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Steckel Is The Key For Cardiac Caps


With all of the incredible talent on both teams in this Caps/Pens series, perhaps the most important this far is the Washington Capitals David Steckel. Coming into this series, you’d have thought that Ovechkin and Crosby were playing one-on-one. Then of course, there were those two Russian guys, Semin and Malkin. That being said, the measuring stick for the Caps has been in the hand of #39.

Steckel’s main contribution is in the face-off circle. He has been spectacular on face-offs, winning 63.5% in this series. That’s 54 wins in 85 chances. Not too shabby.

David Steckel is also a key cog in Washington’s penalty killing unit. His size and long arms make him a real asset when down a man. He uses his reach to cover a lot of ice, poke checking, blocking passing lanes and shots, which is why his 4:02 of shorthanded ice time is third in the league for the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Those are both great contributions to the team, but in this series, its been his offense that has been the difference. Steckel has scrored three times and the Capitals are 3-0 in those games.

The 6’5″, 225-lb Winsconsonite started off the scoring for the Caps in this series, 13:10 into Game 1. The Capitals went on to beat the Pens 3-2.

In game 2, it really did seem like it was Ovie vs. Sid, with both players recording a hat trick. The Caps won 4-3. The difference: David Steckel, playing tough in front of the net gobbled up a Tyler Sloan shot that bounced off of Kris Letang right onto his stick, and slammed it through Marc-Andre Fleury’s five hole.

Then of course, came the game winner in game 6 to eevn the series and force a deciding game 7 on home ice for the Capitals. Steckel could have won game 5 in overtime, but fanned on the shot missing an open net. Then he took a penalty that led to the Penguins third goal in game 6. Being the big-game player he is, he begged his teammates to give him a shot and they did. He repayed them ten-fold.

The Caps had the face-off to the left of Marc-Andre Fleury in the offensive zone, and who better to work it than David Steckel, who was 10 of 14 in game 6 to that point. Stecks won the face-off to Brooks Laich and drove to the net. Laich, from his knees, passed the puck to Matt Bradley against the boards who passed it back to Laich for the one-timer. Steckel put his stick out and deflected the Laich’s shot in midair, past a butterflied Fleury for the game winner.

So yes, Simeon Varlamov will need to stand on his head again. Semin and Kozlov will need to play the same inspired hockey they played at Mellon Arena on Monday night. And, of course, Ovie will need to be Ovie, but the difference will be David Steckel.

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Varlamov Dazzling in Defeat


In a game with few bright spots for Washington Capitals fan, Simeon Varlamov continued to shine.

Varly faced 42 shots on the night – many of them quality chances – and turned away all but 3. The Caps were outplayed and outworked most of the night, but the outstanding young Russian kept the Caps in the game, allowing them to force overtime, and ultimately, put themselves in position to steal a win.

History was not on their side last night. The Capitals have pulled out to a 2-0 lead in a best of seven series five times in franchise history. All five times, the Caps have gone on to lose game 3, and in all but one, they have gone on to lose the series. Notably, the series they did win, they won in 5 games en route to the Stanley Cup finals.

As for last night’s game, the scoring got started early for the Caps. Mike Green dumped the puck into the Penguins zone to facilitate a line change. Alex Ovechkin drove in on the forecheck as Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury left the crease to corral the puck, dropping his stick in the process. Somehow, the puck bounced off the boards out in front of the net, directly in front of a charging Ovechkin. Ovie had the whole goal to shoot at, and didn’t miss on a diving shot, past a diving Fleury.

Initially, it seemed to stun the Penguins, and Washington’s offense began to press, culminating in a wrap-around attempt by Nicklas Backstrom that slid across the crease past a wide-open net. From that point forward, the Penguins dominated the game, with the formula used in the regular season by teams like the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets to beat the Caps: an ultra-aggressive forecheck and relentless physicality. If not for the Caps’ 21-year-old netminder, this game could easily have been a blow-out.

The entire second period looked as if the Capitals were on the penalty kill. The Pens seemed to have possession of the puck for 70% of the period. When the Caps did get possession, they were lucky to get it out of their own zone, let alone create quality chances.

On top of the offensive woes, the Caps couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. It seemed every time Evgeni Malkin touched the puck, the Caps were called for a penalty. The Penguins had six straight power plays, and again, Varlamov was there to save the day, stopping point blank shots, making diving saves and frustrating the fired up Pens at every turn. His magic ran out in the sixth, after Alexander Semin was called for hooking, as Evgeni Malkin, who dominated the Capitals all evening, finally found the back of the net.

The Capitals finally got their chance with the man advantage for the second time with just under two minutes to play in the third period, and boy did they take advantage. Caps sophomore Nicklas Backstrom made up for his earlier miss with a goal off the back of Fleury, and just like that, the Caps found themselves tied at 2, in a game that could easily have been 6-1 at that point.

The Caps came to life, and had several quality chances in the last two minutes of regulation, and in overtime, Ovechkin had two quality chances within seconds of each other, but fanned on one and lost the puck on the other.

Unfortunately for Simeon, at 11:23 of the first OT, he made a stop on a full-court pass that just missed a driving Malkin, and the ensuing face-off was his undoing. In a play eerily similar to the one Ovechkin scored his second goal of game 2, Sidney Crosby beat David Steckel on the face off for only the third time all evening. The puck trickled back to Mark Eaton, who sent a cross-ice pass to the waiting Kris Letang. Letang, who had fanned on two quality chances of his own in OT, nailed this one. The puck careened off of defenseman Shaonne Morrisson over the glove of Varlamov, off the cross bar and in to end game 3.

As mentioned before, the Capitals have had little success in series in which they hold a 2-0 lead, but as the history of this post-season has shown, the Caps are routinely re-writing their history. Hopefully the boys in red, white and blue will come back for game 4 a little more fired up and continue to distinguish themselves from previous Caps teams, en route to the finals. For now though, they need to focus on game 4.

There’s a pretty good chance that Bruce Boudreau is telling his team that at this very moment. That, and telling George McPhee to sign Varlamov for a long, long time.

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Caps Edge Penguins 4-3


Once again the Penguins out skated, and outshot the Capitals, and once again the Capitals won by a single goal.

The three stars may have been Ovechkin, Crosby and Varlamov, but it was David Steckel’s goal in the second period that turned out to be the difference maker in a game that has been billed as “Sid the Kid vs. Alex the Great.”

The Capitals looked like they were skating at half-speed throughout most of the game, while the Penguins skated hard, and swarmed the puck at every opportunity.

Truly the game was infuriating to watch. Whenever the Penguins got the puck, they raced up the ice without delay. Whenever the Caps got the puck, they passed it around for a bit in their own zone, and then began to meander up through center ice before dumping it into the attacking zone or having it taken away from them.

The Penguins looked like they had endless energy; the Caps looked like they had just come off a three-day bender and were trying to skate off their hangover, but in the end, it was the Caps who found the back of the net most often.

Crosby scored first on a cheap little tip-in during a 5-on-4 power-play in the first period. Ovechkin scored early in the second with a wicked one-timer from the left face-off dot to tie the game at one.

Crosby scored again in the second period by standing in Varlamov’s hip pocket and tipping the puck past the goalie from point-blank range. It may not have been interference, but he was close enough that Varly could have been wearing him like the skin suit from Silence of the Lambs (I giggle when I think about Buffalo Bill wearing a Sidney Crosby skin suit and saying the things he said in the movie [things I can't type here as this blog is rated PG]).

It was David Steckel who tied the game up in the second period when he slapped a rebound past Fleury from just below the right face-off circle.

A little more than halfway through the third with the game tied at 2; The Caps begin a power play at the right face-off dot and four seconds later, Ovechkin nails a one-timer from the top of the left face-off circle to beat Fleury once again and put the Caps up 3-2.

Two and a half minutes later, it began to rain hats at Verizon Center as Ovechkin nailed a slap-shot from between the face-off circles and got his first career playoff hat-trick. To find the last Capital to get a hat trick in the playoffs you’d have to go all the way back to 1993 and look at a guy named Al Iafrate (maybe you’ve heard of him). It took three and a half minutes to clean up all the hats, even as they continued to rain down amongst the chants of “MVP! MVP” The Caps were up 4-2 with a little more than 4 and a half minutes to play.

With roughly two minutes to go, the Penguins pulled Fleury for the extra attacker and the refs made it interesting when they called a cheap cross checking penalty on Milan Jurcina.

With 30-seconds left to play, and the Penguins now skating 6-on-4, Crosby had a rebound bounce onto his stick to the right of Varlamov and he slapped it into a surprised Tom Poti from point-blank range. The puck bounced right back to Crosby who again slapped it into a still stunned Poti. The puck again bounced back to Crosby who lifted this time and had the puck rainbow over Poti and Varlimov and just clear the top left corner of the net.

One lonely hat drifted down from the stands to celebrate Crosby’s third goal of the game. Of course, it could have been an accident and the hat got pulled off some poor fan’s head by how much Crosby sucks but either way It would be too little, too late.

Crosby may have gotten the second star of the game honors, and Ovechkin is credited with the game winner, but in the end it was the dynamic play of Simeon Varlamov and the under-rated goal by David Steckel that gave the Caps the edge and allowed them to win 4-3.

The real test comes Wednesday as the Caps travel to Pittsburgh with a two game advantage in the series. Expect Pittsburgh to play their hardest, and expect that the Igloo will be filled with ballpoint fans screaming “let’s go Pens!”

No one is going to pick the Caps to win game three. Commentators will briefly touch on Ovechkin’s hat-trick as a lead into talking about how great Crosby is, and how the Caps can’t stop him. They will talk about how Varlamov is starting to look a little shaky as he has given up five goals in the last two games (four of which were scored by Crosby) after only giving up six in the entire first round.

You better believe that they will consider game two a moral victory as the Pens finally got their power play going, and that coming home will be just the confidence booster Malkin and Staal need to make their presence felt.

The Caps are not being taken seriously…but they are winning games. The Penguins can outshoot, and outskate the Caps all they like, but in the end, the only stat that matters is the score.

Go Caps!

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Clark: “It Feels Like a Rock Concert Out There.”


Washington Capitals fans weren’t just Rocking the Red, they were rocking the Verizon Center. During a TV timeout with 5:56 left to play in the third period, the Caps gameday staff played “Unleash the Fury,” a video that got the already roucous crowd whipped up into a frenzy.

At that point, the decibal level in the Verizon Center was deafening. In the arena, you could feel that something was going to happen for the Caps. When Sergei Federov, certainly no stranger to the playoff hero role, scored the game winning goal (and first of the series), the decibal level soared even higher, and remained there until well after the final horn blew.

Feds believed the energy from the crowd helped will the team to victory: “It was a great atmosphere all around. I’m sure any player who plays in an atmosphere like that would enjoy it and work hard and play hard… It really was an amazing experience.”

Bruce Boudreau agreed.

“The last five minutes after we scored,they never sat down, they never stopped cheering. If you look at the energy we had just in checking. The people brought that out. They wouldn’t let us not continue skating,”  Boudreau said, adding, ” it was really a thing to watch.”

Of course, going into the third period, it was an experience few thought would come to pass. For the first two periods, the Capitals were out-played and out-hustled. If not for the continued dominating play by the barely 21-year-old Simeon Varlamov, this game could easily have been 3-0  after five and a half minutes. 

In the first period, the normally gifted Washington offense had only managed two shots on the Rangers Henrik Lunqvuist. Luckily, one of them went in after deflecting off two Rangers defenders.

The second period was more of the same. It almost felt like the Caps were on penalty kill the entire period. Washington managed nine more shots on goal, but Lunqvuist looked to be back in form for this pivotal game 7.  The most telling stat of the second period was time of possession. While this isn’t an officially kept statistic, Mike Green mentioned in the locker room after the game that he felt like the Caps only had the puck for 2 of the 20 minutes in the period.

After the second period ended, there was a weird vibe in the air. Some thought that this series was set to end like last year’s opening round defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Still others thought that the Caps were lucky to be tied at 1, and that the third period was the Caps period, so anything could and would happen. Most though, believed the Capitals would prevail.

Whatever the vibe in the building, the vibe in the locker room was much like the last. In his post-game presser, Coach Bruce Boudreau, when asked what was said between the dreadful second period and the fateful third, quipped:  “One of the messages was ’20 more minutes.’ How hard is that to work as hard as you can for one of the best feelings you’re ever going to have.”

Besides the motivation, the Coaching staff went to work, as well, trying to solve the dominating play the Rangers brought to the rink.

“We were used to them being a more passive team and they were very aggressive, in your face,” the Caps head coach stated. “We had to change what we were doing and I’m not that sharp. I took me two periods to figure it out.”

Whatever was said or done, it paid off. The Caps came out in the third playing like themselves. The passing was crisp, the effort was phenomenal and the results were there. Everyone in the building began to feel like a Russian was going to send the Rangers packing. Of course, everyone assumed that Russian would be Ovechkin or Semin.

Enter Sergei Federov. As Feds skated down the right side, pulling up to look for the trailer on the play for a pass, he noticed several things. First, Wayne Redden was playing way off, quite possibly because the ever-threatening Ovechkin was on the left side of the net. Second, there was no trailer on the play. Third, the top-shelf glove side of Lunqvuist, perhaps the outstanding goalies only weakness, was beakoning him. He let the shot go, kept a longer follow-through to get the shot up, and watched as the puck soared into the net for the eventual game winner with just under five minutes to go in the third.

Fellow teammate and countryman Alex Ovechkin was the first on the scene leaping onto the 39-year-old’s back, squeezing him hard and slamming him into the boards.  Since Federov was the Red Wing that ended the Caps Stanley Cup hopes oh so many moons ago, perhaps this game seven winner will reverse the fortunes of this young, exciting team in their current pursuit.  

Regardless of kharma and the existential side of the meaning of this goal, Federov has brought something the Capitals haven’t experienced since that 1998 run to the Cup finals and never since the best owner in Washington sports bought this team: a playoff series win.

While many thought Ovie would play the role of hero, Boudreau was not as surprised. “Experience sometimes pays off. He knew what he had to do and… when to do it,” the Capitals coach said. “That’s what makes him one of the greatest players ever.”

Washington Capitals fans everywhere sure think so.

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Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly, Game 4


The Hershey Bears completed their sweep of the Philadelphia Phantoms in the Eastern Division Semifinals on Friday night at Giant Center, beating their rivals, 1-0.

Though there were no goals scored in the first 20 minutes of action, the Bears thoroughly dominated the Phantoms in the shot category, as well as territorially, with a shot differential of 11-4, and only the outstanding goaltending of Philly’s Jean-Sebastien Aubin kept the home team off the board.

“You have to give Hershey credit,” said Aubin. “They played a lot different than the last few games we played them in the regular season.”

Early in the second period, Graham Mink, who was denied by Aubin on more than one occasion in the first period, tallied on the Bears’ 6th power play of the contest, giving the Bears what would eventually prove to be the only strike of the evening.

“You just try to get chances, and you never know which one is going to go in,” Mink said of his continued efforts. “Giroux made a great play coming around behind the net and I hit it hard, and it went in the net.”

Only 38 seconds after Mink’s goal, while Hershey was on yet another power play, Phantoms’ Jonathan Matsumoto was awarded a penalty shot after his shorthanded breakaway attempt was illegally interrupted by Chris Bourque. Matsumoto, who, in the regular season, had previously scored a penalty shot goal against Bears’ netminder, Simeon Varlamov, had this bid negated by goaltender, Michal Neuvirth.

Hershey’s penalty kill, outstanding and literally perfect throughout this series, proved to be an essential ingredient in their recipe for success in this series, stopping all 22 attempts, including a pair of 2-man disadvantages in the series-clinching victory.

“Everyone on the PK has realized that special teams is going to win your series,” said Beagle. “It’s a lot more important in the playoffs, and we found a way to get the job done. It was like scoring a big goal. The crowd was roaring and they got the team fired up; all the boys on the bench were yelling, and there was an incredible electricity.”

Hershey coach, Bob Woods, who has sipped champagne from the Calder Cup, both as a player and as an assistant coach, smiled while reflecting on his team’s hard fought victory.

“I told the guys after the game that that’s just a taste; as we keep going here, there’s going to be more fans in here and it’s only going to get better.”

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A Quick Note To Simeon Varlamov


Dear Varly,

Feel free to remove the Hershey Bears logo from half of your goalie mask.

For a 20-year-old rookie to have a .5 goals against average after his first two Stanly Cup play-off starts is phenomenal. I can’t imagine any circumstance under which you should ever leave the big league team again.

Your size, athleticism and power in front of the net — and the roucous New York crowd — really made itself known last night at MSG, and to play the way you in did in that spot and in that environment is a testament to what you bring to the table as a top-flight netminder in the NHL.

The crazy thing is that you will get better as you gain more experience. Your perceived over-aggressive style of play that you make up for now with speed and strength will likely get more controlled as you make your way through your career, but this season, with a spotlight on this post-season, has shown that you are ready to begin that journey.

I am a big Brent Johnson fan. I like that he came here as a starter and assumed the role of back-up behind Olie even though his numbers were comparable, and fit right in. I will always be grateful for the way he played when called upon, and the leadership he provided in the locker room, but I fear Varly’s coming out party may just mark the end of your time in the Nation’s Capital, unless you sign with Ottawa.

Sure Simeon, your production over the next few games might drop off and the Caps may lose this series, but I think you have shown you are ready for a shot, and if I ran the team, this would mark the beginning of the time when the Washington Capitals are your team.

Good luck on Wednesday, keep up the good work. Oh, and if you accidentily knock Sean Avery on his tail a few times, we won’t be mad.  I’ll give you a quick English lesson. Sean Avery = иДиот.

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We’ve Got A Series


It took a scintillating performance from a goaltender who isn’t even old enough to drink and a pair of goals from the second best Alex on the team, but the Washington Capitals finally found a way to beat the New York Rangers.

Simeon Varlamov, who was making just his seventh career start and second of the playoffs, couldn’t have been sharper in his inaugural road playoff appearance. The young Russian spent the early part of the first-period turning away shots while the fans at Madison Square Garden showered him with taunting chants. Read the rest of this entry »

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Capitals Drop Game 2 Despite Varlamov’s Fantastic Start


In what was expected to be another aggressive, offensive affair, Game 2 turned into a tale of two goalies.

On one side, there’s the young, four-year veteran who is regarded as one of the best young goalies in the NHL. On the other side is a raw but talented 20-year old prospect that is in line to be the future goaltender of his team who is making his first career playoff start.

Rookie Simeon Varlamov replaced Jose Theodore, who allowed four goals in Wednesday’s one-goal loss. The bold move was announced to the team Saturday morning.

Varlamov allowed only one goal in his impressive debut but for the time being it is overshadowed by the Game 2 loss and the two-game hole the team has dug itself into.

The deciding goal came with 12:16 to play in the first period. Varlamov failed to stop the puck from flying over his left shoulder once Rangers right winger Ryan Callahan fired the shot. He finished the game with 23 saves.

“He was phenomenal tonight. He did everything he could. There was nothing he could have done on the goal. It was a backdoor one-timer right under the bar,” defenseman Brian Pothier said. “He was solid. I don’t think he made any mistakes tonight.”

The Capitals tried everything they could to get a shot past the Ranger’s Henrik Lundqvist but were incapable of taking him out of his game. Washington continuously attacked the net, outshooting New York 35-24 but was unable to get anything to go through.

“It was just a matter of us finding a way to score a goal. We had a ton of chances. They blocked a ton of shots. We need to figure out some kind of recipe to get some goals,” Pothier said.

The lack of points was not the result of a lack of effort on the Capitals’ part. They have outshot the Rangers 70-46 in the series so far. That statistic and the fact that they are down 0-2 should say more about the performance of Lundqvist than it does about Washington’s offense.

“We played a great game, I thought. We made a mistake and they capitalized on it. We couldn’t penetrate their defense they had. They did a great job of blocking shots and Lundqvist is obviously an exceptional goalie so we need to figure out a way to get pucks through,” Pothier said.

The Capitals started the game fast and attacked the net as they tend to do but towards the end, passing miscues continued to hinder scoring chances.

Another factor in the two losses was the team’s failure to alter their regular season style of play to accommodate their postseason matchups, Mike Green said.

“I think we’re just so used to playing a certain way and now with playoff hockey the game changes a bit and we have to adjust. If you’re going to win you have to adjust.”

Washington, who boasts the NHL’s third best road record, will have to continue their playoff quest in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Monday. In order to be successful, they must find a way to solve the predicament Lundqvist puts them in on a game-by-game basis.

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Pens Stuff Bears’ Attack


The menacing Bears, flying high on a five-game winning streak, were grounded by the Wilkes-Barre Penguins, who handed the home team their 3rd shutout of the season, and their first whitewashing at home since December 18, 2005, in a game that was also against the Baby Pens.

In the opening stanza, the Bears, despite registering 11 shots on goal, never seriously tested WBS goaltender, John Curry. However, their penalty-killing unit, still ranked last in the league, faced a substantial test in the WBS power play, recently bolstered by the addition of longtime NHL player, Miroslav Satan.

After the Bears dodged a bullet on their first venture on the penalty kill, the Penguins struck pay dirt on the second, with Dustin Jeffrey netting the goal at 19:12. Jeffrey, after receiving a Chris Minard pass from behind the net, outraced Hershey’s Chris Bourque to the slot, then quickly shuffled the biscuit behind Hershey netminder, Simeon Varlamov. Varlamov, the hard-luck loser, stopped 36 of 37 shots in the contest.

Even with the benefit of being afforded all three second period power plays, the Bears were still unable to shake the slumber from their lumber in the second period, getting only six shots on goal in the stanza.

The Penguins had the best scoring chance of the period when Jeff Taffe narrowly missed giving the visitors a 2-0 lead at 4:30 of the second period, sliding a Minard pass just past the left post moments after Hershey squandered a 3-on-1 charge into the WBS zone.

Late in the period a pair of unlikely combatants dropped the gloves in anger when Hershey’s Andrew Gordon and WBS’ Minard fought. Gordon, engaging in the first fight of his professional career, fared well in his first professional bout, winning a narrow decision on this judge’s scorecard. When asked to critique his fight after the game, Gordon, who was addressed by his passing teammates as “Killer” and “Gordon the Butcher”, seemed to have enjoyed the experience.

“I’d say it was two guys who probably don’t go too often,” Gordon joked. “He (Minard) was joking about it afterwards, saying, ‘If I knew you could fight, I wouldn’t have asked you’. I didn’t know I could, either, so it was a mystery to both of us,” Gordon laughed.

The Bears picked up the pace in the third period, registering 14 shots on goal and accruing another three power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 1:15, yet were unable to crack Curry, who earned his 4th shutout of the season.

Gordon, who registered three shots on net, was not surprised by the low scoring affair:

“Their defensemen are so big, and it’s tough to penetrate on them. They have good reaches, and they play simple and stick to their system,” said Gordon. “So, it’s usually a tough game when we play them. The majority of the games we’ve played against them have been one-goal games and shootouts. It’s always a tight chess match with these guys.”

After the defeat, Hershey head coach, Bob Woods, who took the loss in stride, seemed satisfied that his team gave their best effort.

“I think we know we can play with those guys. It’s a pretty good team over there. You look at the depth they have; those first three lines are as good as anybody’s.”

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Bears Bite Tigers


Theoretically, it was the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who were idle last night in Hershey awaiting tonight’s game, that should have came out in the opening period on the attack; however, it was the Hershey Bears who dominated their own den, reeling off three unanswered first period goals on their way to a convincing 7-2 win at Giant Center.

In the high scoring contest, with five different Bears lighting the lamp, Alexandre Giroux’s record-tying and record-breaking goals outshone them all.  In just 62 games, Giroux became the first player in the 71 years of Hershey Bears hockey to score more than 53 goals in a single season.  The previous record was set during the 1982-83 season by Tony Cassolato in 75 games.

“It was amazing,” said Giroux of his accomplishment. “To be honest, I was hoping to get it tonight or as soon as possible. I was very emotional to be able to get it done; I was pretty proud it.”

Keith Aucoin, returning to Chocolatetown after suiting up for the Washington Capitals last night, started the Bears’ first period barrage, beating Bridgeport goaltender, Nathan Lawson, at 7:24, after one-timing a pass from Tyler Sloan, with the teams skating at four a side.

“I wanted him (Sloan) to give me the puck in the neutral zone, but he kept it. I didn’t expect him to make that pass, be he got it through. I shot it as quick as I could and it went in,” said Aucoin.

Aucoin was at his play-making best just a minute after his goal, finding Chris Bourque at Lawson’s doorstep for an easy tap-in goal, with Hershey enjoying a 4-on-3 power play.

“He (Bourque) always jokes that I don’t pass it to him enough,” said Aucoin, while taking some good-natured ribbing from Bourque, who joked that the AHL’s leading scorer collected three phantom assists during the match.  “I’m glad he was able to handle it.”

Aucoin finished his three-point period by beating Lawson for his 25th goal of the season at 18:20, after going circle-to-circle with some assistance from teammate, Graham Mink.

“I was looking for Giroux first and I couldn’t get it to him because the one defenseman took him. Then other guy tried to block my shot and I was able to get around him. I saw a little leeway over his glove and I was able to find it,” said Aucoin.

At 3:58 of the second period, Mink tallied his career-high 32nd goal of the season, putting his team on top, 4-0, after a beautiful pass from Sami Lepisto, with the Bears’ goaltender, Simeon Varlamov, picking up the secondary assist.

Bridgeport’s Trevor Smith and Andrew MacDonald sandwiched power play goals around Giroux’s historical goals, making it a 6-2 game after two periods.

With Peter Mannino replacing Lawson in goal to start the third period, Andrew Gordon needed less than a minute into the third period to score his 21st goal of the season, which would be the final goal of the contest.

Giroux and Aucoin, who obviously have chemistry on the ice, complimented each other’s amazing abilities after the record-breaking evening.

“As far as getting me the puck he’s pretty amazing,” said Giroux of Aucoin. “I think we complete each other pretty well. I try to find the open spot on the ice so that he can see me, and we can get it done. Without him, I don’t think I could have gotten it done.”

“He not only scores from anywhere, but he’s also one of the more skilled guys in the league, and can create his own chances,” said Aucoin about linemate, Giroux. “I’ve played with some pretty good players, but he’s by far the top goal scorer that I’ve ever played with.”

Notes:

Hershey has now won five straight games.

Bears meet the WBS Penguins tomorrow at home to finish off the weekend.

Mink, who fought Michael Haley late in the 2nd period, did not return for the 3rd period.

Hershey marked their 101st point this evening, the 3rd time they have done so in their four-year affiliation with the Washington Capitals organization.

 

 

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