Hershey update: 17-6-5-2, 3rd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-0-1-0

Zach Sanford was reassigned to the Hershey Bears on Wednesday morning and suited up for Wednesday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. He recorded one shot on goal.

Whenever highly touted prospects are recalled to the NHL and don’t see much playing time, it can be a bit of a touchy subject. No one wants to see a prospect’s development stunted by sitting and watching from the press box.

Whacky moves always get made around the Christmas roster freeze, however. With the Bears off for a week, Washington elected to bring Sanford up to get some practice time rather than have him just sit at home. Now that Hershey is back in action, it was no surprise to see Sanford sent back to the AHL.

The Bears reassigned Tim McGauley to South Carolina of the ECHL on Monday. In two games with the Stingrays this week, he recorded an assist in each game.

Veteran NHLer Steve Downie unleashed a Twitter rant on Friday against his former team, the Arizona Coyotes. Hershey forward Christian Thomas was mentioned as Downie blamed Thomas’ injury last season on the club.

Here is what Downie had to say regarding Thomas:

Thomas recorded two goals and an assist in Hershey’s two games over the week.

RELATED: Penalties holding Caps back in tough division

Other prospect notes:

The IIHF World Junior Championship is underway in Canada. Games began on Monday. Three Caps prospects are participating with goalie Ilya Samsonov playing for Russia and forward Damien Riat and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler playing for Switzerland. Riat and Siegenthaler were both named alternate captains for the Swiss team.

Samsonov’s tournament got off to a rough start as Russia opened with a 5-3 loss to Canada. The young netminder allowed five goals on the 37 shots.

Here are the highlights:

That’s not a great stat line for Samsonov, but there are a few things to consider. The World Cup of Hockey highlighted that Russia does not seem to be developing many defensemen. That was evident as Samsonov was given little help against the host nation. Of the five goals allowed, only one of them, the third goal, was one I thought he should have saved.

Samsonov did not start Russia’s second game, a 9-1 win over Latvia, but before you read too much into that bear in mind that Russia head coach Valeri Bragin switched his goalies seemingly at random in last year’s tournament. Samsonov started in the semifinal against USA, but was replaced in the final despite only giving up one goal on 27 shots. Samsonov will almost certainly see the ice again at some point this tournament given the incredible season he is having in the KHL (12-1-3 record, one shutout, 2.06 goals-against average, .936 save percentage).

Russia’s next two games will be Thursday against USA and Saturday against Slovakia.

Switzerland opened its tournament on a high note with a 4-3 overtime win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday thanks to big contributions from both from Riat and Siegenthaler. 

Riat scored a goal and two assists including one to setup up the breakaway goal in overtime. Siegenthaler, meanwhile, led all skaters in ice time with 26:36 and was named Switzerland's Best Player of the Game. He also added an assist on Riat’s goal.

You can watch the highlights below. Riat’s goal was Swizterland’s third of the game, a mean wrister he rifled through traffic and into the top corner of the net.

Both players continued their strong play on Wednesday in Switzerland’s 4-2 loss to Sweden. Siegenthaler again led all skaters with 25:14 of ice time and added a goal and an assist to boot. Riat assisted on Siegenthaler's goal.

You can see the highlights here:

Switzerland returns to action on Friday against Denmark and on Saturday against Finland.

With college play about to resume after the holiday break, Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald named Shane Gersich North Dakota team MVP in his midseason awards.

Schlossman writes:

The sophomore forward leads the NCHC in total points with 24 and he's tied for the national lead in biggest point increase from last season (plus-13).

A year ago, Gersich had a knack for scoring goals around the crease area on rebounds and loose pucks. He's still doing that this season, but he's also scoring on wrist shots, one-timers and by using his speed to beat defensemen wide and carrying it to the net.

Goalie Adam Carlson did not play in any of South Carolina’s three games over the week. He was expected to start on Tuesday, but was declared a late scratch.

Carlson served as backup Tuesday, but was not on the bench for Wednesday’s game. His current status is unclear.

MORE CAPITALS: Effort wasn't there, but Caps liked how they crashed the net