Well now, with all of the Shattenkirk/Copley trade hype, perhaps one is in need of a gentle reminder that the Bears played, rather successfully, three games last weekend. As with our new tradition, we’ve selected the three Hershey skaters who, in our opinion, were the stars of the week. Without any further ado (because there’s been quite a bit of that this week already), meet our picks. And you’ll easily recognize them – Christian Djoos, Liam O’Brien, and Chris Bourque.
Star Number 1 – Christian Djoos – 1G, 4A
A five-point weekend from a defenseman should attract immediate attention, but this kid has been getting things done all season for Hershey. Djoos registered his lone goal in Bridgeport Sunday in Hershey’s 2-1 loss to the Sound Tigers.
A bit of a Dmitry Orlov-type of defenseman, Djoos is not afraid to let shots fly. He has nine goals on the season so far for Hershey and 29 assists. This has been, to date, his best offensive season of his career.
Currently fourth on the team in points and fourth in the league among defensemen, he’s averaging .81 points per game. Picking up five points in three games this past weekend has him inching closer to the point-per-game mark. Did you catch the part about him being a defenseman?
The second year player has made remarkable strides from his rookie season, where he helped his team to the Calder Cup Finals, but he is often overshadowed by teammate Madison Bowey. With Bowey out long-term with an injury, it’s Djoos’ turn to shine, and to date, he hasn’t let the fans down. Hershey, can we get a “Djjjoooooossssss!” chant?
Second Star – Liam O’Brien – 2G, 1A
Liam O’Brien is no stranger to Caps fans. Heck, he’s rocked the red. But with the amount of talent at the forward position in Washington, O’Brien was relegated to Hershey. While inconsistent play and unwise errors have haunted O’Brien, it’s good to see him get his offense going. After all, a smiling O’Brien means happy fans and happy coaches.
This past weekend, O’Brien, who is 9th on the team in points with 25, notched a pair of goals including the game-winner over Toronto Saturday night at Giant Center. To date, he has eight goals and 17 assists, but that none have been bigger than the one against the Marlies.
Aside from the game-winner, O’Brien, along with Vitek Vanecek, assisted on Travis Boyd’s goal right before he scored Friday against Hartford to make it 5-0 Hershey.
Third Star – Chris Bourque – 1G, 2A
Finally – Hershey fans have been waiting for Bourque to make a little noise. So far this year, Bourque has, rather quietly, led the team in points, but has been overshadowed weekly by the performances of teammates like Stan Galiev’s hat-trick, Paul Carey’s remarkable scoring streak, or Djoos’ 5-point performance.
Bourque’s goal this week came on the powerplay Saturday night and was the catalyst for Hershey’s comeback victory. Trailing 3-1, Bourque’s goal and subsequent assist on Darren Dietz’s goal helped the Bears tie the game. His other assist came Friday night on Hershey’s final goal by Stan Galiev in their 6-1 victory over Hartford.
One of two Hershey All-Stars, many had hoped that his offensive production would rise dramatically. After 56 games, he has 48 points (16 G, 32 A), good enough to lead the Bears and put him 5th in the league. But it just hasn’t been as flashy as previous years, a definite testament to the ability of this team to put up points.
With the trade deadline passed, here’s a preview of the new guys in town.
Phoenix Copley – Welcome back! There was so much excitement over Copley’s return, the Bears held a press conference Tuesday. While we were not able to get anyone there (Tori and I grudgingly went to our day jobs, but we were there in spirit), here’s the video from the Bears of his presser.
Many in Hershey were very sad to see Copley go, but understood the move the Caps made and why. Mann said that Copley would start Friday night in Syracuse and they’d go from there. He’s projected to be the workhorse the rest of the season with Vitek’s starts being managed much the same was as Copley’s were before the trade. Hershey fans should see Copley in net either Saturday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Sunday against Springfield.
Also this week, the Bears welcomed another defenseman, Cody Corbett. Per a press release by the Bears, the 23-year-old has split time this season between the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. He has ten (2G, 8A) points in 23 AHL contests and five (2G, 3A) points in seven ECHL games. It is unclear when Hershey fans will see Corbett as they currently have eight healthy defensemen (Madison Bowey is still out with an injury). In the past, Mann has been known to go with seven defensemen in a game, so perhaps Bears fans will see that sometime this season, especially since they are thin at the forward position thanks to recalls of Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey (Riley Barber was returned to Hershey).
The lack of depth at forward has also been caused by injuries to Nathan Walker and Dustin Gazley. Both should be making a return soon, but in the meantime, Domenic Monardo has been recalled from South Carolina. Monardo skated with the Bears in eight games so far this season and should see game action this weekend.
By Julie Beidler