AUSSIE Hershey Bears forward Nathan Walker was caught on the ice when the annual teddy bear toss saw thousands of stuffed animals thrown over the glass.
Walker had one assist, setting up Zach Sanford’s third period goal, as the Bears went on to beat the Syracuse Crunch 4-2 in the American Hockey League.
But it was the teddy bear toss that got the 9,042 home fans really excited. In the first period Garrett Mitchell opened the scoring to signal the crowd to start tossing. And so they did, throwing a record 20,662 bears onto the ice.
Hershey players, including Walker, helped collect the toys which will be donated to local children’s hospitals.
Following a breakout season last year where he scored career high points (41) to become the first Australian to play in the Calder Cup finals, Walker is on track to have an even bigger year in 2016-17. Through 20 games this season he’s already tallied six goals and six assists for Hershey, as his team sit on equal points atop the Atlantic Division in the AHL.
The Sydney product was selected 89th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2014 NHL draft. He is into his fourth year playing in the AHL — a tier below the NHL — for Washington’s feeder team, Hershey.
Vegas Golden Knights tough guy Ryan Reaves has been slapped with a two-game ban after he pulled out a “chunk” of the hair of Colorado Avalanche player Ryan Graves during Sunday’s NHL playoff match in Colorado.
Reaves, who has been suspended numerous times during his NHL career, was given a match penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, which occurred halfway through the third period of Colorado’s 7-1 game one victory.
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“During this scrum both the officials and Reaves acknowledge that a chunk of Graves’ hair was pulled out by Reaves,” the league’s Department of Safety said in a video statement.
Reaves also punched Graves in the back of the head and took him aggressively down to the ice. His actions sparked a fracas at the side of the net and led to a nine-minute Colorado powerplay.
Graves remained on the ice for several minutes before heading to the locker room.
In 686 career games, Reaves has 49 goals and 937 minutes in penalties while playing with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas.
CONOR Sheary started the season in the minor leagues.
Safe to say the Pittsburgh rookie is not heading back there anytime soon. If ever.
Sheary’s shot from just inside the left circle zipped by Martin Jones’ glove and into the net 2:35 into overtime to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 3 is Saturday night in San Jose.
Sharks defenseman Justin Braun tied it with 4:05 left in regulation but San Jose fell to 0-4 when pushed to overtime in the playoffs. Sidney Crosby won a face-off in the San Jose zone and dropped it to Kris Letang. Letang feigned a shot and instead fed it to Sheary, who quickly whipped it by Jones for his fourth of the postseason and second of the series.
Phil Kessel picked up his 10th goal of the playoffs for Pittsburgh and Matt Murray made 21 saves to help the Penguins moved within two victories of their fourth championship.
The Sharks blamed themselves for their shaky start in Game 1, with defenseman Brent Burns admitting the spectacle of playing the franchise’s first Finals led to spending a large portion of the first period standing around and watching the Penguins take an early lead on the way to an eventual 3-2 victory.
Burns and his teammates promised repeatedly they would be sharper and more focused faced with the prospect of heading home in a 2-0 hole, pointing to their 5-1 record this postseason in games immediately following a loss as proof of their resilience.
While the Sharks were better Wednesday, the sustained push the Penguins were expecting from the Western Conference champions failed to materialise until it was nearly too late. Pittsburgh did the two things that have been the club’s hallmark since coach Mike Sullivan took over for Mike Johnston in mid-December, controlling the puck and forcing the San Jose to go a full 200 feet to create chances.
Most of the night, the Sharks struggled to make it halfway there. Pittsburgh’s forecheck made San Jose labour just to get the puck in the offensive zone and once there, the Penguins kept throwing black-and-gold glad bodies in the way. San Jose stressed the way to get pressure on the 22-year-old Murray was by creating second chances. The Sharks instead were often one and one, if they managed to get the puck on the net at all. Outside of three separate shots from Tomas Hertl that clanked off the post and out of harm’s way, Murray was rarely tested for the first 50 minutes. Still, it took time for Pittsburgh’s heady and hectic play to translate into a goal, with the group that’s been Pittsburgh’s best line for the last three months finally breaking through against Jones just before the midway point.
Thrust together as an experiment when Evgeni Malkin went out with a left elbow injury in mid-February, Kessel, Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino have rapidly evolved into Pittsburgh’s most dangerous line during the postseason. They began the night with 90 combined points in 34 games, and added to it during another typically aggressive shift when Hagelin stripped it from San Jose defenseman Roman Polak and slipped it to Bonino in the slot.
Bonino, who put in the Game 1 winner with 2:33 remaining from a similar spot, slipped it to Kessel on the door step. The pass was heading for the net but Kessel nudged it in anyway just to be sure. It appeared as if it would be enough to wrap things up in regulation until Braun found a moment of joy in the midst of a difficult time for his family. Braun’s father-in-law, former Flames and Blackhawks centre Tom Lysiak, died Monday following a lengthy fight with leukaemia.
Braun remained with the team, pledging to pay his respects to Lysiak before Game 3. His second career playoff goal — a shot from just outside the top of the right circle that made its way under Murray’s glove and off the post before crossing the line to give the Sharks a needed jolt with their chances at a first championships teetering.
The momentum didn’t last and San Jose headed home down two games. Only five teams in the history of the Stanley Cup Final have managed to dig out of a 2-0 hole to win.