Bowey, Vanecek and Bourque bring Bears closer to conference finals

 

By Eric Lord

Game four of the Atlantic Division Finals was not a particularly good one for the Hershey Bears. They lost 2-1 to the Providence Bruins to even the Calder Cup playoff series at two games apiece. The team only mustered 11 shots on a goal and lost starting goalie Pheonix Copley to a lower-body injury. So, what did the Bears do on their off day? They headed to the home of hall-of-fame defenseman Raymond Bourque (father of Chris and Ryan) for a little Mother’s Day barbeque. Well, the barbeque worked. Chris Bourque had a goal and an assist, Vitek Vanecek played strong in goal and Madison Bowey scored 1:58 into overtime to give Hershey 3-2 victory. Now, the Bears are one win away from their second consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

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Vanecek was called on early to make a big stop. The rookie goaltender did just that. Providence forward Colby Cave came in on a breakaway. Vanecek got his blocker on Cave’s shot to keep the game scoreless.

 

After killing off a penalty, Hershey struck first. Defenseman Tyler Lewington wristed a shot towards the Providence net. Bourque deflected the shot on its way. The tip went over Bruins’ goalie Zane McIntyre’s blocker and the Bears had a 1-0 lead. Bourque’s goal was the first goal that McIntyre has allowed in the first period in these playoffs.

 

Hershey led 1-0 after one period, but Providence equalized early in the second period. Tommy Cross backhanded a floater from the inside edge of the right circle. With traffic in front, the shot beat Vanecek over his blocker to tie the game at one at the 3:59 mark of the middle frame.

 

The Bruins nearly went ahead on a Hershey power play shortly after tying the game. Jake DeBrusk, who scored a shorthanded goal in game one, had a point-blank chance. Vanecek stood tall and made the save to keep the game tied.

 

The Bears did not score on the power play, but would jump back ahead one minute and 44 seconds after the power play expired. Stanislav Galiev slid a pass back to Paul Carey, who fired a hard wrist shot from the inside top of the right circle that beat McIntyre. Carey’s goal gave Hershey a 2-1 that they would take into the third period.

 

Providence came out strong in the third period and evened the score at the 9:18 point of the final frame. Noel Acciari slid a pass towards the front of the net. Debrusk tipped Acciari’s pass to a Austin Czarnik, who was wide-open to the left of the goal. Czarnik put home his chance and the game was tied at two.

 

After tying the game, the Bruins controlled most of the third period and had the Bears on their heels. However, Vanecek and company kept Providence off the board. For the third time in the series, the game went to overtime.

Overtime did not last long. Hubert Labrie dug the puck out of a scrum on the left boards and dropped the puck to Bourque, who covered for Labrie at the point. Bourque sent the puck across to Bowey. The defenseman took two strides in and wristed a shot past McIntyre, who was screened by Travis Boyd. The goal gave the Bears a 3-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.

 

Bourque made history with his assist on Bowey’s goal. He became the all-time assist leader in Calder Cup Playoff history. The assist was his 81st and it moved him past Darren Haydar.

 

The heroics of Bowey and the history made by Bourque should not overshadow the play of Vanecek. The rookie was starting his first ever Calder Cup playoffs game and was filling in for the player who has been Hershey’s most valuable player thus far in these playoffs (Copley). Vanecek was unrattled. He stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced and came up with the save when his team needed it.

 

With Copley’s status unknown for game six, Vanecek may have to step in once again. Judging by game five, the Bears are in good hands.

 

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WM / Freie Platzwahl

von Frank Göbel

Eishockey-WM im eigenen Land. Das ist DER Jackpot für viele Sympathisanten dieses tollen Sport. Und so habe ich mich auf den Weg nach Köln gemacht um mir dieses Spektakel selber aus der Nähe anzuschauen.

Mein Sidekick ist ähnlich gepolt wie ich und wir fieberten diesem Tag schon entgegen. Drei Spiele wollten wir uns antun. Italien vs Russland, Dänemark vs USA und Slowakei gegen Lettland.

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Die Tageskarte hat uns knapp 130€ pro Nase gekostet. Für drei Spiele bei einer Weltmeisterschaft, sah uns das fair aus.

Gegen 11:30 sind wir dann in Köln am Hauptbahnhof angekommen. Im Herzen des Bahnhofes ist sogar eine Art Fanmeile aufgebaut. Oder sagen wir mal Fanmeilchen. Hier konnte man sich über die aktuellen Spiele erkundigen und Live die Spiele via Beamer verfolgen. Vor dem Bahnhof wurde noch ein gigantischer Puck aufgestellt wo auch schon die ersten Russen fleißig Selfies machten.

Auf nach Köln-Deutz! Auf dem Weg dorthin kamen einem dann auch die ersten Fans entgegen und so langsam kam WM-Feeling auf. Vor der Halle war dann einiges los. Der Hauptsponsor, der sich hauptsächlich mit Fertigung von Automobilen beschäftigt, hat es hier groß aufgezogen. Ein Fan-Haus mit Entertainer der erpicht war alle bei Laune zu halten. Air-Hockey und selber mit dem Schläger auf Matten zocken waren nur einige Möglichkeiten den Alkohol aus dem Körper zu vertreiben.

Da wir etwas knapp dran waren, hoben wir uns diese Spiele für später auf. Rein in die Halle. Mit knapp über 10.000 Zuschauern war die Halle auch ganz gut gefüllt. Zu 90% waren hier Russen. Mit einigen habe ich mich unterhalten und viele kamen extra aus Russland für dieses Spiel! Das bringt für mich diese Faszination der Russen für diesen Sport auf ein ganz anderes Level. Eishockey in Russland, das ist Familienangelegenheit. Da fliegt man schon mal von St. Petersburg ein. LA FAMILIA!

Stark.

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Das Spiel an sich war einseitig (um es diplomatisch auszudrücken). Völlig überforderte Italiener verlieren 1-10 gegen eiskalte Russen. Mit diesem Fansupport wäre alles andere auch eine Enttäuschung gewesen.

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Nach dem zweiten Drittel hatten wir die Schnapsidee uns in den Unterrang zu setzen. Gemacht, getan. Kartenkontrolle? Fehlanzeige. Es standen zwar ein paar Ordner mit Halsbändchen an der Tür, aber die haben sich herzlich wenig dafür interessiert wer reinkommt. Diese Idee hatten in der Folge auch andere Fans und haben sich in den Unterrang gesetzt. Im Nachhinein haben wir uns geärgert nicht billigere Tickets geholt zu haben und uns dann unten hinzusetzen. Naja, es war unsere erste WM.

Das zweite Spiel war dann mein persönliches Highlight. Dänemark vs USA. Ich, ausgestattet mit einem USA-Jersey (#19 Dubinsky), konnte mir das Warm-Up auf Ice Level anschauen. NHL-Spieler ganz nah. Spieler die man aus der Nacht im Gamecenter der NHL sieht jetzt hier auf dem Eis. Das war toll.

Die Amis hatten dann aber auch nur wenig Mühe und setzten sich 7-2 durch. Die Halle an sich war jetzt nicht mehr ganz so voll. Laut Aussage des Hallensprechers waren es knapp über 8000 Zuschauer. Wollen wir das mal so glauben.

Nach dem Sieg und der Nationalhymne haben wir uns das Fanzelt angeschaut. Wir zockten auf der Kunsteismatte. Da mein Buddy und ich gerne zocken und uns den Puck mit One-Touch hin und her schlugen wurde uns freundlich mitgeteilt das wir auch mal andere ran lassen sollten. Jaja, wenn man einmal im Flow ist. Aber gut, wir sind dann zum Torwandschießen gegangen. Es waren noch einige Russen da und ich als Ami wollte es dann auch mal versuchen. Von 5 Scheiben habe ich dann 4 versenkt.

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„DUBINSKY!!!“ grölten die Russen hinter mir. Ist das nicht toll? Egal wo du herkommst, für wen du bist, es war alles ein großes Miteinander. Das zeichnet Eishockey weltweit aus.

Um 20:15 stand dann noch Lettland vs Slowakei an. Ein Ostblock-Klassiker. Und die Halle war wieder voll und laut! Etwas überraschend setzten sich hier die Letten mit 3-1 durch.

Nach dem Spiel wollte mein Kumpel noch den Fanshop besuchen, aber zu unserer Enttäuschung wurde der nach der zweiten Pause dieses Spiels schon geschlossen. Schade, da wäre bestimmt noch was Umsatz drin gewesen.

Beim standesgemäßen Besuch anschließend im goldenen „M“ trafen wir noch auf eine kleine Truppe die (Obacht) aus Holland kam. Einer von Ihnen hat sogar eine Dauerkarte für die DEG. Jedes Wochenende fährt dieser Mensch von Venlo nach Düsseldorf. Für Eishockey. #highfiveworthy

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Als wir dann gegen 2 Uhr bei meinem Kumpel ankamen, waren wir einfach nur noch platt. Es war ein langer Tag mit vielen Eindrücken.

Eishockey-WM im eigenen Land. Geil!

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Home woes continue for Hershey in game 1 loss to Providence

By Eric Lord

Playing at home in the Giant Center has been anything but an advantage the Hershey Bears thus far in the Calder Cup Playoffs. After dropping both home games in the opening round, Hershey found another way to lose at home on Saturday night. This time, a sloppy first period did the Bears in. The Providence Bruins took advantage and defeated Hershey 3-1 in game one of the Atlantic Division Finals.

 

After a decent start, things started to unravel around the halfway mark of the first period. A flubbed pass was picked off by Providence’s Chris Porter, who hit teammate Austin Czarnik in stride with a pass. Czarnik came in on a breakaway and beat Hershey goalie Pheonix Copley with a shot just under the crossbar to give the Bruins an 1-0 lead at the 10:06 point of the opening frame.

 

The Bears earned a power play a few minutes later when Providence captain Tommy Cross was whistled for high-sticking. It was an opportunity for Hershey to tie the game. However, the power play turned out to be a disaster and it cost the Bears the game. Hershey defenseman Tom Gilbert had the puck behind his own net. His pass was intercepted by Colby Cave and Cave tallied shorthanded to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

 

Cave’s shorthanded goal was bad enough for the Bears, but the power play coughed up another one 56 seconds later. Providence’s Jake Debrusk skated in on a shorthanded breakaway and netted the Bruins’ second goal on the Hershey power play. The two shorthanded goals gave Providence a 3-0 lead.

 

Debrusk’s goal was the third score for the Bruins in a span of 4:25. The Bears had three major breakdowns and Providence made Hershey pay on every single one of them.

 

The 3-0 lead was more than enough for the Bruins. Despite outshooting the Providence 25 to 22, the Bears did not force Bruins’ goalie Zane McIntyre into making many tough saves.

 

Hershey managed to break up McIntyre’s shutout late in the third period. Christian Djoos fed a cross-ice pass from the left side. The pass found a wide-open Nathan Walker on the back door and Walker beat McIntyre with a low wrist shot. The goal cut the Providence lead to 3-1 with 2:26 remaining in the game, but the Bears would get no closer.

 

Providence’s triumph Saturday night makes Hershey 0-3 at home in these Calder Cup playoffs with game two scheduled for Sunday evening. The Bears need to figure out how to win at home and soon. A game two in at the Giant Center would be highly beneficial if Hershey wants to advance out of this round. While their road play has been excellent in these playoffs, the Bears would be facing an uphill battle trying to win two or three in Providence against a goalie the quality of McIntyre. Sunday evening is the right time for Hershey to win at home. Maybe they should just pretend it is a road game.

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TV Augsburg – HC Köln-West Rheinos

29.04.2017

Tabellenerster gegen Tabellenletzter….in manchen Sportarten gehören solche Spiele nicht zu den Top-Spielen…nicht so in der ersten Bundesliga des Skaterhockeys, wie sich heute bestätigte.

TV Augsburg (Platz 12) gegen HC Köln-West Rheinos (Platz 1), Tatort Augsburg.

Das erste Drittel begann vielversprechend für die Augsburger Fans. Die Mannschaft nahm beherzt den Kampf gegen den Tabellenführer auf und feuerte aus allen Löchern. Bereits nach fünf Minuten gelang Dotterweich das 1:0, nur zwei Minuten später folgte das 2:0 durch Luther und wenige Sekunden darauf das 3:0 wieder durch Dotterweich. Daraufhin nahm Köln bereits seine erste Auszeit, kassierte aber dennoch gleich in der 8. Spielminute das 4:0 durch Gläsel und wechselte anschließend den Torhüter. Nach elf Spielminuten gab es die erste (aber bei weitem nicht die letzte) Strafzeit des Spiels. Nach nur ein paar Sekunden Überzahlspiel konnte der TV Augsburg durch Arzt auf 5:0 erhöhen. In der 15. Spielminute gab es erneut eine Strafe gegen die Kölner und wieder konnte Arzt in Überzahl zum 6:0 (17. Spielminute) aufstocken. Eine Minute vor Ende des ersten Drittels bekam dann Köln das erste Überzahlspiel zugesprochen. Die Augsburger verteidigten allesamt wacker, besonders der 15-jährige Torhüter Matheis konnte mehrfach überzeugen, 33 Sekunden vor Ende des ersten Drittels musste er aber trotz überragender Leistung dann doch einmal hinter sich greifen. Köln nutzte im letzten Moment seine Überzahl durch Esser und machte damit den ersten Schritt in Richtung Aufholjagd.

Insgesamt war das erste Drittel des TVA ein Augenschmaus für jeden Hockey-Fan. Schöne Spielzüge, perfekte Pässe, hartes Körperspiel und die Kölner waren kaum einmal vor dem Tor des TV Augsburg gewesen…dementsprechend begeistert ging es dann auf ins zweite Drittel.

Im zweiten Drittel war jedoch der Ehrgeiz der Kölner geweckt und es entflammte ein regelrechter Kampf beider Mannschaften. In der 22. Spielminute musste je ein Spieler beider Mannschaften vom Feld und Köln erzielte kurz darauf das 6:2 durch Kemmerling. Nur drei Minuten später bekamen wieder beide Mannschaften zwei Minuten Strafzeit. Weitere drei Minuten später schickten die Schiedsrichter einen Kölner Spieler vom Feld und als dieser „reklamierte“ setzte der Schiedsrichter nochmal zwei Minuten drauf. Diese Überzahl konnte Augsburg allerdings nicht nutzen, sondern nahm selbst zwei Strafminuten und bekam bei drei gegen drei dann das 6:3 wieder von Esser. Die vierminütige Strafe der Kölner war gerade abgelaufen, als sie erneut zwei Strafminuten nahmen. Auch diese Überzahlsituation nutzen die Augsburger allerdings nicht und bekamen stattdessen kurz darauf selbst eine Strafe und kassierten damit in der 37. Spielminute das 6:4 erneut durch Kemmerling.

Zusammenfassend nutzte Köln im zweiten Drittel seine Chancen rigoros während Augsburg keine seiner Chancen, besonders keine der zahlreichen Überzahlsituationen nutzte. Dies war nicht zuletzt der Kölner Verteidigung zu verdanken, die sehr gut stand und auch mit der inzwischen ziemlich aggressiven Spielweise der Kölner hatte Augsburg so seine Probleme.

Zu Beginn des 3. Drittels scheiterte zunächst Köln zweimal am Pfosten und zog in der 44. Minute die nächste Strafe. In dieser Überzahlsituation gelang dem TV Augsburg ein Tor, das die Schiedsrichter offensichtlich nicht gesehen haben. Kurz darauf erzielte der Kölner R. Weisheit das 6:5. Schließlich gab es nochmal 2+2 Minuten Überzahl für Köln in der 52. Minute, was diese erneut nutzen konnten und wieder durch Esser den Ausgleich zum 6:6 erzielten. Nur zwei Minuten später kam dann das 6:7 für Köln von R. Weisheit. Köln wurde in den nächsten Minuten dreimal auf die Strafbank geschickt, doch die Augsburger konnten nur das letzte zum 7:7 Ausgleich durch Arzt in der 58. Minute nutzen. Kurz vor Spielende wurde eine Strafe gegen Augsburg ausgesprochen, nachdem sich ein Kölner Spieler fallen gelassen hatte, ohne dass es überhaupt zu irgendeinem Kontakt der beiden Spieler gekommen war. Im Zuge dessen traf erneut Esser zum 7:8 in der 59. Minute. Nach einer Auszeit nahm Augsburg den Torwart raus und bekam 6 Sekunden vor Schluss das 7:9. Der Kölner Trainer nahm noch eine Auszeit, um selbst aufs Feld zu gehen und seine Mannschaft zu feiern. Was man davon nun halten mag, ist jedem selbst überlassen.

Insgesamt hat Augsburg eine starke Leistung gezeigt, einzig in Überzahl könnte man noch etwas zulegen. Das Ergebnis ist aber am Ende etwas Pech im letzten Drittel und zwei sehr umstrittenen Schiedsrichterentscheidungen zuzuschreiben. Die Mannschaft hat im ersten Drittel nahezu perfekt gespielt, bis zum Schluss wacker gekämpft und die Zuschauer mehr als begeistert. Ein besonderes Lob muss man dabei an den Torhüter des TVA aussprechen, der im 4. Heimspiel mit einer immensen Leistungssteigerung überzeugen konnte.

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Bears triumph on road again to eliminate Phantoms

By Eric Lord

Home. That is where a team is supposed to be more comfortable. It is where a team is supposed to win. In the Hershey Bears’ first-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, home meant nothing to either team. This was the Willie Nelson series, “On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Fortunately for Hershey, they were on the road last. The Bears topped the Phantoms 3-2 in the decisive game five on Sunday in Allentown. The Hershey victory meant that the road team won all five games in the series. With the win, the Bears advance to play the Providence Bruins in the Atlantic Division Finals.

 

For the first time in the series, the Bears jumped on the Phantoms early. The team had scored just one goal in the opening frame during the first four games. Sunday, Hershey netted two goals. The Bears went ahead at the 5:34 mark of the period. Tom Gilbert pushed the puck towards the net as a Hershey power play expired. The puck came to Stanislav Galiev. After his initial shot was saved by Lehigh Valley goalie Martin Oullette, Galiev got his own rebound and lifted his shot over Oullette’s pad to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

 

The Hershey doubled with 8:56 left in the opening period. Gilbert shot the puck from the point. Christian Thomas deflected Gilbert’s shot past Oullette to give the Bears a 2-0 lead. They would take that lead into the locker room.

 

Lehigh Valley was not about to go quietly. The Phantoms came out strong and earned a power play when Madison Bowey was sent off for tripping. Lehigh Valley made the Bears pay. Travis Sanheim’s shot missed the net, but took a strange bounce off on the boards. The puck came to Colin McDonald who knocked the puck in to cut the Hershey lead to 2-1.

 

Early in the third period, the Bears had a huge opportunity to increase their lead. With Samuel Morin already in the penalty box for delay-of-game, Scott Laughton clipped Chris Bourque with his stick and Hershey had a one minute and 24 second two-man advantage. The Bears could not take advantage and failed to score to continue their power play struggles (did not score a power play goal in the series).

 

The penalty kill could have given Lehigh Valley a big momentum boost. However, Hershey tallied an important insurance goal thanks to a little bit of hustle. Riley Barber was battling with a Phantom along the boards. The puck squirted loose. Nathan Walker hustled to the puck and cycled down to the goal line. He then threaded a pass across the ice to a wide-open Colby Williams, who had jumped into the play from the point. Williams wristed his shot into the net to give Hershey a 3-1 lead.

 

Williams’ goal would prove to be vital as the Phantoms still had fight left in them. Taylor Leier tapped the puck through Bowey’s leg. He then skated in and beat Copley on his blocker side to bring Lehigh Valley within one goal.

 

The Phantoms put the pressure on as time wound down & pulled Oullette with 2:05 remaining in the third period. Hershey goalie Pheonix Copley stood tall and the Bears held off the Lehigh Valley onslaught to win the game 3-2.

 

The road victory not only gave Hershey the series win, but also made some history. The Bears became only the second team in Calder Cup playoffs history to win all three games on the road in a five-game series. It was also only the second time that the road team every game in the series. Willie Nelson would be proud.

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Season Awards: Copley’s impact felt from the moment he returned to Hershey

By Eric Lord

In the previous two seasons, the Hershey Bears made acquisitions that helped the team make the Calder Cup Playoffs. During the 2014-15 season, the team claimed center Jim O’Brien off of waivers. The claim helped Hershey win the division because of O’Brien’s contributions on offense, face-offs and the penalty kill. The claim also kept O’Brien from divisional rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as the Penguins were going to sign O’Brien if he cleared waivers. Last season, the Bears signed National Hockey League (NHL) veteran Scott Gomez in January. Gomez improved Hershey’s power play and even though he left the team for the Ottawa Senators before the end of the season, his impact was felt in the playoffs because of the impact he had on young forwards Riley Barber and Travis Boyd.

 

This season, Hershey received two acquisitions from their parent club, the Washington Capitals, that helped the team. First, the Caps traded for veteran defenseman Tom Gilbert from Los Angeles in February. Gilbert gave the Bears the veteran presence on the blue line that they were lacking all season. He also had a huge influence on second-year defenseman Christian Djoos. After being paired with Gilbert, Djoos game took off to the point where he was names the American Hockey League’s Player of the Month in April.

 

While Gilbert’s arrival was important to the Bears, his acquisition was not the most impactful one for Hershey. That player would be obtained as part of the trade that brought defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington from St. Louis. That player was goalie Pheonix Copley.

 

The Bears needed a number one goalie to aid in their playoff push. Joe Cannata, signed to be the top netminder, simply did not work out. Rookie Vitek Vanecek did his best to carry the load, but that was a lot to put on the youngster’s shoulders. Copley, who spent his rookie year in Hershey before being sent to St. Louis in the T.J. Oshie trade, stepped in to the number one role immediately. He gave the Bears the confidence that he would be there to make the save when needed. This was something that the team lacked for most of the season. In 15 games with Hershey, Copley has won 10 times. He has a 2.23 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. By contrast, Cannata won 11 times in 22 games and had a goals against average of 3.22 and a save percentage of .876. Copley is giving up basically one goal less per game than Cannata did. One goal can make a big difference in a game, especially when a team is in a battle for the final playoff spot. That one goal less could get the team into the playoffs.

 

When Copley arrived, the Bears sat outside the playoffs. He then won seven of his first eight starts with Hershey to propel the Bears back into the playoffs. A 1-4 stretched dropped Hershey out of a playoff spot heading into last week. Copley stepped up and won all three games on the road during the week to push the Bears back into the last playoff spot. He especially stood tall during the second period during the Wednesday night game at Lehigh Valley. Hershey was outshot 17 to 7 in the second period, but Copley stopped 16 of those shots to keep the game tied. The Bears would eventually win in overtime. He then stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period on Friday night at Rochester (Bears were outshot 11 to 3), as Hershey hung on to beat the Americans 3-2. Copley was not done yet as he made several big stops late in the third period on Saturday against the Toronto Marlies. His work allowed Chandler Stephenson to score a late game-winner to give the Bears a perfect week. Now, Hershey has a one point lead over Bridgeport for the last playoff spot with two games remaining.

 

The Bears still need to win to make the playoffs this weekend and Copley will play a big role in those games. He has helped put the team in the position they are. Copley’s play since his arrival and his importance to the team is why he is the Impact Player of the Season for Hershey.

 

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Season Awards: Djoos’ improvement leads to standout season on defense

By Eric Lord

Heading into this season, the media and hockey experts were talking about second-year defenseman Madison Bowey and whether he would take the next step in his development. Little was said about Bowey’s fellow second-year defenseman Christian Djoos. As often happens in sports, circumstances change things and offer opportunities. Bowey missed a few months of the season because of an ankle injury and then later missed time due to an upper body injury. While Bowey was out injured, Djoos was consistently improving. By the time Bowey returned, Djoos had established himself as the Hershey Bears top offensive threat on the blue line and as a solid defender. Djoos’ play was key in Hershey’s run to the playoffs. His play makes Djoos not only the team’s most improved player, but also the team’s top defenseman.

 

During his rookie campaign, Djoos tallied eight goals and added 14 assists for a total of 22 points. Those were solid numbers for Djoos’ first season in North America. However, few could have predicted the huge jump in production Djoos would provide in his second season in Hershey. This season, the Swedish defenseman put home 13 goals and assisted on 45 others for 58 points. He finished third in the American Hockey League (AHL) for scoring by a defenseman, trailing Lehigh Valley’s T.J. Brennan and Syracuse’s Matt Taormina by two points. Djoos played 10 fewer games than Brennan and four less than Taormina. His 45 assists tied Taormina for the most by a defenseman in the AHL.

 

Obviously, Djoos’ numbers put him at the top of the scoring list for Hershey defensemen. Truthfully, it puts him at the top by a large margin. Aaron Ness and Tyler Lewington tied for second on the defenseman scoring list for the Bears with 17 points. That means Djoos outscored them by 41 points.

 

Those offensive totals also put Djoos at the top of the team scoring list. He finished third behind forwards Travis Boyd and Chris Bourque. He was second on the team in assists, trailing only Boyd’s 47. Djoos had a .88 points per game average. That is second to forward Paul Carey who averaged a point per game.

 

Djoos’ offensive production was important to Hershey. The team lost scorers Carey and Jakub Vrana to recalls to Washington. Riley Barber and Nathan Walker missed long stretches to injuries. The Bears needed someone to help fill the void. Djoos did just that. He also came up big when Hershey needed him down the stretch as they were battling for a playoff spot. Djoos had three goals and 13 assists in March and earned the AHL’s Player of the Month award. Then, he added four points in six games in April. The biggest of the points came in the next to last regular season game at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Needing a point to clinch a playoff spot, Djoos fired home his shot to give Hershey a third period lead. The goal would be the game winner and the playoff clincher.

The jump in Djoos’ production makes him the most improved player for the Hershey Bears this season. The importance of that production to the Bears making the playoffs makes Djoos the team’s top defenseman as well.

 

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