Entering his second year as a professional, Garret Pilon will asked to provide more of a leadership roll for the Hershey Bears this season. Pilon was just one of four players selected by the team to meet with the media at the team’s annual inaugural media scrum (media day) on Monday. The newly acquired Dillon Fox (Hummelstown, PA) and Casey Bailey (Penn State) provided the local flavor for fans, while Pilon, along with seasoned AHL and NHL veteran Matt Moulson, represented the veteran leadership.
Pilon was asked how he feels entering his second year as a pro. “A lot more confident, I think. Last year a lot of us young guys were getting used to everything, everything was a little new to us. I think coming into it now, I think a lot of us got to bring confidence to camp, from the season last year.”
Pilon, 21, was drafted by the Capitals in the third round (#87 overall) of the 2016 NHL entry draft, and signed a three-year entry-level contract on March 30th, 2017. He feels the first year in the AHL has taught him how to be a professional.
“I think it teaches a lot of us young guys how to be pros. When we were in juniors, you gain some knowledge, but I think being around older guys who have been in the league (AHL), what they have gone through, you watch their pregame, how they do stuff, it’s just kinda learning from that.”
For the Bears, it was a tale of two years last season. A very poor start in the fall of 2018 was followed by an instant turnaround and corresponding hot streak which started at the beginning of 2019, ending with a second round playoff loss to the eventual Calder Cup champions, the Charlotte Checkers.
But “Peels” learned from the roller coaster season. “I guess it’s just trying to be a little more consistent. Obviously we had a pretty good run and that’s a great thing, but you don’t want to start out in the gutter. You want to be consistent your whole season, and carry that on through the playoffs.”
Bears head coach Spencer Carbery addressed the team Sunday night before Monday’s first full day of camp. In the meeting Carbery stressed to his team the importance of focusing on starting fast this season. Pilon was asked what that means from a players perspective.
“I think it’s come out with that tempo right out of the gate and having the mentality of knowing what happened last year, and not letting it happen again. I think a lot of us are a lot more comfortable as well.”
Pilon was asked how long it took for him to put Charlotte in the rear view. “I think obviously it was a tough one to bite, particularly coming off the big series with Bridgeport. It was obviously a setback for us, but motivation going into the summer. Long summers are not what you want, but at the same time, there is more time to train, more time to get ready for next season.”
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By Jon Sorensen