The new year has not been kind to the Chocolate and White, as they are 2-5-2-1 in 2018 and have fallen to eighth place in the Atlantic Division. With a crowded division that currently homes five teams that have eclipsed the 20-win mark, it will be tough sledding for Hershey to climb back into the playoff picture with just under 40 games to play.
Lately, Hershey has been losing in a multitude of ways, including taking three games to overtime or a shootout during their eight-game skid, but (obviously) losing them all. They’ve lost games because of a lack of offense (they have been held to one goal or less in five games) fueled by a power play that has gone completely cold (3/34 in their last eight games). It’s been a rough stretch for head coach Troy Mann’s young group. After the Bears sixth straight loss, a 4-0 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where the Bears had six power plays, coach Troy Mann expressed, “We had plenty of power plays. I thought we were moving our feet well enough to generate power plays. We had plenty of opportunities on the power play, but we weren’t able to execute and when we did execute either [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Anthony Peters] made the save or we missed the net.”
The Bears’ lack of scoring with the man-advantage is nothing new, as it is an area where Hershey has struggled throughout the season; they are currently ranked 21st in the league in powerplay efficiency at 15.5%.
This Bears’ team heavily relies on the production of their best players, as they have struggled with depth all season long. Lately, the top players for the Bears have underperformed, which is a major reason for the six-game losing streak. Chris Bourque (three points in the last eight games), Travis Boyd (four points), and Riley Barber (1 point) have simply not been able to carry the team to victory. The Bears just do not have enough depth scoring for their top players to have bad games, let alone bad weeks.
With a lot of youth throughout the Bears’ lineup, especially on defense, it is key that the veterans step up and keep the young players from getting down on themselves. They should remember how they started the 2017-18 season with four straight losses – and only one victory in the first seven games – before clawing their way back throughout the winter.