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Game Preview: Thunderbirds at Bears, 7 p.m.

Game Preview: Thunderbirds at Bears, 7 p.m.

01/10/2018 -

Springfield Thunderbirds (14-22-1-1) at Hershey Bears (17-16-1-3) 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 7:00 p.m
Giant Center

REFEREES: Guillaume Labonte (35), Brandon Blandina (20)
LINESMEN: Scott Pomento (25), Richard Jondo (55)

Broadcast Information (Pre-game 6:30 PM)
RADIO: WQIC-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, WOYK 1350-AM, Hershey Bears App, Listen at Giant Center on 88.9 FM--Zack Fisch, the Voice of the Bears, and Mitch Lamoureux on the call
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream, Caps Radio 24/7


THUNDERBIRDS AT BEARS: The Hershey Bears look to continue their winning ways this evening as they host the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Bears enter tonight’s game having won two straight games, and having collected points in four straight contests. Hershey will look to win its third consecutive game tonight, a mark they have accomplished only once this season. These two teams, which met two weeks ago in Springfield, will also meet again next Wednesday at the MassMutual Center. Tonight is Hersheypark Pass Night.

LAST TIME OUT: The Bears enter tonight’s game coming off a pair of victories over the Charlotte Checkers last weekend, including a 3-0 shutout win on Sunday evening. Netminder Vitek Vanecek denied all 29 Charlotte shots sent his way while Hershey went a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. The Bears got a goal from Riley Barber just 1:25 into the game, and forward Tyler Graovac also tallied a first period goal to give Hershey the 2-0 lead. Travis Boyd scored in the third period on the power play and Hershey earned the win to move above .500. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 6-2 loss last Saturday on home ice versus the Providence Bruins. The Thunderbirds fell in a 3-0 hole in the first 11:27 of the game and were never able to catch up to the Atlantic Division leading Bruins. Anthony Greco and Jayce Hawryluk had the goals for the Thunderbirds.

LAST TIME VS. T-BIRDS: These two teams last met just two weeks ago in Springfield. The Bears came away victorious, earning a 4-2 win thanks to three unanswered goals to end the affair. The Thunderbirds led 2-1 after the opening frame on Maxim Mamin and Jayce Hawryluk goals, but Hershey roared back, getting a goal from Wayne Simpson at 4:42 of the second period, and the eventual game-winning goal from Mathias Bau at 16:15 of the middle stanza. Travis Boyd and Riley Barber also scored in the victory and netminder Pheonix Copley earned his first win between the pipes since Dec. 3, stopping 26 shots. Hershey’s Chris Bourque tallied three assists in the victory, while Aaron Ness added a pair of helpers.

BRICK WALL BIRTHDAY BOY: Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday. In his last game as a 21-year-old, Vanecek posted a fantastic performance, earning his second shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over Charlotte last Sunday. Vanecek stopped all 29 shots thrown his way and earned the game’s first star honors. Vanecek now has seven shutouts in his 52 career AHL games, giving him a shutout approximately every seven and a half appearances. As a comparable, current Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby posted his seventh AHL shutout with Hershey in similar fashion. Holtby, then also 21-years-old, posted his seventh career AHL shutout in his 57th career AHL game. It also came versus Charlotte on Jan. 29, 2011. Vanecek is 6-4-1 on the season, and ranks fifth in the AHL with a 2.18 goals against average.

BIG GAME BARBER: Hershey forward Riley Barber is on a roll of late after scoring in both last Saturday and Sunday’s victories over Charlotte. Both of Barber’s goals were game-winning tallies, and the forward enters this week tied with Chris Bourque for the team lead in goals with 11. Barber has five game-winning goals, a mark that is tied for the most in the AHL with Nick Merkley (Tucson), Mason Appleton (Manitoba), and Ben Smith (Toronto). Barber’s goal Sunday was his 50th career AHL tally, and it came in his 150th career AHL game. After going pointless in five games from Nov. 26-Dec. 8, Barber has points in eight of his past 12 contests.

STREAKING INTO 2018: The Bears are currently on a four-game point streak (3-0-1-0) and have collected points in five of the past six games. Forwards Riley Barber (three goals, two assists) and Tyler Graovac (two goals, two assists) are also on four-game point streaks, which ties Chris Bourque and Liam O’Brien for the longest streaks of any Bear this season.

ON THE BRINK: Several members of the Bears are approaching milestones. Forward Dustin Gazley enters this week with 99 points (44 goals, 55 assists) during his tenure with Hershey. He’s posted a goal and an assist versus the Thunderbirds in three contests this year. Center Travis Boyd sits at 99 assists in his AHL career going into Wednesday’s game. A date with the Thunderbirds might be what Boyd, who has just four assists in his last 20 games, needs to post that elusive 100th assist. He has four points (one goal, three assists) in three games versus Springfield this season.

BEARS-THUNDERBIRDS FAST FACTS: The Bears penalty kill has been perfect in four straight games, going 15-for-15…Springfield enters tonight’s game as the AHL’s worst road team, going just 3-12-1-0 away from the MassMutual Center. The three losses is tied for the worst in the league with Cleveland, and the seven points on the road is the lowest total in the league. However one of the Thunderbirds wins came in Hershey as Springfield upended the Bears 2-1 on Nov. 22…Part of Springfield’s lack of success away from the Giant Center is the power play, which ranks 30th in the league (8-for-83, 9.6%) on the road…The Thunderbirds have allowed a league worst eight shorthanded goals while Hershey is the only team to not allow a shorthanded goal this year...The Bears are 14-0-0-2 when leading after two periods of play this season.

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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