When watching the video of Bears captain Garrett Mitchell being told he was getting his first NHL call-up, you could feel the emotion coming through whatever screen you were looking at, even though there might not have been much excitement on Mitchell’s face. “When I look at the video, even my wife goes ‘You don’t look that excited,'” said Mitchell. “Honestly, I could have started crying right there. I couldn’t have been more excited.
“I didn’t know it was coming. Once [Troy Mann] said Chandler [Stephenson’s] name, I was kind of like ‘Oh man.’ I was very happy for Chandler, but that’s always something you hope might be you. But then he goes ‘He’s been waiting for six years…’
“That’s been my childhood dream my whole life. I was trying to process what was going on. It was such a cool thing.”
“I met Mitchy in 2009-10 when he came in as a young rookie,” said Mann. “We went on to win the Calder Cup that year, and he was a part of the scratches we see come in every year. It was a very cool moment for me as well. I thought it was important to announce it to the team. Normally we just call guys in and say ‘Hey, you’re going up to play tomorrow.’ But I felt based on just what he means to the organization, and the fact I’ve had the pleasure of coaching him for six years, it would be real nice and special to announce it to the team.”
That team just came off of one of the more emotional weeks you will see from an AHL team. After being swept the weekend before, Hershey went 3-0, with an overtime win against Lehigh Valley and a goal coming with less than ten seconds left in the third period against Toronto to take back control of their race to the Calder Cup Playoffs. Those big wins, combined with the recall of their captain to the NHL, give the Bears a nice high before heading into one of the toughest parts of their season.
“We know what we have ahead of us here this next weekend,” Mitchell said. “To win in Rochester, and then to win in Toronto with eight seconds left, it just seals that we control our own faith now.”
“Our division is so good this year, you just have to get in,” said Mann. “It’s not ideal to not have home ice advantage and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, we have to continue to do what we did last week. Those six points gave us the ability to control our own destiny.
“We’ve got two big games against the two best teams in the division and conference, and it’s going to be a heck of a battle this weekend.”
And as the Bears prepare fo battle, that sense of enthusiasm was echoed by Mitchell. “I’m excited, I know the guys are excited, and now we control our own destiny.”