This isn’t how it was supposed to go. After dropping their first two games at home, the Hershey Bears finished off their three-game Midwest road trip against the Rockford IceHogs with a decisive 5-2 loss. This, of course, meaning that the Bears are now 0-5-0 in this young season, and not quite producing in ways that fans would imagine.
Hershey regulars and newcomers alike continue to score, including Sergei Shumakov, who potted his first two AHL goals in Hershey’s 6-3 loss to the Grand Rapid Griffins on Friday night. The defense, however, is not playing well enough to keep the opponents off of the scoreboard. In Sunday’s game against the IceHogs, Hershey twice managed to come back from a single-goal deficit, only to have each of those tying scores wiped away by a responsive goal from Rockford. The Bears’ philosophy from previous seasons of “chasing three” seems to be a much-needed mantra in the locker room for the time being.
Special teams once again have become a thorn in the side of the Bears, with this 5-game skid seeing power plays registering only a single goal in 15 opportunities while allowing seven goals in 19 penalty kill situations. Simply put, Hershey is committing far too many avoidable minor penalties that result in an average of 1.4 power play goals against per game. Combining this with the average scored power play goals per game of only .2 goals in three tries, and the chocolate and white clearly have quite a ways to go when it comes to man-advantage and short-handed play.
Let’s level with the facts; the season is only five games old for the Bears. They have a new head coach, a slew of new players in all positions on the ice, and are thus struggling to find their identity right now. I will not make any more excuses for the Bears starting off the season winless through five games, but the reality is that the Hershey Bears are a team in the middle of a severe restructuring. Under the tutelage of head coach Spencer Carbery, there is hope for this young squad to turn things around while the season is still in its infancy. The talent is there, as is the potential for success, but there seems to be an ingredient missing from the winning formula. With the reassignment of center Jayson Megna to Hershey from the Washington Capitals, perhaps we will see some shake-ups in line formation that will lead to more offensive success, allowing Carbery and Co. to rely less on their lackluster-of-late defensive corps and questionable goaltending situation.
The Bears will attempt to right this ship in what is likely to be a heated match-up against bitter rivals at the Mohegan Sun Arena, where they will face off with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins on Wednesday night. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:05 EST on AHL TV.
Photo Credit: NoVa Caps Fans