Last night after the Albany Devils defeated the Bears by a count of 2-1, head coach Troy Mann met with Bears president/general manager Doug Yingst and a few of the visiting personnel from the Washington Capitals. Four players were eventually released from their camp tryouts, with all eventually expected to join the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays for their training camp.
Defensemen Nick D’Agostino and Nick Jones are signed to ECHL contracts with South Carolina and are on their way. Forwards Miles Koules and Cole Wilson were tendered camp tryout offers with the Stingrays, and per Yingst, gave a verbal yes to attending. It’s a win-win for both of them to head there and get some more experience. Koules hasn’t done enough for Mann’s liking, and Wilson has yet to practice due to his recovering from a minor injury.
Everyone agreed that each player in last night’s lineup gave something positive to the game – especially, as Mann dubbed, “the kids”. When I posted my picks for top three players midway through the game, I wasn’t sure if the coaching staff would have other names in mind or whether my picks would match. But it turned out that I did pretty well. Mann felt that Albany goaltender Ken Appleby was “the best player on the ice for both teams, no doubt.” That was evident in the post-game three star selections. I agreed, but admittedly didn’t until the third period. He was outstanding, and won the game for the visitors.
For the Bears:
- Vitek Vanecek played a poised, calm game, and even today after looking at video, nobody could see exactly how Blake Coleman’s redirect found its way into the net. Most thought it banked off of Vanecek’s pad. If it did, it was the one out-of-position blemish on an otherwise solid night. Max Novak’s power-play goal was a hard one-timer from the slot – no chance for Vanecek to make the stop.
- Tyler Lewington, Mann felt, may have ranked as the Bears’ best defensemen throughout the game. For a stay-at-home type blueliner, he did everything expected of him.
- Christian Djoos continued to carry the smart play that got him high marks in the Estero rookie tournament, and he is really challenging for a top-four role in Hershey.
- Riley Barber, according to Mann and Capitals professional scout Jason Fitzsimmons, played with a compete level that exceeded their expectations. He was skating hard everywhere, and made a terrific play to veteran Carter Camper on a two-on-one that truly should have been a goal. Appleby got just enough of his toe guard to keep Camper’s attempt outside the left post. He only “tried to do too much” once in the game, when he tried to beat three players on an on-the-fly line change.
- Travis Boyd, really, shouldn’t be this far down in this writeup. I voted him as the best two-way forward in the game. You can tell that he is not afraid to shoot the puck when the opportunity is there for him; he battles hard along the boards; and without the puck in the offensive zone, he can interrupt what would almost certainly be a clean breakout for the opposition with his defensive smarts.
Defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer and forwards Garrett Mitchell and Dustin Gazley wore the “A” for the Chocolate and White. All of the “Bears regulars” played very well according to Mann.
The game turned ugly in the third period, with three players receiving game misconducts and Devils forward Chris McKelvie getting tagged with two. 106 combined penalty minutes was the end result, in a game that – let’s face it, toward the end of the first period – seemed like it was headed for a ‘ho-hum’ night.
It’s never ‘ho-hum’ when the Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tangle, which will happen tomorrow at 7:00 PM. No matter the roster, it’s that logo on the jersey that draws the ire of Bears Nation.
Grab a $12 ticket, sit anywhere you’d like in the regular seating, forget the name “Joaquin” for a while, and watch some hockey. The prospects are expected to play again, but so are those expected on the opening night roster such as Chris Bourque, Dan Ellis, Mike Moore – just to name a few.
More reinforcements from Capitals camp are expected as well within the next 24 hours, so keep checking back here for updates.
Have a great day!