Tag Archives: Trent Vogelhuber

Colorado Avalanche 2018-19 Season Preview

Unknown-1

Colorado Avalanche

43-30-9, 95 points, 4th in the Central Division

2nd Wild Card in the West, lost in First Round to NSH 4-2

Additions: F Cody Bass (signed to a PTO), F Matt Calvert, D Ian Cole, G Philipp Grubauer (acquired from WSH), F Scott Kosmachuk, F Logan O’Connor

Subtractions: G Jonathan Bernier (signed with DET), F Blake Comeau (signed with DAL), F Felix Girard (signed with the Manitoba Moose, AHL), D Jesse Graham (signed with Utica Comets, AHL), F Rocco Grimaldi (signed with NSH), G Andrew Hammond (signed with MIN), D Brooks Orpik (acquired from WSH, bought out, then signed with WSH), F Nail Yakupov (signed, KHL)

Still Unsigned: F Joe Colborne, F Reid Petryk, D Duncan Siemens, F Trent Vogelhuber

Re-signed: G Joe Cannata, D Ryan Graves, D Mason Geertsen, G Spencer Martin, D Patrik Nemeth, D Matt Nieto

Offseason Analysis: Now that Erik Karlsson has been traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic has had one of the best offseasons. Kidding aside, the Senators lottery protected their 2018 1st round pick in the three-team Matt Duchene trade, meaning the Avalanche have Ottawa’s 2019 1st round pick in addition to their own.

The #LoseForHughes watch has begun.

But as for Colorado’s offseason, things have gone swimmingly as Sakic’s roster made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2014. Blake Comeau’s 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games in 2017-18 have departed for Dallas. In his top-nine forward role, Sakic replaced the 32-year-old Comeau with 28-year-old, Matt Calvert.

Calvert had 9-15–24 totals in 69 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season and is looking to turn things around in health and in offensive production as a top-nine forward.

While Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen look to continue leading the team in production, Alexander Kerfoot seeks to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump on the second line.

On defense, Sakic knows time is on his side.

Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Barrie have made an effective pairing with Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson contesting for more ice time. Girard had an impressive rookie debut with three goals and 17 assists (20 points) in 68 games played, while Barrie and Johnson played veteran roles– anchoring the blue line for the Avs.

Patrik Nemeth proved to be a smart pickup off waivers from the Stars last season as a bottom-pair defender, so it was an easy decision to re-sign with the NHL’s hottest up-and-coming team from a 48-point season in 2016-17 to a 95-point effort (and playoff berth) in 2017-18.

To complete his top-six defensemen on the depth chart, Sakic signed 29-year-old durable defender, Ian Cole, to a three-year contract worth a friendly $4.250 million per season.

Cole had 20 points in 67 games with the Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins last season and is looking to prove that he’s more than just a flash in the pan at this point in his career.

A two-time Cup winner with the Penguins, Cole is in the midst of his prime and brings a competitive edge to the Avs in his quiet stability.

In goal, Semyon Varlamov has some competition for the starting job– if he can stay healthy– as Philipp Grubauer was acquired at the draft in June and signed to a three-year extension at a cap friendly $3.333 million per season.

Grubauer, 26, dropped the first two games of the Washington Capitals postseason run in April while Braden Holtby was figuring himself out, but managed a 15-10-3 record in 35 games played in the 2017-18 regular season as Washington’s backup. He also had a 2.35 goals against average and .923 save percentage in his most games played in a season since reaching the NHL during the 2012-13 season.

Varlamov, 30, managed to play in 51 games last season, despite injuries, and amassed a 24-16-6 record to go along with a 2.68 GAA and .916 SV%. Last season was much better than his 6-17-0 record in 24 games played in 2016-17, in which Varlamov had a career-worst 3.38 GAA and .898 SV%.

With one-year remaining on his contract at $5.900 million a season, Varlamov’s reached a make-or-break point in his career, let alone his time in the Mile High City. Grubauer is the way of the foreseeable future and a little healthy competition never hurt anyone for the starting job.

Sure Jonathan Bernier’s moved on to the Detroit Red Wings, but Colorado has one of the most sought after goalies that was on the slim trade market among options in the crease.

Offseason Grade: B-

The Avalanche had some needs and they filled them. In accordance with hockey logic, Colorado shouldn’t be as good as they were last season this season, but for the first time in at least a few years it appears they’ve found a reliable goaltender.

As MacKinnon continues to emerge and the kids grow into their own, Sakic’s roster looks set to make some waves in the coming years– at least as a spoiler (they took Nashville to six games before being eliminated after all), if not something more.

Despite acquiring Brooks Orpik only to buy him out as some sort of larger scheme the Capitals secretly wanted all along to sign him to a one-year, $1.000 million contract, Colorado didn’t make a bad choice this offseason. It’s just the beginning of making themselves an attractive free agent destination once again.

2018 Offseason Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the Colorado Avalanche and their outlook for the summer.

Unknown-1

The 2017-18 Colorado Avalanche came off of the worst season in the salary cap era with a 43-30-9 record and 95-point performance on the year, finishing 4th in the Central Division and clinching the final wild card spot in the 2018 postseason with a win in their final game of the regular season against the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis entered that game in April, in fact, ahead of the Avs in the standings by a point with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators in the First Round.

Not only did Colorado win, but they completed an unthinkable turnaround.

This, after trading the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Matt Duchene, to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three team trade that saw the Avalanche flip Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators, collecting a large package combined that included rookie defender Samuel Girard.

While one trade alone doesn’t put General Manager Joe Sakic in the hunt for the NHL’s GM of the Year award, the incredible turnaround in on-ice performance led by head coach, Jared Bednar, put Bednar in consideration for the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

Sakic currently holds onto the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and two second round picks (Colorado’s own and one from the Predators as part of the Duchene trade).

While the conditional 2018 1st round pick from the Ottawa Senators in the Duchene deal was top-10 protected, the Sens will surrender a 2019 first round pick to the Avalanche instead.

Regardless, Sakic and his scouting crew will have plenty of attractive “best available” talent to choose from in the middle of the first round (namely, Barrett Hayton, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Joseph Veleno, Jack McBain, Jared McIsaac and others).

Pending free agents

Colorado has about $22.900 million to spend this summer with Blake Comeau, Matt Nieto and Nail Yakupov as the only current-NHL roster pending free agent forwards.

Comeau, 32, is a pending-UFA that bounced back from 2016-17’s down year (remember when Carl Soderberg had 14 points that season? Carl. Soderberg.), with an average of 30 points in his three seasons in the Mile High city.

He’s been around the league a bit in his career, but he resurfaced as a durable forward on an otherwise young roster, amassing 13-21–34 totals in 79 games played with the Avalanche this season.

Nieto, 25, is a pending-RFA that was claimed off waivers last season by Colorado and had his best season since 2014-15 with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 15 goals and 11 assists (26 points) in 74 games for the Avs in 2017-18.

The biggest difference maker for the Avalanche this offseason is not messing things up. Keeping Nieto isn’t harmful to the team’s future as their younger players come into their own and a small term deal won’t hurt as the younger players gain experience.

In short, there’s nothing for Sakic to lose in building a roster that makes the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Not many expected them to be at the point of playoff contention this season, so any step forward is better than a step backward as Colorado continues to retool for a Cup run (someday).

If there’s one pending-RFA Sakic should have an easy time letting go of, it’s Nail Yakupov.

The 24-year-old 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Enty Draft signed a one-year deal with Colorado in attempt to resurrect his career. It did not go as planned, despite scoring often and scoring early in the regular season.

Yakupov produced nine goals and seven assists (16 points) in 58 games with the Avalanche in the regular season and was scratched for their entire 2018 postseason run.

That alone is an indication.

While he almost doubled his offensive production this season compared to his final year with the St. Louis Blues (3-6–9 totals in 40 games in 2016-17), it doesn’t appear he can be part of an NHL lineup with enough consistency.

At best, Yakupov is the one you least expect to score, but then surprises everyone with the occasional goal. At worst, he’s just taking up a roster spot you could be giving to someone else.

Sakic already tried the low-risk, high-reward with Yakupov. It’s best to move on.

On defense, Patrik Nemeth, 26, and Duncan Siemens, 24, are both pending-RFAs.

Nemeth was claimed off waivers early last October from the Dallas Stars and scored his first career NHL goal with Colorado (and then two more) this season. He first broke into the league with Dallas in the 2013-14 season and had 3-12–15 totals in 68 games with the Avs in 2017-18.

He’s a low cost top-6 blueliner on a roster with about 10 NHL caliber defensemen. Whether Nemeth returns or not comes down to how Sakic envisions the roster– with Nikita Zadorov entering a contract year and Tyson Barrie potentially hitting the open market in July 2020– and how Bednar thinks he’s going to play everyone.

The 11th overall pick of the Avalanche in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Siemens scored his first NHL goal and recorded his first career assist in 16 games played. That’s the most he’s played in a season after appearing in his first career game in 2014-15.

There’s nothing holding him back from leaving the organization in search of a place that’ll give him more of a chance, but if he’s comfortable enough in Colorado, that’s fine too. Realistically speaking, he won’t be back with an NHL job in Denver, though.

In goal, the Avalanche have on goaltender under contract for 2018-19 and it’s 30-year-old Semyon Varlamov.

With a $5.900 million cap hit, Varlamov isn’t all that bad– as trade bait. But who would buy an oft-injured goaltender plateauing past his prime?

Injuries once again plagued the veteran starter down the stretch, but his numbers technically improved. Again, it’s an almost automatic technicality coming off of 2016-17, but Varlamov did produce a 2.68 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 51 games this season (which was close to his 2.56 GAA and .921 SV% in 57 games in 2014-15 with Colorado).

His next game will be his 400th career NHL game and if Sakic tosses around the idea of retaining some salary, the Avalanche could possibly find a new home for the goaltender, while seeking a legitimate number one.

Spencer Martin, 23, is a pending-RFA that last played at the NHL level in 2016-17. He is 0-2-1 in his short three game NHL career with a 4.35 GAA and an .865 SV% in the worst season for the franchise since moving to Denver.

Backup goalie, Jonathan Bernier, 29, is a pending-UFA that in 37 games with the Avs this season, amassed a 2.85 GAA and .913 SV% with a 19-13-3 record. That’s down from his 2.50 GAA, .915 SV% and 21-7-4 record in 39 games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2016-17– ignoring the experience along the blueline Anaheim’s defense has over Colorado’s.

The problem with Bernier is that while he’s a backup goaltender, he’s been subpar with average teams. In 2015-16 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bernier was once again relegated to being a backup goalie for the first time since his breakout days behind Jonathan Quick with the Los Angeles Kings.

In 20 fewer games than 2014-15 (his last as a starter, in which he had a 2.87 GAA and .912 SV%), Bernier posted a 12-21-3 record with a 2.88 GAA and .908 SV% in 38 games with Toronto. Yikes.

Could the Avalanche take a stab at trying to acquire pending-RFA Philipp Grubauer from the Washington Capitals?

Sure, but let’s remember, they tried getting a Washington goaltender (in Varlamov) before to be their number one, so there’s no guarantees.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Rocco Grimaldi (UFA), Felix Girard (RFA), Jesse Graham (RFA), Joe Cannata (UFA), Mason Geertsen (RFA), Joe Colborne (UFA), Ryan Graves (RFA), Andrew Hammond (UFA), Reid Petryk (RFA), Trent Vogelhuber (UFA)

2016 NHL Free Agency-July 1st Signings Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

This post will be updated throughout the day as signings are officially announced. Be sure to check our Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) for all of the latest signings, news, and analysis throughout the day.

Free agency begins at noon (technically 12:01 PM ET) on July 1st. All that is known is shown and will be updated throughout the day. More analysis will come later as the day wraps up.

NHL Logo

LW Loui Eriksson signed a 6 year, $6.000 million AAV contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

F Andrew Ladd signed a 7 year deal with the New York Islanders worth $38.5 million ($5.500 million AAV).

D Stuart Percy has signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins worth $575,000 at the NHL level, $200,000 at the AHL level.

G James Reimer signed a 5 year, $3.4 million AAV contract with the Florida Panthers.

LW Milan Lucic has signed a 7 year deal with the Edmonton Oilers worth $6.000 million AAV.

D Michael Kostka signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

RW Colton Sceviour signed a 2 year deal with the Florida Panthers.

F Jonathan Marchessault signed a 2 year, $750,000 contract with the Florida Panthers.

G Anton Khudobin has signed a 2 year, $1.2 million contract with the Boston Bruins.

F David Perron signed a 2 year, $3.75 million contract with the St. Louis Blues.

C Frans Nielsen and the Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms on a 6 year deal worth $5.250 million AAV.

G Alex Stalock signed a 1 year deal with the Minnesota Wild.

C David Backes signed a 5 year, $6.000 million AAV contract with the Boston Bruins.

D John-Michael Liles signed a 1 year, $2.000 million contract with the Boston Bruins (re-signed).

D Brian Campbell signed a 1 year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

F Kyle Okposo signed a 7 year, $6.000 million AAV, contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

F Phil Varone signed a 1 year, two-way contact with the Ottawa Senators.

F Troy Brouwer signed a 4 year, $4.5 million AAV contract with the Calgary Flames.

C Eric Staal has signed a 3 year, $3.500 million AAV deal with the Minnesota Wild.

G Carter Hutton signed a 2 year, $1.125 million deal with the St. Louis Blues.

D Tom Gilbert signed a 1 year, $1.400 million deal with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed F Sam Carrick and F Pierre-Cedric Larie to 1 year contracts.

F Jason Chimera signed a 2 year, $2.250 million contract with the New York Islanders.

G Chad Johnson signed a 1 year, $1.700 million deal with the Calgary Flames.

D Ben Lovejoy signed a 3 year, $2.666 million AAV deal with the New Jersey Devils.

C Casey Bailey signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

LW Matt Lorito signed a 2 year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

F Chris Stewart signed a 2 year, $1.150 million AAV contract with the Minnesota Wild.

F Jamie McGinn signed a 3 year, $10 million contract with the Arizona Coyotes (worth $3.300 million AAV).

F Vernon Fiddler has signed a 1 year, $1.250 million contract with the New Jersey Devils.

D Adam Clendening signed a $600,000 contract with the New York Rangers, worth $300,000 at the AHL level.

D David Warsofsky signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The San Jose Sharks signed D David Schlemko to a 4 year contract worth $2.100 million AAV.

D Klas Dahlbeck signed a 1 year, $750,000 contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Max McCormick signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

F Dale Weise signed a 4 year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers worth $2.350 million AAV.

D Cameron Gaunce signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Zach Trotman signed a $650,000 contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

G Jonas Gustavsson signed a 1 year contract worth $800,000 with the Edmonton Oilers.

F Viktor Stalberg signed a 1 year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.

F Christian Thomas signed a 1 year deal with the Washington Capitals.

D Chad Ruhwedel signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D Jamie McBain signed a two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Michael Chaput signed a two-way contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

G Al Montoya signed a 1 year, $950,000 deal with the Montreal Canadiens.

F Shawn Matthias signed a 2 year deal with the Winnipeg Jets worth $2.125 million AAV.

F Andy Miele signed a 1 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

F Devante Smith-Pelly signed a 2 year deal with the New Jersey Devils worth $1.300 million AAV.

D Matt Irwin signed a 2 year deal with the Nashville Predators.

F Andrew Miller signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

F Alexander Radulov signed a 1 year, $5.750 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

The New Jersey Devils signed D Jon Merrill to a 2 year contract.

D Dan Hamhuis signed a 2 year contract with the Dallas Stars worth $3.750 million AAV.

G Jeff Zatkoff signed a 2 year, $900,000 AAV deal with the Los Angeles Kings.

The New Jersey Devils re-signed F Beau Bennett to a 1 year contract worth $725,000 (they had acquired him at the NHL Draft).

F Michael Grabner and the New York Rangers agreed to terms on a 2 year contract worth $1.600 million AAV.

The Colorado Avalanche signed D Ryan Stanton and F Turner Elson to two-way contracts.

D Zach Redmond signed a 2 year, $1.225 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

F Nathan Gerbe signed a deal with the New York Rangers.

F Boyd Gordon and the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to a 1 year contract, worth $950,000.

F Michael Latta signed a 1 year deal with the Los Angeles Kings.

F Andrew Agozzino signed a 1 year deal with the St. Louis Blues.

D Chad Billins signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

F Lee Stempniak signed a 2 year, $2.5 million AAV contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Ottawa Senators signed F Chad Nehring to a 1 year, two-way contract.

F Pat Cannone signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild.

D Patrick Wiercioch signed a 1 year, $800,000 deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

C Joe Colborne signed a 2 year, $2.500 million AAV contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

D Fedor Tyutin signed a 1 year, $2 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

D Ian McCoshen signed an Entry-Level Contract with the Florida Panthers.

RW Brett Connolly signed a 1 year, $850,000 contract with the Washington Capitals.

D Justin Falk signed a 1 year, $850,000 contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

F Jeremy Morin signed a 1 year, two-way, deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

D Mikhail Sergachev signed a 3 year Entry-Level Contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

F Quinton Howden signed a 1 year, two-way contract worth $650,000 with the Winnipeg Jets.

D Kevin Connauton signed a 2 year deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Patrick Eaves signed a 1 year, $1 million contract with the Dallas Stars (re-signed).

F Greg Carey signed a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

D Will O’Neill and the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to terms on a contract.

D Philip Larsen signed a 1 year, $1.025 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

F Michael Bournival signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

F Gabriel Dumont signed a 1 year, two-way contract worth $575,000 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Montreal Canadiens signed LW Daniel Carr to a 2 year contract worth $725,000 AAV.

D Mark Fraser signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

F Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond signed a 1 year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

G Justin Peters signed a 1 year contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Matt Martin signed a 4 year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, worth $2.500 million AAV.

G Joe Cannata signed a deal with the Washington Capitals.

D Darren Dietz agreed to terms with the Washington Capitals.

F Thomas Vanek signed a 1 year, $2.600 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

F Ryan White signed a 1 year deal, worth $1.000 million, with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Steve Ott signed a 1 year, $800,000 contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Winnipeg Jets and D Brian Strait agreed to terms on a 1 year, $600,000 contract.

F Mikkel Boedker signed a 4 year contract with the San Jose Sharks.

D Victor Bartley  signed a 1 year, two-way contract, worth $650,000 in the NHL/$350,000 in the AHL with the Minnesota Wild.

F Spencer Abbott signed a 1 year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Dallas Stars signed D Andrew Bodnarchuk to a 2 year contract.

D Dustin Stevenson agreed to a 1 year contract with the Dallas Stars. 

F Michael Blunden signed a 2 year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

D Michael Paliotta agreed to terms with the New York Rangers.

D Karl Stollery signed a 1 year, two-way contract, worth $575,000 at the NHL level with the New Jersey Devils.

The Vancouver Canucks signed C Jayson Megna to a 1 year deal.

RW Borna Rendulic signed a 1 year, two-way contact with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Detroit Red Wings signed G Edward Pasquale to a 1 year contract.

F Chris Mueller signed a 1 year, two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

F Dennis Yan signed a 3 year Entry-Level Contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

D Yannick Weber signed a 1 year contract with the Nashville Predators.

F Riley Nash signed a 2 year contract, worth $900,000 AAV with the Boston Bruins.

G Jeremy Smith signed a 1 year contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Colorado Avalanche also agreed to terms with F Jim O’Brien, F Mike Sislo and F Joe Whitney to 1 year deals.

F Reid Petryk and F Trent Vogelhuber signed 2 year deals with the Colorado Avalanche.

RW Carter Camper signed a 1 year, two-way contract, worth $575,000 at the NHL level with the New Jersey Devils.

D Andrew MacWilliam signed a 1 year, two-way deal with the New Jersey Devils, worth $575,000 at the NHL level.

 

Zaar and Lake Erie Come From Behind and Easily Defeat Hershey to Take Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

 

cc16_primaryDown the Frozen River is now covering the AHL! If you don’t know what the AHL is I will let you know! The AHL (American Hockey League) is called the minor league. The reason why it is called this is because it is a level below the NHL (National Hockey League). Each team in the NHL and the AHL are affiliated with each other. This means that every single NHL team signs a contract with an AHL team. A player can either be called up by the NHL team or sent down to the AHL team during the season as well.

Both the Hershey Bears and the Lake Erie Monsters will begin their quest for the 2016 AHL Calder Cup. It features the Bears (who’s NHL affiliate is the Washington Capitals) out of the East Coast and the Monsters (who are affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets) out of the West Coast. This is the Bears first appearance in the finals since the 2009-2010 season when they won it all beating the Texas Stars 4 games to 2. While this is Lake Erie’s first Calder Cup Final appearance in franchise history.

The game started out with both teams gaining equal chances but no one could get the momentum they needed to score. This would change with just 4:28 into the opening frame. Lake Erie would gain the puck at their own blue line, center T.J. Tynan would receive a beautiful stretch pass. Tynan would go in all alone on a breakaway from the attacking blue line in. Tynan would skate right into the slot fake a slap shot and opened up to his forehand trying to go upstairs for the goal. Well, Bears goalie Justin Peters was having none of this and stretched out with his left pad to rob Tynan with the tip of his pad. This save kept the game scoreless.

Lake Erie was all over Hershey front to back controlling most of the first period. This relentless pressure resulted in the Monsters second prime scoring chance of the first period.

with 7:28 into the period Monsters winger Sonny Milano would make a great defensive play Bears defender Ryan Stanton at the right dot just outside Hershey’s zone. Milano picked pocketed the puck right off Stanton’s stick and went in all alone for their second breakaway of the period. Milano would fancy his luck opting to go to his right just like Tynan did before. The result was the same for Milano and Peters stood tall and stopped his shot with his left pad/blocker to keep the game scoreless.

This provided a HUGE boost for the Bears as 3:10 later Hershey would grab the game’s first goal.

Bears winger Chris Bourque would burst into the offensive zone on the right side, stop on a T at the tops of the circle, and skate back up to the tops of the blue line. Bourque would find a cutting Jakub Vrana with a rifle of a pass while Vrana was barreling into the zone. Vrana would receive the pass at the top of the high slot and roof a laser of a wrist shot beating Monsters goalie Anton Forsberg high over his blocker for the 1-0 lead. This was Vrana’s 8th goal of the playoffs tying him for the league lead.

297_hershey-bears-primary-2013

Lake Erie would end the period down a goal which they were not happy about. The Monsters were controlling a majority of the first with a lot of pressure in the o-zone. They also did a solid job limiting the Bears shots to the outside despite giving up the opening goal.

The start of the second period was no different than the start of the first. What I mean by this was that both teams, again, had a couple chances but none of them were big. Both goalies came up big, especially Anton Forsberg of the Monsters.

Finally, after all, the pressure to start the period Lake Erie was able to get past Hershey’s defenders and tie this game up. With just about eight minutes gone in the middle frame, Monsters’ Daniel Zaar would get a pass from fellow linemate Alex Broadhurst in the neutral zone. Zaar would take the tape to tape pass at center ice and speed past Bears defender Tyler Lewington and in on another breakaway. Zaar would speed into the slot and rip a wrister under the glove hand of Justin Peters and just inside the right post for his 4th goal of the playoffs and leveling the score at one goal apiece.

Surprisingly, after Zaar’s goal to tie the game, neither Hershey or Lake Erie were able to gain any momentum back to their side. Both goalies again acted like brick walls and did not let another goal get by them and the middle period ended 1-1.

The start of the third period was much different. The Bears were in on the attack looking for the goal to break the tie. Their pressure paid off as we would get the first penalty of the game just 58 seconds into the third. Monsters center Alex Broadhurst would get called for two minutes after he hooked a Bears player. This sent Hershey to their first PP of the game but was unable to break the deadlock after some solid saves from Forsberg.

Then just about four minutes and change later Lake Erie would grab the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal thanks to winger Trent Vogelhuber. Captain Ryan Craig would feed Vogelhuber behind Hershey’s net. Vogelhuber would corral the pass, skate behind the net, and come out from behind the right side of the net. He would skate right to the right dot, turn around, and whip (what looked like to be a harmless shot) on net. The puck took a deflection off Bears defender Aaron Ness’ stick and through the 5 hole of Justin Peters for the 2-1 lead.

lake-erie-monsters-logo-13bd4f971e24a58c

The play would then settle down for the next five minutes of play as both teams settle down into their roles. Lake Erie defending and Hershey pressing for that tying goal.

Hershey would go back to their second and last man advantage of the game as winger Josh Anderson got the gate for roughing. Hershey would once again, gain a little momentum with a flurry of shots but the Monsters were able to kill off the pressure.

Then with 6:27 remaining in the last period the Monsters were back on the offensive prowl and tallied a very important insurance goal. Bears defender Ryan Stanton looked to keep the puck, step around the forecheck and start a rush from his own zone. This was a bad idea as Lake Erie’s first goal scorer Daniel Zaar would make another beautiful defensive pick and steal the puck right from Stanton’s stick at the left-hand dot. Zaar would then be all alone for a small breakaway where he took full advantage. Bears goalie Justin Peters looked to poke check the puck away but failed. In doing this, he opened up his 5 hole and Zaar finessed the puck right through his legs for the two-goal lead at 3-1. This was Zaar’s second goal of the game.

Just 1:36 later the Monsters would strike again! Lake Erie’s winger Oliver Bjorkstrand would feed the puck over to D-man Dean Kukan at the right side blue line. Kukan would put a helpless wrister towards the net that was deflected by winger Markus Hannikainen in the slot and sneaked past Justin Peters for the 4-1 lead with just four minutes. The Bears were unable to muster any offensive after this deflecting goal and the score ended with the Monsters’ easily taking the game 4-1.

Lake Erie’s goalie Anton Forsberg stopped 26 out of 27 shots for a stunning .963 SV% while Hershey’s goalie Justin Peters turned away 22 out of 26 shots for a terrible .846 SV%. The Bears led in shots (27-26). There were only 2 penalties in the game with both of them going to Lake Erie. The Bears were 0/2 on the man advantage while the Monsters did not get a chance.

Lake Erie now leads the series 1-0. These two teams will suit up again Friday night for Game 2 in Hershey with puck drop at 7 pm.