erica said with a smile.

Up to three times a week, Erica settles into her assigned seat in the Hershey Bears’ pressbox and takes in her surroundings—the Giant Center’s lively crowd, the banter of fellow writers and the swish of skates on ice. When I asked what her favorite part of the job is, Erica simply replied, “I really like watching the games.” Love of hockey makes sitting in cold arenas for hours so easy, and it makes a career in the sport so desirable.

“I really want to work in the front office somewhere. Maybe community relations for a hockey team,” Erica explained. “If I can still write, I would love to continue writing. I sort of fell into writing. I never saw myself in the media or press category.”

Despite facing occasional negativity, Candice also finds that the pros out-weigh the cons as a female sports writer. “I love being able to get paid to watch sports. It’s one of those jobs where you wake up in the morning and don’t regret having to go to work. I love having the ability to travel and meet so many people and I enjoy above all else getting to write and share with others the unique story of an athlete.”

With The Amateur Fan’s first birthday just around the corner, Erica has plans for her second year of hockey writing—expansion, promotion and maybe a trip up North to hockey’s motherland…?

“Yea, I really do think that Canadians are perfect. I love it,” Erica joked as she described a recent trip to Toronto. “I thought I was going to cross the border and it was going to be like Celine Dion and hockey players everywhere.”

Erica Koup: Fashionista, hockey writer, Canada’s number one. Obviously.

Erica Koup and Annie Erling Gofus in the Reading Royals' press room. (Annie Erling Gofus)

Erica Koup and Annie Erling Gofus in the Reading Royals’ press room. (Annie Erling Gofus)

Five Girlie Questions for a Girl About Hockey:

1. Do you love or hate hockey players’ mustaches during the month of Movember?
“I love them. I admire them from the pressbox. I really want to know who has the best mustache on the Bears team. Jeff Taffe can’t grow hair on his head, but he’s pretty solid in the mustache category. I like the handlebars, I think it’s a flashback to the 70s.

2. What’s your favorite hockey jersey?
“I really like the Reading Royals’ jerseys. I like purple and the lion with the crown. The throwback jersey the Hershey Bears wore—that was a really cool jersey. And I like the Avs’ jersey, I think they have nice colors.”

3. Who is your hockey player crush?
“The reason I became a Flyers fan was not because I knew anything about the Flyers, but because of Zac Rinaldo. Gabriel Landeskog comes in a close second.”

4. Would you rather your boyfriend have Brent Burns no-teeth smile or Steve Downie’s scary red post-Washington Capitals line brawl eyeball?
“Steve Downie. I didn’t see the red eyeball, but I’ve seen the developing black eye. It’s tough.”

5. What are your secrets to staying warm and looking cute at hockey games?
“Pants, nice sweater and heels. I stay pretty warm, but throughout the game it always gets colder.”

6. Puck Bunnies, thoughts?
“I don’t think I’ve run into any puck bunnies. It has to be real, because I hear it’s real, but I don’t have any thoughts on that… If you look cute going to the game, does that qualify you as a puck bunny?”

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.

Originally published at http://theamateurfan.blogspot.com/2013/12/high-heels-on-ice-tale-of-female-hockey.html?spref=tw

Golden Goaldtending Can’t Save Hershey Bears In Home Loss for thehockeywriters.com

With the memory of Friday night’s loss still fresh in their minds, the Bears faced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday for what would turn out to be a repeat performance. Despite incredible goaltending by David Leggio, Hershey fell to the Baby Penguins 4-2.

After a disappointing loss at the Mohegan Sun Arena two nights ago, Hershey looked to improve their home record and welcome the Baby Pens to one of the rowdiest rinks in the AHL.

“(Our home record) is a big concern.” Coach Mike Haviland said after Saturday’s game, “We have to get away from feeling comfortable at home… This building is the best building to play in. When teams come in here they think it’s an amazing thing. There’s 8,500, 10,000 people a night. It’s a great crowd. It’s a beautiful building. Teams are excited to play here. If you’re in the American Hockey League, you’re excited to play here. And we, for some reason, decide that we don’t want to play here. We just want to go through the motions here… We have to make this a tough building to come into.”

The Hershey Bears faced the W-B/Scranton Penguins for the second night in a row on Saturday. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Bears started Saturday night with zest as defenseman David Kolomatis and alternate captain Jeff Taffe drilled home two goals less than half way through the first period. It also didn’t take long for these teams’ dislike for each other to surface as five players were penalized for fighting and roughing in the first 20 minutes of the game. In a period that saw the home team out-shot 12-7, the Chocolate and White led the Penguins into the first intermission 2-0.

After an action-packed first period, the Bears lost control of the game. Chris Conner, Harry Zolnierczyk and Tom Kuhnhackl of W-B/Scranton all tallied goals in the second period.

“We stopped playing, we stopped moving our feet,” Coach Mike Haviland said of his team. “(The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) work hard, they chip pucks, they play a simple, simple game,” Haviland commented. “They wait for you to make mistakes, they frustrate you.”

Hershey Bears' Tyson Strachan and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' Adam Payerl trade blows in the first period. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Around the 12 minute mark of the third period, defenseman Chay Genoway fired a shot at goalie Jeff Deslauriers that faked out spectators and players alike–the lamp lit, the crowd cheered, but after review it was decided the puck never crossed the red line. Coach Haviland was among the number who thought the goal was good:

“I thought it went in… would have been a nice little break for us.”

With just two minutes left to play, the Penguins hammered the final nail in the coffin with a goal by Andrew Ebbett. A frustrating night for the entire Bears organization, but possibly none more so than goaltender Leggio. Named one of the three stars of Saturday’s game, Leggio’s magic mitts weren’t enough to drag his team back from a 2 goal deficit.

“The goalie makes unbelievable saves. If he wasn’t in there it could have been 6, 7,” Haviland commented on Leggio’s performance. “We have to play better in front of (Leggio). It’s not a goalie issue right now. We don’t have a goalie issue.”

Hershey Bears' Cameron Schilling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' Harry Zolnierczyk. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

“(The Club) is pulling guys in, we’re pulling guys out, we’re calling guys up now, we’re trying to send messages to guys, we’re benching guys, you’ve got to push buttons.”

Early on Saturday, The Bears announced they had recalled T.J. Syner from the Reading Royals, and the forward made his 2013-2014 Hershey debut that same night. Syner joined Hershey late in the 2011-2012 season after playing four years at the University of Massachusetts where he was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award. He was among the players to make a positive impression on Coach Haviland on Saturday:

“We need speed. He’s been playing outstanding on all the reports we got… I thought he played great tonight. We need more speed in the lineup, we need to get up and get after teams, and I think speed kills. And certainly he and Walker were our best two guys up front tonight. They got up and got after it.”

Hershey dropped to 1-2-1-0 at home, and will meet the Norfolk Admirals at the GIANT Center today at 5pm.

Originally published at http://thehockeywriters.com/golden-goaldtending-couldnt-save-hershey-bears/

T.J. Syner Returns to the Reading Royals for thehockeywriters.com

Although separated by only 50 miles, the journey from Hershey to Reading can seem long for an ECHL player eying an AHL roster spot. Movement between the Washington Capitals, the Hershey Bears and the Reading Royals has been free-flowing early this season, with players like Dmitry Orlov being recalled to the NHL, and others being re-assigned to the ECHL.

“(The Club) is pulling guys in, we’re pulling guys out, we’re calling guys up now, we’re trying to send messages to guys, we’re benching guys, you’ve got to push buttons,” Coach Mike Haviland said after a November loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Forward T.J. Syner returned to the Reading Royals in time to face the Wheeling Nailers. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Last Minute Re-Assignment an Opportunity to Stand Out

Early on November 2nd, The Bears announced they had recalled T.J. Syner from the Reading Royals, and the forward made his 2013-2014 Hershey debut that same night. Syner joined Hershey late in the 2011-2012 season after playing four years at the University of Massachusetts where he was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award. Although Hershey lost to the Baby Penguins 4-2, Syner was among the players to make a positive impression on Coach Haviland during the November 2nd game:

“We need speed. He’s been playing outstanding on all the reports we got… I thought he played great tonight. We need more speed in the lineup, we need to get up and get after teams, and I think speed kills. And certainly he and Walker were our best two guys up front tonight. They got up and got after it.”

T.J. Syner Playing for the Hershey Bears in early November 2013. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

“I need to wait for an opportunity to present itself, and I need to be ready when it does.”

After two Bears games and recording five penalty minutes, Syner returned to Hershey’s ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals, in time to help his flu-ravaged team to victory against the Wheeling Nailers on November 20th. With six or seven players out sick that night, Reading struggled to match Wheeling’s intense physical game.

“They work really hard, they finish every check,” Syner commented on the Nailers. “It’s hockey—you’ve gotta be able to take a hit. They’re good at that, getting under your skin.”

Reading Royals' Mike Banwell faces off with Wheeling Nailers' Paul Cianfrini. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

“I didn’t think the first half of the game we were very good,” Royals Coach Larry Courville recalled. “ I didn’t feel we played with enough passion, energy, heart—all the things you need to be successful. And then halfway through the game, I think we got our legs.”

After a scoreless overtime, the Reading Royals out-scored the Wheeling Nailers in a shootout, bringing the team’s record against the Nailers to 4-0-0-0.

With a win on his first night back in Reading, Syner reflected on his time in Hershey and what the rest of the season may hold:

“(My time with the Hershey Bears) was a good experience,” Syner said. “It’s better to be playing down here than to be sitting in the stands up there. I’ve just got to wait for my opportunity again. The season is long… I need to wait for an opportunity to present itself, and I need to be ready when it does.”

Originally published at http://thehockeywriters.com/t-j-syner-returns-reading-royals/

Annie Erling Gofus also writes for Olympus Athletics. Follow Annie on Twitter (@AnnieErGo) or email her at annie.erling@gmail.com.

Hershey Bears vs Hartford Wolf Pack: Photos

After three years as the Connecticut Whale, the Hartford Wolf Pack is celebrating its return to a more predatory moniker by preying on the Hershey Bears. No offense to whales, but an entire pack of bloodthirsty wolves is much scarier than a pod of marine mammals, and Hartford lived up to its name change at Saturday’s game. Hartford battled through a second period deficit to come out of Giant Center with a 4-3 victory over Hershey.

Read more here…

Click an image to start the slideshow!

Hartford Wolf Pack Top Hershey Bears via thehockeywriters.com

After three years as the Connecticut Whale, the Hartford Wolf Pack is celebrating its return to a more predatory moniker by preying on the Hershey Bears. No offense to whales, but an entire pack of bloodthirsty wolves is much scarier than a pod of marine mammals, and Hartford lived up to its name change at Saturday’s game. Hartford battled through a second period deficit to come out of Giant Center with a 4-3 victory over Hershey.

Hoping for the first home win since last spring, 8,001 fans cheered on the Bears at the Giant Center. Lighting the lamp first, Bears’ Assistant Captain Taffe found the back of the net with a little help from Dmitry Orlov who tallied his fifth point in two games. Late in the first, by freak accident or sheer force from the 210-pound d-man, Orlov’s stick snapped in two allowing Wolf Pack Center Oscar Lindberg to score.

Hershey Bears Defenseman Chay Genoway moments after scoring. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)
Hershey Bears Defenseman Chay Genoway moments after scoring. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Hartford opened the second period by scoring on a Power Play, but Hershey answered with two consecutive goals. Blueliner Chay Genoway scored with an assist from Connor Carrick and Tyler Ruegsegger, followed by a goal from Michael Latta who got the assist from  Tyson Strachan and Matt Watkins.

“We couldn’t seem to get any flow to our game and it definitely showed.”

The Chocolate and White strolled into the third period leading 3-2, which was about the same time that the Wolf Pack’s killer instincts kicked in. New York Rangers forward prospect Danny Kristo sunk one in on a power-play at the front end of the third, followed only five minutes later by a snap shot from Andrew Yogan. Although they had 11 minutes and 33 seconds to retaliate, this Bear Sleuth couldn’t muster the strength to tie the game. Holding last place in the East Division, Saturday’s loss dropped the Bears to a 1-3-1-0 record through five games.

Hartford celebrates after a goal by the Wolf Pack. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

“It’s just unacceptable coming out in the third period like that,” Genoway said after Saturday’s loss. “We’ve got to learn to react better when the other team scores or ties the game up… We talked a lot in the second period. All the right things were said. We just came out flat. We couldn’t seem to get any flow to our game and it definitely showed.”

“We took another lazy penalty and they score a goal on it,” Bears head coach Mike Haviland said. “We seemed to get back on our heels a little bit. And then, again, we decide to play the last four minutes and go after them a little bit.”

“We have to go after teams all the time. And it has to be in waves and it has to be everybody and it can’t be three or four guys. We had too many passengers tonight. You can’t play the game with passengers. We need everybody on board.”

Not All Heartache Last Night

While a rough night for the Bears, there are two happier occurrences to note about Saturday’s game. The first being that the super young anthemist totally nailed The National Anthem. And the second was Coco the Bear looking on as a Hershey fan get down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend—she said yes! Now that your heart has warmed slightly, remember that the Hershey Bears close their weekend series by facing the Norfolk Admirals today at the Giant Center at 5pm.

Originally posted to http://thehockeywriters.com/hartford-wolf-pack-drop-hershey-4-3/ by Annie Erling Gofus

Hershey Bears Drop Utica 6-0 in Pre-Season Opener

The Hershey Bears’ new coaching staff made a stellar debut on Friday night with a win against the Utica Comets. New bench boss Mike Haviland saw six of his players score in a game where visiting Utica tallied zero on the scoreboard. Five of the six goal-scorers donned the Chocolate and White for the first time last night, proving this young team has excellent potential to start a new era of Bears hockey.

The first to find the back of the net was Nathan Walker, who, with the help of defenseman Patrick Wey, fired a slapshot that rattled Comets’ goalie Joe Cannata’s throat guard before falling over the goal line. Walker’s first goal with Hershey was the cherry on top of an already great week for the rookie. Bears President/GM Doug Yingst announced Tuesday that the club had signed the 19-year-old Australian to an AHL contract for the 2013-2014 season.

Hershey Bears Center Matt Watkins assists Josh Brittain in scoring on September 27, 2013. (Ann Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Hershey Bears Center Matt Watkins assists Josh Brittain in scoring on September 27, 2013. (Ann Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Joining Walker on Friday night’s scorecard was Josh Brittain with an assist from Matt Watkins; a slapshot from Peter LeBlanc assisted by Chay Genoway and Stan Galiev; Genoway and LeBlanc assisting Derek Whitmore sinking’s backhand shot.

Tyler Ruesegger scored with help from forwards Brandon Segal and Ryan Stoa; and, for the sixth and final goal, Garrett Mitchell found the back of the net with a play assisted by forward Jamie Johnson and defenseman Julien Brouillette.

As fast as the Bears were knocking them in, Hershey’s goaltender David Leggio was knocking Comets shots down. Leggio was in mid-season form, stopping all 25 shots he faced in the crease. Hershey out-shot Utica with 30 shots on goals, and saw Cannata turn away 24 of them.

New Isn’t Always Better—The Newest Team in the League Faced the Oldest in Friday’s Match-up

The Utica Comets joined the AHL this summer, and faced off against the Hershey Bears on September 27, 2013. (Ann Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Utica Comets joined the AHL this summer, and faced off against the Hershey Bears on September 27, 2013. (Ann Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

Friday night’s game was not only the premiere of Haviland and assistant coach Ryan Mougenel, but also the second game ever for the newly formed Utica Comets. Based in Utica, New York, the Comets are the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Founded in 1932, the Comet franchise moved through six cities and six different names before it was announced in March 2013 that Canucks Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, had purchased the franchise.

Vancouver ditched its previous AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, renamed the franchise and moved it to Utica, NY. It was just three month ago, on June 14th, that the Utica Comets name, affiliation, logo and jerseys—mirroring the Canucks’ blue, green and silver color scheme—were revealed. A month later, Travis Green was named head coach of the brand-spankin’ new team. The Comets are the second AHL team to call Utica home. Before them came the Utica Devils who played in the city from 1987 until 1993, and were an affiliated of the New Jersey Devils.

Friday night’s match-up leaves The Bears 1-0-0-0 in the pre-season, while Utica falls to 0-2-0-0. The Comets have already played their first pre-season game, which was a 5-2 loss Sunday night at Abbotsford. The Bears will continue their pre-season schedule today at 7:00pm when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins visit GIANT Center.

Originally posted to http://thehockeywriters.com/hershey-bears-drop-utica-6-0-pre-season-opener/ by Annie Erling Gofus