The Hershey Bears wrapped up their regular season schedule on Saturday night at Giant Center with a 3-0 win over the Providence Bruins and locked in a first round playoff series with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms beginning on Friday.
The Bears had inserted different players into the lineup after playing with the same lineup during its road trip. Tonight’s game saw Dustin Gazley play his third game of the season, Mattias Backman on the blue line, and forward Christian Thomas see their first games since that stretch. Vitek Vanecek also made his first start since March 18 after Pheonix Copley started ten straight games.
It took 75 games and some help from the Springfield Thunderbirds, but the Hershey Bears can finally say they are playoff bound after taking a 2-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night. Hershey faces Providence tomorrow with a chance to alter their first round opponent, which currently is the same Penguins team they faced tonight. A win would have them facing Lehigh Valley.
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…’
If you were writing a movie about Garrett Mitchell’s journey to the NHL, this would be the closing shot.
After Mitchell’s call up to the NHL Sunday, he got the rookie treatment by having to skate a lap alone in warm-ups and had to start the game by being forced by Nicklas Backstrom to take the opening faceoff. But after the game might be the most appropriate part of the entire night.
If you can’t tell, we’re super excited to see Bears captain Garrett Mitchell make his NHL debut Sunday night, and we think you are too. We’ve put together this mega post with everything related to Mitchell’s NHL debut and will be updating it throughout the game.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 9, 2017
In his pregame interview with the Washington media, Garrett Mitchell was visibly emotional. Hershey’s captain was less than 24 hours removed from being told by Bears head coach Troy Mann that he will finally be called up to the NHL after over a half a decade with the Chocolate and White.
After over 350 AHL games, and parts of eight seasons in Hershey, Garrett Mitchell has finally made it to the NHL.
Days after clinching the President’s Trophy, the Capitals rewarded the Bears captain with his first call-up almost eight years after being drafted by the organization. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has only played in a limited number of preseason games for the Capitals in his career, and never an NHL regular season game. Sunday night that should all change.
Photo: Hershey Bears on Facebook
Another day, another clutch win for the Hershey Bears. After taking the game in Rochester, the Bears were in Toronto on Saturday evening to take on the Marlies for the first time in Toronto since the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bears rebounded after a controversial goal tied the game, and Chandler Stephenson’s first goal since February 10 with 8.5 seconds left got the Bears their biggest win to date, 2-1.
With eleven minutes remaining in the third period, it looked like the end for the Hershey Bears. The team had surrendered an early 1-0 lead and trailed for the first time in the game to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and in the midst of a critical last five games for Hershey, the team needed a comeback.
The Bears needed a perfect goal to solve Phantoms goaltender Alex Lyon, and they got it with a goal five minutes later from Riley Barber. The game would go to overtime when Travis Boyd got around the defense and roofed a shot that went in and out in a flash to get the Bears a critical 3-2 win.
Since the announcement made Monday afternoon by the National Hockey League that they will not include a stoppage in their 2017-18 season for the 2018 Olympics, speculation has begun on how national teams will fill their rosters for the twenty-third winter Olympiad. Many eyes have turned to the American Hockey League, the second highest level of professional hockey in the entire world.
With thirty teams, the league provides a developmental territory for players heading to the NHL, along with a place for veterans of the game to continue to play at a high level in North America.