Behind Enemy Lines: “Bears Preview: Fighting To Finish”

der Eishockeyzuschauer files the following report on Hershey, in advance of tonight’s game.  A full “Hockey Night” post will follow shortly:


Although the Hershey Bears have played a total of just 23 games so far this season, the 11-time Calder Cup champion have already shown a remarkable ability to get meaningful things done when it matters most. No fewer than ten times already this fall, the Bears have been able to score a goal with less than four minutes remaining in regulation which has either tied or won the hockey game in question. No less than half a dozen of these late goals have been game-winners and even though the four game-tying goals on the following list led to shootout losses, the simple fact is the four points gained from those results are the equivalent of two victories in the season standings :
58:49 – GWG by Mitchell … 10/23 – Utica
62:50 – GWG by Bourque … 10/24 – Hartford
59:47 – GTG by Vrana … 10/25 – Hartford
57:53 – GTG by Sill … 11/01 – Lehigh Valley
56:13 – GWG by Mitchell … 11/15 – Rochester
59:45 – GWG by Carrick … 11/20 – Portland
63:43 – GWG by Carey … 11/25 – Providence
56:33 – GTG by Carey … 11/27 – Lehigh Valley
59:17 – GTG by Stephenson … 12/04 – Hartford
59:30 – GWG by Bourque … 12/05 – Lehigh Valley
Hershey Bears welcomed back stay-at-home defenseman Ryan Stanton, the 26-year-old NHL veteran who spent all of the last two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, for the home game with Atlantic Division leaders and intra-state rival Wilkes-Barre Scanton Penguins at the Giant Center this past Sunday. The undrafted Canadian legionnaire now in his sixth pro season (18 ga, 1 go, 6 pts, 20 pen, + 2 def) had missed the previous four games on the trot, three of which resulted in losses for the Bears. As matters unfolded in Chocolate Town on Sunday, Stanton was a + 3 on defense as Hershey decisively defeated WBS 4-1. 
The very next day, however, the 11-time Calder Cup champions discovered that the club’s parent, the Washington Capitals, had just summoned puck-moving defenseman Aaron Ness. Indeed, it was the first NHL recall for the 25-year-old American from the University of Minnesota who was the 2nd round pick (# 40 overall) of the New York Islanders at the 2008 NHL Draft in more than two full calendar years. The somewhat undersized Ness (5’10” 192 lbs), who already has 29 career NHL games for the Islanders under his belt, leads all Hershey Bears defensemen this season with both nine assists and a + 5 plus/minus rating.
Fortunately for the Brown Team, puck-moving defenseman Connor Carrick (23 ga, 5 go, 12 pts, 30 pen, + 3 def) has been in very good form recently as evidenced by his three goals in his last eight AHL games.    
Meanwhile, the head coach Troy Mann’s club must continue to make due without the services of talented Czech teenager Jakub Vrana or the valuable checking line duo of team captain Garrett Mitchell and Liam O’Brien but Hershey Bears veteran scoring star Chris Bourque has snapped out of his little four-game slump to record goals in back-to-back games including, of course, the dramatic game-winner with just 21 seconds left against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last Saturday night … it is the irrepressible Bourque who leads Hershey with both three goals and four points from the Bears’ four games with Lehigh Valley this season so far.
One player who has really been blossoming for the Bears as of late is Nathan Walker (22 ga, 5 go, 10 pts, 8 pen, + 2 def), the smallish left wing who was the 3rd round pick (# 89 overall) of the Washington Capitals at the 2014 NHL Draft and is now in his third season as a professional for Hershey. The 21-year-old native of Cardiff, Wales, who represents Australia internationally and honed his skills skating for HC Vitkovice in the Czech Republic’s elite league went pointless in his first eight games the Bears this fall but now boasts three goals and six points from his last five contests and eight points (3 go, 5 as) from his last nine AHL games overall. The undersized Walker (5’8″ 186 lbs) had scored six goals in 71 career AHL games coming into the new season but now already counts five goals from just 22 AHL games this term including the pair of strikes in four games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.   
Former Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Austin Fyten, who has already been recalled from the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League by the Bears twice this fall, has only participated in six of Hershey’s first 23 games of this 2015/16 AHL season but three of those appearances have come against his former employers based in Allentown. The sometimes feisty 24-year-old who adorned the # 11 sweater for the Hamilton Street Heroes last term has registered one assist against the Phantoms this season but also sports a – 2 defensive rating in three games for Hershey against Lehigh Valley, as well. It is interesting to note that Saturday Night Fyten accumulated 85 penalty minutes in 64 AHL games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season but has taken just one minor penalty in half a dozen games for the Hershey Bears thus far. 
Whether or not the 200-pound Fyten wants any part of good ole’ One Punch Goulbourne at the PPL Center on Wednesday night is yet to be determined.   

Categories: Phantoms Hockey


1 reply


  1. HOCKEY NIGHT IN ALLENTOWN 12/9/2015: “Does a Bear Shoot in the Woods?” |

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