Hershey update: 0-2-0-0, 7th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 0-2-0-0
After reaching the Calder Cup Finals last year, the Hershey Bears have gotten off to a slow start with two losses to start the season.
Jakub Vrana scored twice in the team's opener against Rochester. The Capitals gave Vrana every chance to make the roster out of training camp, but he showed in the preseason that he still had more work to do in terms of his development.
Vrana's scoring potential was never in doubt, but in the preseason he struggled with puck distribution. He would frequently carry the puck into the offensive zone and get boxed out to the side by the defense and end up dumping the puck or turning it over. He needs to be more aware of where his teammates are and pass the puck before the defense takes away his options.
A two-goal performance is good, but his scoring potential is not the issue. At this point, it's more important he learn how to distribute the puck.
Madison Bowey flashed his skill in the team's opening game with a pretty assist to set up Hubert Labrie.
Paul Carey picked up a loose puck in the corner and turned back to the top of the face-off circle looking for someone to pass to. That's when Bowey stepped up into the play. He found a seam in the defense and brought the puck to the top of the crease before chipping it over to Labrie for the tap-in.
Bowey's offensive acumen is one of his biggest assets. He has a knack for knowing just when to step into the play in the offensive zone and this was a perfect example.
Forward Nathan Walker also managed an assist in the game. If he gets called up to the Caps this season, something that is a distinct possibility considering his impressive preseason, he will become the first Australian to play in the NHL. Penn Live wrote an article about what Walker has done for the popularity of the sport in Australia. You can read it here.
Goalie Vitek Vanecek started in Hershey's second game, a 3-0 loss to Binghamton. He stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in the effort, fairing better than teammate Joe Cannata who made only seven saves while allowing five goals in the opener.
Other prospect notes:
Jonas Siegenthaler was expected to play in Hershey this season, but he has gone back to his native Switzerland and will play instead for the ZSC Lions. Caps head coach Barry Trotz said during camp that the Swiss prospect was dealing with family issues. In an appearance on the Old Barn Hockey Show, Hershey general manager Bryan Helmer said of Siegenthaler's departure that "he wanted to go back, his dad had some health issues."
There was a scary moment for 2016 draft pick Chase Priskie on Wednesday as he was forced to leave Quinnipiac's game against UConn after taking a dangerous hit from San Jose prospect Max Letunov.
Chip Malafronte of the New Haven Register described the scene:
Letunov sent Priskie head first into the boards midway through the first period. Priskie lay motionless for a moment before finding his way to his knees. He was bleeding badly from the forehead, leaving a grisly pool of blood on the ice after he was helped to the locker room by Quinnipiac trainers.
Priskie did not return to the game. As of Thursday morning there were no updates on his condition.
Priskie has scored three points in five games this season, including a highlight reel breakaway goal against Northeastern.
Other prospects who have enjoyed promising starts to the season are Shane Gersich (2 goals, 2 assists in three games for the University of North Dakota), Connor Hobbs (2 goals, 6 assists in eight games for Regina of the WHL) who looks none the worse for wear after taking a rough boarding hit from Andrew Shaw in the preseason and Lucas Johansen who scored the overtime winner for Kelowna on Wednesday.
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