Bottom of the barrel. A lonely place to be for sure. But that’s where the Bears power play resided earlier this month. They were dead last (31st in the AHL), going a dismal 8 for 89 and dropping to a season low 8.9% percent efficiency.
Luckily for the Bears, their power play misfortunes turned around against Lehigh Valley on December 7th. Mike Sgarbossa would end a lengthy power play scoring drought with a power play goal in the second period, the only score of the game. It was also defenseman Bobby Nardella’s first game back from injury.
Mike Sgarbossa breaks the Bears’ power play goal drought with a tally late in the second period. Bears lead 1-0. pic.twitter.com/YB2TMgflIl
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) December 8, 2019
Bobby Nardella returned to the Bears lineup on December 7th, after being out for over a month with a upper body injury. Since his return to the power play, the Bears have scored power play goals in four straight games.
Nardella extended the streak to four straight games himself on Sunday with a power play goal of his own in a 3-1 win over Lehigh Valley. It was also his first AHL goal.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) December 16, 2019
Since Nardella’s return, the Bears have climbed out of the basement and are now 27th in the AHL with a 12.2% efficiency.
Some may call it coincidence that the Bears struggling power play was turned around in the same game in which Bobby Nardella returned from injury. However, following the Bears 3-2 overtime win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday, December 8th, Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery was asked what he felt was the key to the turnaround of the Bears power play.
Carbery was again asked about the Bears recent power play success on Sunday night following the Bears 3-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Last spring Nardella, 23, completed his Senior season at Norte Dame, compiling eight goals and 26 assists in 38 games played. He led the Irish in points (38), points per game played (0.89), and shots (103).
Nardella wrapped up his collegiate career on March 30th. The Capitals would quickly ink the 5’-9” left shot defenseman to a two-year entry-level contract six days later on April 5th. Nardella would subsequently sign an amateur tryout (ATO) agreement with the Bears on April 8th. He would see action in two games before the Bears season came to a close.
So far this season Nardella, a native of Rosemont, Illinois, has a goal and five assists in just seven games played, and secured a regular starting spot on the Bears blue line. He’s played in less than 10 AHL games and is already having a pretty good impact.
Nardella, coupled with fellow 2019 collegiate graduate Joe Snively have been impressive in their extremely limited number of pro games, but it goes to show undrafted collegiate players can be make an impact.