What you may need to know before the Devils and Bears take to the ice in Boardwalk Hall tonight:
-Season: This is the fourth of six meetings between the two teams this season, with the Bears holding a 3-0 edge. Last meeting was January 21st in Chocolatetown, a dominating 8-3 win by the Bears that saw the teams combine for 173 penalty minutes. After tonight, they face each other two more times in Hershey, on February 26th and March 26th.
-Standings: Hershey begins the day in second place in the East Division with a record of 29-14-1-2, good for 61 points. They stand 9 points behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and 2 points ahead of Norfolk. A recent 6 game winning streak has moved the Bears position from as low as 4th up to the 2nd place slot. Albany stands in 6th place with a record of 18-25-0-3, good for 39 points. They are 1 point ahead of Syracuse and 4 points ahead of Adirondack, but 14 points behind 5th place Binghamton.
-Scoring: Hershey is lead by All Star Andrew Gordon and winger Brian Willsie, both with 44 points each (Gordon 21 G, 23 A; Willsie 19 G, 25 A) and ex-Rat captain Keith Aucoin with 43 points (12 G, 31 A). All-Star selection Braden Holtby (DNP in game due to injury) and Dany Sabourin share time in net, Sabourin leading the way with 14 wins. I’m guessing Sabourin will again be in net tonight, as he has started all 3 games again the Devils (and also due to Holtby’s injury). On the home side, All Star Matt Anderson continues to pace the Devils in scoring with 32 points (16 G, 16 A), followed by Michael Swift with 28 points (16 G, 12 A). I do expect Mike McKenna to be back in net after Dave Caruso’s disasterous performance against Rochester on Saturday, but I wouldn’t rule out an appearance by Caruso at some point with a 3 game in 4 day stretch.
-Miscellaneous: This is a designated “home” game for Albany in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, the second of four appearances there for the Devils. First trip on December 5th they defeated Adirondack 4-2. The second game was scheduled December 12th against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but was postponed due to poor ice conditions. They will play the makeup on February 7th. The fourth game is scheduled for February 27th against Norfolk.
UPDATE: Per Hershey beat writer Tim Leone on Twitter, Sabourin is having knee surgery and is out 2-3 months. Something tells me the injury happened when Louis Robitaille ran him in January, he did appear to favor one leg but played through it. Todd Ford, who is up from their ECHL affiliate in South Carolina, is the scheduled starter with Holtby still out. The Bears have recalled Jared DeMichiel to be the backup.
Game time 7:00. I will be tweeting this one from home, and this time I think I’m ordering the video feed, for obvious reasons…