Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hershey Bears Team Preview

Me again, here, guys, your lonely AHL correospondant with an overview of the Baby Caps in Hershey.  When the big team rips through your boys like a chipper-shredder left to its own devices, you'll thank me for knowing where they came from :-)


One of the biggest issues the Bears had last year was consistant veteran leadership, both on and off. Captain Dean Arsene fell to injury before the season even started and never quite got back, Freddy Cassivi was stuck in goal, Louie Robitialle was, well, Louie, and acting captain Quintin Laing went up to the big team and never came back, just like our head coach. This year, though, we're veritably stacked on veterans. As of the offseason, we also have returning Graham Mink, a member of the Calder Cup team, and new veterans Keith Aucoin and Bryan Helmer. Along with our just-waiver-cleared Quintin Laing, there's absolutley no comparing the leadership on this team to where it was last year. Even if we lose one vet to injury, there's another to step up and motivate the babies.

Being an AHL team, the roster's never really fixed, but the one we seem to be starting with is nothing short of killer. 

On defense, not only did we luck out with the return of Arsene and his ferocious ass-hits, we also retain Sami Lepsito for the time being, (our version of Mike Green), Josh Godfrey (who had a hat trick in the final pre-season game) and perhaps most excitingly, we also got Karl Alzner, who's been heralded as the Second Coming of Defence Christ for a good long while now. 


Our forward lines are just as ridiculous, fielding Chris Bourque and Jay Beagle, who barely missed making the big team out of camp this year, Andrew Gordon, who had as many points as he had games last year, and the continued play of Francoise Bouchard and Mathieu Perreault, two QMJHL stars. Oskar Osala never met a puck (or a fight) he didn't like, and between him and Kyle Wilson, I don't see the Bears having the same 'hesistance to shoot'issue they had last year. 

The Washington Capitals are really to thank for the goalie situation as well. Simeon Varlamov, the 23rd overall draftee in '06, and Michael Neuvirth, 34th draftee in '06 are currently in Hershey, but they've come up against some stiff competition for roster spots in the form of Daren Machesney, only a second year AHL player, but a star OHL player, and for a while last year when Cassivi was with the Caps, one of the top ten AHL goalies. 

Honestly, I think it's going to take until a few weeks into the season to see where the holes are on this team. on paper and in preseason they look virtually unstoppable. Against the WBS Pens, who knocked them out of the Calder Cup run in 5 games last season, the Bears pounded out an 8-2 victory to close preseason. 

Of course, in the AHL there's also the good chance you'll lose people to the big team, and when that happens, it's going to be the young guns gone first- Bourque, Beagle, Alzner and Lepisto will go missing, and it'll be interesting to see what the team does after that. If reviews of the Washington Capitals heralding them as a 'ridiculously deep' team are to be believed, the depth storage unit in Hershey will have no trouble at all. 

1 comment:

pepper said...

When all the WBS Penguins have to hang their hats on is that one of their guys had a good scrap, amidst an 8-2 beating, you know you're on to something.

http://www.timesleader.com/sports/Scraps_against_Bears_lead_to_Penguins_rsquo__team_unity_10-07-2008.html

That was straight outta Slap Shot -

"The fans are standing up to them! The security guards are standing up to them! The peanut vendors are standing up to them! And by golly, if I could get down there, I'd be standing up to them!"