Tonight could have gone very differently. Despite rediscovering their offensive mojo, the Hershey Bears could not generate a lead over the Texas Stars. With the end of regulation looming, the Bear shook off the threat of a do-or-die game 5 with Captain America John Carlson’s razor-sharp deflection past Stars goalie Matt Climie. An empty netter from Alexandre Giroux sealed the deal, and now we’re facing a unique prospect: the Calder Cup will be awarded in Hershey. With the series finally tied, the only question remains who will claim it.
Andrew Gordon continues his RMNB residency by providing a glance at the Hershey Bears’ trip to Texas. In anticipation of tonight’s game (8:30 on Comcast SportsNet), Andrew shares some photos of himself posing with Mathieu Perreault in the locker room, the Bears boarding their jet, and Captain America John Carlson mugging for the camera on ice.
A view of the arena in Austin from the top row.
Andrew Gordon scored two of the Bears’ six goals in last night’s game with the Texas Stars, including the game winner. In today’s piece, Andrew discusses the win, getting over the bad breaks of the first period, and digging deep in the post season.
I don’t need to explain how badly we needed to win this game. Going down 3-0 with two more games in their building just wasn’t an option. We needed to make a statement about who we are, and we did just that. It didn’t look good early though. After letting up a goal on the first shot of the game (a ricochet off of Boyd Kane’s skate), and a shorthanded tap in after a miscue between Neuvy and our defenseman, I felt like nothing could go right. We were a team stuck in Murphy’s Law: Whatever could go wrong, seemed to.
After the first period, all the talk in the dressing room was about us. We knew we couldn’t take back the bad bounces that happened. We couldn’t play that period over again. But we knew if we used the last 40 minutes to play the way we know how, and stick to the game plan we could give ourselves a chance. From that point forward our attitude was completely different. We started shooting the puck, driving the net, limiting the odd man rushes against and only made high risk plays when it absolutely had to be done. By not giving them anything for free, we slowly started to take over. Every shift was like shooting a little more energy into our veins. We started to believe in ourselves and our abilities again. By the time the third period started, we had our swagger back. We were the Bears again, and when that buzzer sounded to end tonight’s game my thoughts shot back to the feeling I had so often this season. I got a taste of winning again, and as a team I can safely say we liked it.
After an absolutely dreadful start which saw the Bears take a 3-1 deficit into the first intermission, even the most optimistic of Bears fans would have thought that the chances of Hershey coming back in this series were slim. But Head Coach Mark French showed confidence in his players and made the necessary adjustments. He allowed Michal Neuvirth to return in net for the second period, despite witnessing last year’s playoff MVP flub a clearing attempt on a first-period powerplay. Neuvy’s whiff led to Texas’s second goal of the night, an unassisted short-handed goal by Francis Wathier. French then subtlety tinkered with his forward combinations promoting Chris Bourque to the top line and dropping the 2008-09 AHL MVP, Alexandre Giroux, to the second. It paid immediate dividends.
Hershey went on to score five unanswered goals, punctuated by two third period tallies by Andrew Gordon which included the eventual game-winning goal. The Hershey Bears win 6-3. The high-octane offense has returned!
Despite Andrew Gordon’s ace tying goal in third period, the Hershey Bears fell to the Texas Stars in a 4-3 stunner last night. The Bears now trail in the series 2-0 and must play the next three games in Stars country. Andrew shares his thoughts about the loss and provides an ice-level perspective on frustration, the team’s identity, and the key to victory.
The words ringing through my head tonight are the same ones Chris Bourque joked about with a wry smile right before we stepped on the ice tonight for warm-up: “How about you write a happy blog for tomorrow?”
Sorry, Chris; that’s not happening. When I signed up to write these entries after each game, I thought it would be fun to let everybody in on the dressing room celebrations and talk about the players who were playing great. Instead, I feel like I’m venting my own frustrations. This isn’t the way I intended my blog to be, but this isn’t the way I intended the series to be either.
If you’ve ever played a competitive sport at any high-level, you know the importance of momentum. It’s something that cannot be accurately measured by statistics, but its presence will never show up on any box-score. Watching game two of the Calder Cup Finals between the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars tonight, it was obvious who had momentum in the final ten minutes of the game: The Hershey Bears. Despite the Chocolate and White never leading during regulation, Andrew Gordon’s electrifying put-back off a Patrick Wellar shot from the right point rallied the troops and tied the game 3-3 with 9:16 to go. And after Stars’ Defenseman Matt Stephenson went off for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking towards the tail end of a Bears Powerplay, it seemed like fate was on the Bears side.
It was not to be. The Bears could not score during the ensuing 31 seconds of their 5 on 3 advantage and fretted away the first 1:16 of their 5 on 4. Then, after a whistle, Boyd Kane lost his temper during a scrum and speared a Texas player. The back linesman saw it, notified the head official, and Kane was sent off for four minutes, negating the rest of the Bears Powerplay. Hello, 4-on-4 hockey. Goodbye, momentum.
Friend of the blog Michael Jenkins, traveled up to Hershey Thursday Night to take in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals. There he met up with Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, General Manager George McPhee, Assistant Coach Bob Woods & Karl Alzner’s laugh out loud lumberjack-beard.What’s left is this incredibly insightful feature detailing how important an ingredient Hershey is in the Capitals’ success. Please check out the video above and let Jenks know what you think of his work in the comments below.
And remember Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals between the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars will start at 7pm tonight. Hershey will look to even the series in front of a sold out crowd at Giant Center. RMNB will be here with all your updates and photos from tonight’s game.
Andrew Gordon is the right winger on the Hershey Bears’ top line. His 71-point output this season (37 G, 34 A) has been crucial to the Bears’ epic offense and generated some serious NHL buzz. Along with Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux, Gordon participated in the most prolific line in the AHL this year. His hard-nosed, straight-to-the-net style reminds us of a player 13 years his senior: Mike Knuble. The 24-year-old, Halifax native recently missed four games to a lower body injury but has returned for the Calder Cup Finals. Andrew joins Russian Machine Never Breaks to reflect on last night’s game-one loss to the Texas Stars and beyond. Let’s hand it over to Gordo:
Hi, everybody! Before I get going, I would first like to take a quick second to thank all of you who are reading this. The fact that you are interested in what I have to say is flattering, and for that I thank you. This being my first blogging experience, I’ll ask that you to bear with me (no pun intended). I try not to read much of what’s written in the media, so I’m as surprised as anyone to see me joining forces with them! Anyway…here goes nothing! Thanks again!
The hockey gods must be playing a cruel trick on us. Why? Because for the first time in the postseason and the second time in 39 games this year, the Hershey Bears lost in front of their home fans at Giant Center. (And no, we weren’t there to curse them!)
Yet before you hit the panic button and start considering doomsday scenarios, we must acknowledge that this was the first time the Bears had played a game in 11 days. During that period, celebrities Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper died, May turned to June, BP ruined the entire Gulf of Mexico three times over, Team Russia was humbled in another International Tournament and Bret Michaels nearly died from a brain hemorrhage, recovered and then won Celebrity Apprentice. So rust obviously could have been a factor tonight. It’s hard to have your mojo going after that long of a layoff.
The first 30 minutes of tonight’s Calder Cup Finals exhibition played out much to that effect as both teams treated the first half of the game like a chess match. Both clubs tried desperately not make the game’s first, crucial mistake. However despite being outshot 12-2 after one period of play, the Bears were the ones to score the game’s first goal in the second period. The ever-darty and creative Mathieu Perreault found Francois Bouchard wide open in front of the Stars’ net and the Sherbrooke, Quebec native buried it past Texas Goaltender Matt Climie. Yet, Texas was unfazed. Tonight was the 11th straight game they had given up the game’s first goal and during that span they are 7-4.
5 minutes after Bouchard dented the twine, Stars’ center Greg Rallo responded by beating Michal Neuvirth glove side with a sick wrist shot from the top of the circles. Then in the third, Scott McCulloch backhanded home what turned out to be the eventual game winning goal on a semi-breakaway. As Bears’ Radio Announcer John Walton so eloquently put it, the Bears turned it on too little, too late tonight. Hershey falls 2-1. To the bullets!!
Tonight, the Texas Stars upset the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2 in Game 7 of the AHL’s Western Conference Finals. Yes, even after the Canadiens reassigned top prospects P.K. Subban and Ben Maxwell down to Hamilton for the deciding game, the Bulldogs still somehow managed to lose. After Hamilton took a 2-0 lead into the third period, Texas scored 4 unanswered goals and will now get the right to play the Hershey Bears in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals. RMNB has your schedule first and a gentle reminder to buy Game 1 or 2 tickets at Hershey NOW!
Game 1: Thursday, June 3 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, June 5 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: Monday, June 7 at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
Game 4: Wednesday, June 9, at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
*Game 5: Friday, June 11 at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
*Game 6: Monday, June 14 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
*Game 7: Wednesday, June 16 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals at GIANT Center are on sale now at the GIANT Center box office or by phone at (717) 534-3911. HERSHEY will look to become the first team since the 1991 Springfield Indians to win back-to-back Calder Cup titles.