Hershey update: 36-18-4-7, 2nd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-1-0
The Hershey Bears dropped to second place in the Atlantic Division this week with two losses to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Bears then proceeded to vent their frustration onto Lehigh Valley with an 8-0 win. It was the largest margin of victory in the team's history.
With 15 goals in three games, many of the Bears' top players put up some pretty impressive numbers over the week. Both Jakub Vrana (three points) and Travis Boyd (four points) recorded at least one point in each game. Nathan Walker continued his push to become the first Australian to play in the NHL with four points. For those who are not familiar with his story, the York Daily Record published a profile on him detailing how he got to this point in his career. As you would expect, it was quite the journey as Australia is not known for its hockey leagues.
Defenseman Madison Bowey also had a big week with four points. He remains quite clearly the Capitals' best defensive prospect. Here's a profile by Scott Seningen of The Hockey Writers on Bowey published last week. In it, Seningen writes, "[Bowey] will most likely be in the AHL one more season, or at least, part of it before we see him in a Capitals uniform during the regular season."
Most projections on Bowey from this season seem to agree. Given the Capitals' depth on the blue line, I believe he will impress this summer and push for a roster spot, but will ultimately start the season in Hershey. With no Connor Carrick in front of him, however, Bowey will be among the top candidates to be called up in case of injury and I believe he will make his NHL debut at some point next season.
Another top defensive prospect, Jonas Siegenthaler, made his AHL debut on Wednesday in Hershey's win over Lehigh Valley. He tallied one assist. Forward Kevin Elgestal who was added to the roster the same time as Siegenthaler has not yet played for the Bears.
Riley Barber continues to pad his stats with a goal and two assists over the week. Barber has really shined of late and has become one of the team's top offensive weapons, but it took some time for him to develop over the course of his rookie season. Check out this article from Lancaster Online detailing Barber's first professional season.
Other prospect notes:
As the playoffs near for the NHL, several of the Caps prospects have already begun their postseason tournaments. The collegiate season will continue for Thomas DiPauli (Notre Dame), Shave Gersich (North Dakota), Brian Pinho (Providence) and Zach Sanford (Boston College) as each of their teams have made the NCAA Tournament. Games begin on Friday and the Frozen Four will take place starting on April 7.
Tim McGauley's Brandon Wheat Kings finished as the top team in the Eastern Conference in the WHL. For the season, McGauley finished with 49 points in 51 games. He will be joined in the playoffs by Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams of the Regina Pats who qualified as a wild card team.
Hobbs tallied 41 points and was named Regina's top defenseman in the team's postseason awards. Williams finished a tough regular season with 12 points in just 19 games. This will be his final season in the WHL, but he has not had any time to reflect as he has been battling with injuries all season long.
My best guess for Williams' future would be that we will see him in South Carolina next season in the ECHL. The wrist injury he has been dealing with since the summer remains a major concern and I believe he has a lot to prove in his first professional season before he gets a shot in the AHL.
If Williams does go to the ECHL, it will definitely be with South Carolina as the Caps announced on Monday they had extended their affiliation agreement with the Stingrays through the 2017-18 season. Three Caps draft picks have played with South Carolina this season including goalie Vitek Vanecek. Caleb Herbert was also reassigned to the Stingrays by Hershey on Thursday.
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