Fighting Hershey boys, I love you. Please come back?
This was a sad, sad Bears loss 4-1 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, made even worse by the fact that they had just shut out the Albany River Rats yesterday night. I had almost decided not to go after work, and barring the BRIGHTEST MOMENT OF THE NIGHT (more later) I almost shouldn't have. (okay, I kid.... sort of)
The boys started off looking really great, They were pretty obviously flying damn high after the Albany win, and even in warmups they were cycling well and working as a team. I was sort of amazed that they were starting Cassivi in, bcause sure, he's the big dude, but if Machesney was gonna be on a roll like he was last night, man, let him keep it up. (they ultimately did, putting him in in the third) Robitaille was a scratch (although he did warm up and then show up in the wife/girlfriend box later on in the game)
Machesney heading in, and Robitaille, as "Leaning Man in Center of Frame" up in the wife/girlfriend box
The beginning of the first period was the best hockey of the whole night. The Bears were out there being scrappy and fighting for everything, Laing was putting some good pressure on, and Gordon and Beagle were out there tearing it up around the edges. Borque was doing some good work at the blueline, and halfway through the first we had something like 21 shots on goal while Bridgeport had none. But it wasn't until a flukey breakaway closer to Bridgeport's side of the neutral zone that things got ripping. Beagle managed to pick the puck up and put that NotCrosby speed to use, carrying it the rest of the way and getting a nice shot off to score the first (and as it turned out only) Bears goal of the night and his first for the season. I would have gotten picures of the celebration, as our Beagle's face went from "Not really?" to "OMG!" to "Christmas Morning" in about 20 seconds, but I was too busy screaming my damn fool head off. Sorry. Trust me though, it was awesome.
Beagle, workin' the magic
However, in lining up afterwards, a group of fans down behind the Bridgeport goal brought it to the attention of the officials that not only was there a big hole in the glass behind the goal, a big chunk of it had hit an old man sitting directly behind it. In addition, the big hole in the glass had been caused by one of Bridgeport's players having a temper tantrum and slamming his stick into the glass after the Bears score.
That thur's a hole in the glass. Yup
I firmly believe that after the 10 or 15 minute break to get the old guy out and the new glass in, the Bears had lost their steam. They were all hyped and ready, and then it just sort of fizzled from there. Most of the rest of the game was full of lost or almost lost chases for the puck and easy turnovers. Without Robitaille, there was less agitating, but Clymer was in there pissing everyone off on the faceoffs, and I believe it was Sloan in the third who got pissed off and butt-ended a Sound Tigger in the face mask, making him cry. Granted, it was rather Brierian, but if it makes him feel better and he's not a repeat offender, the Tigger is okay, and Sloan's still on the team.. . I suppose I can give that a golf clap if not my full support. Laing got into a nice dustup right at the end as well, and there was some serious trash talking going on over the refs as they tried to break it up. Clymer was also throwing the body around when he could, but for whatever reason they'd stuck him on defense for a lot of the third period, and you could tell he was getting frustrated with it.
A Very Brierian Hit leaves a Crying Tigger
As far as agitation goes, the fans in the section i was sitting in (121, row L seat 12.... again... i wants it permanently, I does..) were really REALLY heckling Drew Fata and Kip Brennan. One guy kept yelling "Come on Brennan! Jump the glass and come get me!" Ex-Bear Brennan seemed to be enjoying the attention and kept egging the guy on, so that made for an amusing night if nothing else.
Brennan enjoying himself
Overall, and in my completely worthless opinion, the Bears need to quit trying to dipsy doodle the puck around to get the ultimate a1 primo shot off, and just start motherloving shooting. Granted, we had 43 shots to their 18, but how many of those were fancy-pants round the corner ones?
The boys also need to work on accuracy of their shots. If they want a rebound, they have to shoot low. If they want a goal, they have to shoot high corner. Both of the virtual brick-wall goalies they've run into (Albany being the other) they've been hitting right in the chest. If I'm not mistaken, the Beagle shot went in RIGHT over the glove hand tonight.
I also think that they're struggling for a leader-for someone who will come out and be like "THIS is how we play Bears hockey." I think Laing's doing his best to keep all of 'em together, especially when he goes out and drops the gloves, and Clymer's trying to teach in the experience, but something's not gelling them yet as a team. I do think part of it may be everyone's relative n00bness, but I think a lot of it may be the lack of a cohesive element. I don't want to pin everything on him, but I have my hopes that when Deano gets back, he'll be able to solidify all the guys into one fighting unit. Of course, that's till two months away, so there's a lot of potential playoff ground to cover in that time.
But dayum, Jay Beagle. You made my night.