The Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) play their final game tonight before the AHL Outdoor Classic scheduled for Sunday night, taking on the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche). Tonight is the second of two meetings between the two clubs, with the next contest set at Lake Erie’s home rink, Quicken Loans Arena. Tonight’s game marks the 10th time in history the two AHL clubs have faced off, with the Monsters holding a 5-2-0-2 advantage over Hershey historically.
The teams last played last season on February 23rd in Lake Erie, with the Monsters earning a 4-3 victory over the Hershey. Ryan Potulny, Boyd Kane and Tomas Kundratek recorded goals for Hershey, but a three-goal second period by the Monsters carried Lake Erie to victory. Colorado’s AHL affiliate swept Hershey last season, earning wins in their two regular season matchups against the Bears.
Lake Erie comes to Hershey on a long road trip, but they enter with momentum. The Monsters defeated the Houston Aeros last Saturday 3-2, with Dean Strong’s game winning goal proving to be the difference. Lake Erie goalie Sami Aittokallio played sensational in net for the Monsters, padding aside 26 of the 28 Houston shots on goal.
Hershey recently defeated the Worcester Sharks 3-2 on Wednesday night, earning the victory in the shootout. Philipp Grubauer earned the win in net for the Bears, continuing his recent hot play in goal following his call up from the ECHL. Hershey forwards Garrett Mitchell and Ryan Potulny recorded shootout goals and Grubauer shut the door on Lake Erie.
It’s unclear who will start with the Outdoor Classic looming on Sunday night, but Grubauer could likely get it. Hershey defenseman Dmitry Orlov remains sidelined as the NHL season gets underway Saturday afternoon.