The guy in the photo above has talent. And skill. And moves.
The guy in the photo above has been making a large number of fans in the organization wonder what is wrong – wonder why he has not been able to stick in a lineup.
I suppose the guy in the photo above has not had an easy time of things over the past three seasons – most especially with frequent injury absences.
Two things I do know: 1) the guy in the photo above is a GOOD guy. A really good guy. And 2) watching how his game last night in Allentown progressed from so-so to WHOA leads me to believe that he is going to get another chance to prove himself.
Stan Galiev has become the star of the internet on this Thursday, and for good reason. (Still don’t believe me? Click here.)
Not only was his goal representative of an Xbox junkie’s controller, it stood as the game-winner in the Hershey Bears’ 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the beautiful new PPL Center.
I really, really want to see Galiev get 60-65 games in a Bears uniform this season. I want nothing more. But in order for that to happen, many things have to come together – not just the three or four different toe-drags and dangles he pulled into one stellar move.
He needs to be a defensively-smart player, he needs to help cover for pinching defensemen, and he needs to be more physical. We saw all three of those things get better – not outstanding, but better – as the game went on yesterday. If that can continue all pre-season (provided he gets more than two games of action), I’ll be a happy camper.
Let’s not leave out some other top performances from last night.
1) Pheonix Copley. Get used to hearing this name, fans. (How can you not? It’s the coolest name I’ve encountered in hockey so far!) While I was talking with goaltending coach Scott Murray on our return trip last night, Copley came up to join Murray for a short video de-briefing… or at least I thought it was going to be short. The two chatted for about 25 minutes. I later asked Murray what Copley could possibly improve on from his performance (three one-on-one saves, point-blank pad flashes and explosive quickness for a guy who is 6-3 or 6-4), and he told me “he opens up just a bit sometimes, and it is one of the kind of things that could get him in trouble. But he recovers to his feet so fast. Just watch.”
I did. And he did. The kid is legitimate. If you simply looked at his record last season at Michigan Tech, you wouldn’t expect much. But expect a lot. He is going to become a fan favorite to those who didn’t make the 74-mile venture last night.
2) Joel Broda. A two-point performance, which included a shorthanded snipe a’ la Alex Giroux quickness, should have earned him second-star honors. The forward was never out of place, played tireless penalty killing minutes, and was defensively very sound. He should have been, having captained the Bakersfield Condors under Troy Mann last season. And he has been around for a while. I like this guy, and he is another player that I just can’t figure out would be classified as “on the bubble”. I think we will see him for a good bit of games in Chocolate and White.
3) The penalty kill. It was 8-for-8. It (Copley especially) stopped four shots on :53 worth of 5-on-3 time against. It conquered faceoffs. It was aggressive.
It was really, really good. And it ranked in the top 10 in all four years of Troy Mann’s tenure as Hershey assistant coach from 2009-2013.
4) Mike Moore & Erik Burgdoerfer. Bryan Helmer’s top defensive pair had a really good night. Moore is as steady as they come defensively. And he is our Julien Brouillette of the upcoming season: the guy who doesn’t need to use a rocket of a shot, but the guy who, at any velocity, GETS THE PUCK ON NET. Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who in his own right is going to be a very good netminder, had a field day in making his first save thanks to a half-speed Moore point shot. Besides his accuracy, Moore is the kind of guy that ANY team would want in their locker room. And he helped Burgdoerfer, who I gave a really good rating in the first place, get even better as the game went on. These two played a lot of minutes together, and they didn’t tire, at least to our eyes.
5) Tim Kennedy. There is always one player who doesn’t get on the score sheet, yet plays such a sound game that you would vote him a star. That was Tim Kennedy to me. He was very good in the face-off circle, although I noticed that he seems to like the “push forward” method quite a bit – one that did take Lehigh Valley centers off guard at times. He was also one of the most aggressive forecheckers in last night’s lineup. Paired with rookie Caleb Herbert and winger Philippe Cornet on the top line, he led the trio to the best start to a Bears game than I have seen in a long time. They got in zone fast, they hunted loose pucks, they wore down the Phantoms defense, and created two scoring chances right off the bat. You can’t ask for much more. With the Bears’ history of signing veterans in Hershey has often come criticism from fans. If Kennedy plays like this, he too will bring no worries. And that shouldn’t be too hard – we all have seen him as the opponent. He is an NHL player.
Click this link for the box score from last night: Bears at Phantoms Game Sheet Oct. 1, 2014
The two teams rematch tomorrow at the GC at 7PM. Tix are just $12, parking is free, and it’s the Phantoms. And they’re back in PA. And they have Andrew Gordon.
Come join us Defend the Den!