Greetings from the GC!
On the personnel front, a few items to note this early afternoon as the Bears get set to face the Toronto Marlies.
First of all, Chris Brown was placed on waivers yesterday, cleared at noon today, and has formally been reassigned:
Will he play tonight? Head coach Troy Mann did not have that planned as of last night, or early this morning. The Bears did not have a full morning skate and he wasn’t sure if plugging #24 right into the mix tonight would allow Brown to be fully prepared. But, as always, we will let you know during the pre-game show tonight on radio if he goes.
There is also one other word on which the team is waiting. Liam O’Brien earned a match penalty for a check to the head of Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Mark Alt last night, which means that O’Brien is suspended “pending league review”. There will either be a suspension or there won’t be… the coaches just have to wait for word from the AHL offices and as of the time of this posting, they are still waiting. O’Brien may get to play tonight after all and we just have to wait and see. If he doesn’t and Brown doesn’t, Caleb Herbert is still available. Be sure to tune in tonight for the decisions.
Whatever the lineup, the Bears will face the best team in the league. That’s right, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton can no longer lay claim to that title. The Toronto Marlies own the distinction after wiping out a 3-0 deficit with three shorthanded goals – you read that correctly – in a span of 2:34 to force overtime and eventually take a 4-3 shootout decision from the Penguins last night at Mohegan Sun Arena. That win extended Toronto’s road point streak to 14 games, and their road win streak to eight. They face the Bears, who have won seven in a row at GIANT Center and who tonight begin a stretch of seven in a row at home.
There are lots of weapons on this Marlies club, from AHL all-star Mark Arcobello, to defensive sniper T.J. Brennan, to Calder Cup champion Richard Panik. Prospect Kasperi Kapanen has joined team Finland for the World Juniors, and AHL leading scorer William Nylander is expected to head to World Juniors as well. Goaltender Antonie Bibeau was recalled today to replace the injured Garret Sparks with the parent Maple Leafs, and that move resulted in the signing of veteran netminder and noted tough guy Ray Emery.
I’ll say this phrase quite often, as I did after the depleted Phantoms skated off with that 6-4 win last night: “it doesn’t matter who you are playing.” It’s how you play. Tonight, the Bears will need their best effort to halt the Marlies in the visitors’ last game before the holiday break.
Let’s get it done!