Hershey update: 30-15-3-7, 2nd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 2-1-0-0
It was another successful week for Hershey who won two out of three games. Since the start of 2016, the Bears have only four regulation losses. Their recent hot streak has a lot to do with the fantastic play of forwards Riley Barber and Nathan Walker.
Barber scored two goals and three assists in Hershey's three games and is currently riding a 10-game point streak (10 goals, 10 assists). He is now in the top 20 in the AHL in points and third among rookies with 41.
Walker meanwhile scored two goals and now has 15 points in 2016.
Obviously it's important for teams to draft well in the first and second rounds, but teams cannot replenish their rosters just on the top picks alone; finding talent in the later rounds is important as well. Barber was a sixth-round pick in 2012 and Walker a third-round pick in 2014. If either player can develop into full-time NHL players, they will be considered steals.
Check out the highlights from Saturday's 3-2 win over Providence in which Barber tallied a goal and an assist and Walker scored the game-winner:
Other than Barber and Walker, watch the hit Connor Carrick laid on Providence's Noel Acciari. Acciari is listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds. With one of the major question marks about Carrick's NHL potential being his physicality, it's good to see him try to add a physical edge to his game though he needs to keep that elbow down.
The addition of Scott Gomez has clearly been a major boon for the young players in Hershey. In 16 games with the Bears, he has four goals and 19 assist and the team is playing great with him in the lineup.
Barry Trotz was in attendance for Hershey's game on Sunday and though it was a 6-3 to Providence, the Caps' coach walked away impressed with what he saw.
“Some young guys that are developing – you also see that up front. You’ve got veteran guys like [Chris] Bourque, you’ve got younger guys like Nathan Walker. I felt [Walker] was very effective all night. You’ve got great veteran guys like Zach Sill playing with Liam O’Brien. We’ve got a good combination of veteran players and developing young players.”
Trotz also spoke about the development of the team's young players saying, "We would like to leave some of the young guys here for a couple years to develop and mature the right way. I think we are trying to build a roster systematically, mirroring the systems of Hershey and Washington, even with the way we teach terminology.”
It was a very interesting week for defenseman Tyler Lewington who was assigned to South Carolina of the ECHL on Saturday. He tallied three assists in two games with the Stingrays and then was recalled back to Hershey on Tuesday. He came back just in time to record another assist in Hershey's 4-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Finally, TSS is unveiling their top 100 NHL prospects and Jakub Vrana came in at No. 62. Vrana is the first Cap to make the list. According to the analysis, "Vrana has a fantastic wrist shot with a plus plus release. He is also skilled at finding gaps in coverage from which to strike."
Be sure to check out the full scouting report.
Other prospect notes:
A fun story this week out of Regina as Connor Hobbs had a four-point night on Friday in a 7-5 win over Kootenay. Not only did he score a hat trick, but it also came against his brother, Declan, who plays goalie for Kootenay.
What becomes quickly evident is that Hobbs has tremendous offensive instincts. His first two goals came as a result of him stepping up into the offensive play deep in the zone. On the third goal, you can see him setup to shoot, but he stops when he realizes he is open and takes a few steps towards the net before firing the nice wrister to beat his brother short-side.
What you also see, however, is a lot of odd-man rushes for Kootenay where Hobbs is sprinting back trailing the play. While his offensive instincts seem to be on point (18 goals, 18 assists in 47 games), he gets caught too far up at times leading to odd-man breaks.
Hobbs' defensive acumen is something he will have to develop in the ECHL or AHL. If you take a look at Regina's score lines, playing defense seems to be largely optional in the WHL.
Tim McGauley also had a big offensive night for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL with a three-point performance on Friday against Edmonton.
In the ECHL, South Carolina went 4-0 on the week. Caleb Herbert scored three goals while Vitek Vanecek turned aside 60 of 62 shots in the two games he played.
In Sunday's win, Vanecek wore the Golden Goalie jersey as he was named the Golden Goalie for South Carolina back in January.
A photo posted by South Carolina Stingrays (@scstingrayshockey) on Feb 21, 2016 at 12:05pm PST
Ilya Samsonov, the Caps' first-round pick from the 2015 draft, was interviewed by a member o the Metallurg Magnitogorsk press club about the World Junior Hockey Championships. You can read a translated transcript of the interview here on Nova Caps.
Prospects Thomas DiPauli and Brian Pinho faced off as Notre Dame took on Providence over the weekend in a two-game series. Pinho's Friars got the better of the Irish as Providence won both games and Pinho walked away with two points. DiPauli had several opportunities, but failed to find his way onto the score sheet.