Next Guy Up; Bears at Amerks – 1/8

People golfing on Christmas Eve in Pennsylvania.

Nobody skiing in Pennsylvania over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

No snow on the ground in Rochester, New York on January 8.

A player swap 2 hours before face-off.

Chalk these up as things unexpected.  But, they have happened… and adjustments must continue to be made.

Such is the case as we get ready for action tonight at the Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial – a place to which we haven’t been since the 2013-14 season.  Rather than having a normal preparation for this game, it may have been the busiest week I’ve experienced in a long time, and thank goodness for the patience of the good people that manage the Amerks.  We had four back-and-forth changes to make to our roster and 20 extra minutes of fill time for which to prepare before tonight’s game as the Amerks celebrate a wonderful 60 seasons in the American Hockey League.

More on that later.  First, to the all-Chocolate-and-White news.

The week began with the recall of center Cam Reid from the Bears’ former affiliate, the Reading Royals.  The simple answer to the question “how do you call players up from somewhere besides South Carolina?” lies in the health of the only two forwards left with the Stingrays that are signed to AHL-ECHL contracts with Hershey.  Center Austin Fyten is out week-to-week with an injury, and center Maxime Sauve, who hasn’t been with the Bears since training camp, is out long-term.  The proximity of Reading, the great partnership with head coach Larry Courville at our former ECHL affiliate, and the fact that Reid may have been the “freshest” to play the center position were all factors in giving him a shot in Hershey.

Why was he recalled in the first place?  Zach Sill remains on recall, and is serving a two-game suspension for a hit on Boston’s Adam McQuaid.  The second of those two games is tomorrow afternoon, when the Caps visit MSG to play the New York Rangers.  Additionally, Chandler Stephenson remains on the sidelines here with an upper-body injury.  Stephenson did not practice with the Bears at all this week, and Troy Mann shared that he is likely out for the weekend.  Troy was toying with the idea of dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen, but if that was the case, he said it wouldn’t be right to keep Reid here and not play him when Reading could obviously use him.  So, keep him, or reassign him?  Stand by.

The week continued with news that defenseman Mike Moore became ill on Wednesday.  He stayed away from the rink and hasn’t returned since.  No chance he would come on the road for tonight or tomorrow, so the Bears summoned defenseman Joey Leach from South Carolina – their last available player under contract with Bobby Shea still with the Bears (who will play tonight against the Amerks).

Fast forward to yesterday, about 3/4 of the way through the final practice before the team traveled here to Rochester.  Travis Boyd was the recipient of a deflected puck to the chin area, left practice and had to receive medical attention.  Remember Cam Reid?  He thus remained on the trip.  However, when we arrived in Rochester, news came to the coaching staff that Boyd was, in fact, doing very well and could even play.  This morning, the news was even better.  Boyd was en route to Rochester, arrived safely, and will dress tonight.  Reid’s status would now be determined after warmups.

Then came the swapping of Paul Carey and Ryan Stanton with the Capitals…literally 15 minutes ago.

It was determined that Carey deserved the chance to prove himself with the Caps, and was thus recalled.  I whole-heartedly agree.  The guy has been a warrior here, battles along the boards with the best of them, rarely if ever turns the puck over, and has a rifle of a shot.  Ryan Stanton was reassigned to make room on the salary-cap side of things, and is expected to be in Syracuse when we arrive there later tonight.  He did not come to Rochester.  Reid’s status is now determined: he is in.  It can be inferred that Carey’s recall goes along with the fact that the Caps play an early game tomorrow in NYC and have an unsure situation with Marcus Johansson, who is having a hearing with the Department of Player Safety this evening.

Catch your breath?  Same here!

A little over two hours from faceoff and here is your lineup as the Bears and Amerks play their 450th all-time game, with Erik Burgdoerfer expected to wear the “A” on defense tonight and the placement of the Bears’ two newly-named All-Stars, Chris Bourque and Connor Carrick:

Bourque-Boyd-Barber
Collins-Camper-Brown
O’Brien-Walker-Mitchell
Gazley-Reid-Herbert

Djoos-Burgdoerfer
Carrick-Lewington
Shea-Bowey

Ellis

This team has faced adversity and adjustment several times this season, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it handles tonight.  The coaching staff deserves the utmost praise for how they handled this week… so far.

We will have a special extended pre-game show tonight with the Amerks’ ceremony taking place prior to puck drop.  A crowd of well over 9,000 is expected, which will only make this a fun Friday night of hockey.

Enjoy the broadcast… and GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc