Happy holidays everyone! I sincerely hope your Christmas was a blessed and wonderful one with family and friends.
A few notes on player moves before we get to our game setup for tonight.
First, goaltender Mark Dekanich has been recalled from the South Carolina Stingrays. Fans might remember seeing the Nashville Predators’ draft pick back in 2011 at GIANT Center, as he suited up for the Western Conference at the AHL All-Star Classic.
Dekanich’s recent playing history has been well-documented. Prior to signing with the Stingrays (and eventually with Hershey on October 17, giving him a Bears-only one-way agreement), he played two years with Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL. The problem is, he wasn’t paid. Here is a link to an interview with Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, in case you missed it all.
Needless to say, he is thrilled to be playing in North America again. I’ll have a pre-recorded interview with him for you sometime this weekend.
He will dress as the backup tonight to Dan Ellis as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are back in Chocolatetown. Putting two-and-two together means that Justin Peters is not ready for game action just yet, after leaving Sunday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch after one period. Peters did skate a bit and took some shots with the team at morning skate today, but didn’t stay on for the full time. The move was to give him some work after the long layoff and see if he could go, but he just isn’t ready yet. No sense in rushing things. Here’s to hoping Petey is back out there very soon.
Next up? Connor Carrick, who was reassigned by the Capitals on Tuesday and promptly recalled this morning. The Caps, who host Montreal tonight, are presumably still waiting for Brooks Orpik to give his word that he is good to go. Until then, the Caps need an extra defenseman, and Carrick is the man.
Third up? Chris Bourque. I’ll give you some encouraging words: he seems to be feeling much, much better. He will be looked at by the team physicians one more time on Monday and the determination on his return will then be made. Hoping for Tuesday, fingers crossed.
Fourth up? Garrett Mitchell. This is the guy that Troy Mann said was the closest to returning, and in my pre-game interview with our head coach, you’ll hear just how close.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also has the injury bug in the room, but is also dealing with another bug – that of the recall variety. Two of their top scorers – Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson – are currently with the big club, as is the 2014-15 goaltender of the year Matt Murray. Add in the injuries to defensemen Barry Goers and former Bears captain Steve Oleksy, forwards Tyler Biggs and Tom Sestito and backup goaltender Tristan Jarry, and the phone to Wheeling was busy.
The Penguins have gone 5-0-0-1 in their last six games, and haven’t lost since the teddy bear toss game on December 6 here in Hershey. That loss – a 4-1 decision – matched their most lopsided setback of the campaign as well.
The Bears have a huge chance to put a stamp on this season series tonight. If the boys can get the legs going early, get the first goal, forecheck, forecheck, forecheck, and stay out of the penalty box, things will be looking up as we roll through this seven-game homestand.