“Anytime You Can Score A Goal…It Sparks the Team”: Capitals 2019 First-Round Pick Connor McMichael Scores First Professional Hat Trick Against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Hershey Bears

Having already made his NHL debut earlier this season, Washington Capitals 2019 first-round pick and top prospect Connor McMichael crossed off another milestone on his professional career, recording a hat trick in the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears’ 3-1 victory over the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday afternoon.

McMichael’s first goal came in the first half of the first period, scoring his second of the 2020-21 season at the 8:39 mark of the opening frame.

The second goal of the contest came in the second period just over one minute into the frame, when McMichael found himself all alone on the Penguins’ net:

The goal that completed the hat trick came in the simplest of ways, an empty-net goal in the closing minutes of the third period, giving McMichael his fourth of the season.

McMichael, who is playing with the Bears due to the Junior leagues having yet to return to play, finished the game with five shots on net and a plus-2 rating. After the game, McMichael spoke with the media, and was asked about his hat trick and playing at the professional level.

McMichael revealed the biggest lesson he has learned since spending time with both the Bears and Capitals has been the “pro-mentality”, saying, “I think just the pro experience, playing against better players, bigger, stronger guys, so if I do end up back in juniors, it’ll be a real cool experience for me playing at this pace and hoping I can continue to play at that pace if I go back to London or stay here”.

The 20-year old forward added, “Coming to practice everyday, seeing guys like [Bears captain Matt Moulson] ‘Mouls’ especially, a veteran in the NHL, learning from guys who have been here awhile and just working on that pro game and gaining all the experience from guys like Mouls”.

McMichael talked about his unassisted goal, his second of the game, and how it impacted the team. The 25th overall pick in 2019 answered, “Anytime you can score a goal, unassisted or not, it sparks the team, same thing if you get a big hit or big blocked shot it really sparks the team, anytime you can score a big goal for the team, the guys were really happy for me and I had a lot of fun doing it so I’m glad I could chip in”.

Bears Head Coach Spencer Carbery also spoke about McMichael’s performance, which earned him First Star of the Game honors. He had high praise for the young forward, touching on what benefits playing in the AHL is giving to his young player. He said, “It’s difficult to in the time when you’re in the OHL, a win-now league, you have this gifted, first-round pick Connor McMichael, and unfortunately he gets the least of your teaching as a coach in the OHL because he’s elite and he can go out there and he’s going to get two and one…It’s such a benefit for him now to come here and now it’s a whole different realm of players. You’ve got all the best players in the world in the second-best league in the world and now he’s got to play with detail, now he’s got to be in good spots, now he’s got to back-check in every single situation, now he’s got to be way harder on the puck because he’s up against 20-to-30 year old men. So there is just so many benefits to him getting a taste of this early…”

McMichael now has four goals in five games this season. The Bears now hold a record of 3-0-2-0 in five games. The Chocolate and White are next in action on Wednesday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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4 Responses to “Anytime You Can Score A Goal…It Sparks the Team”: Capitals 2019 First-Round Pick Connor McMichael Scores First Professional Hat Trick Against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

  1. Anonymous says:

    I want to see this kid up here soon…

  2. Novafyre says:

    Bears announcers said that the OHL might actually have a season, so I spent the morning trying to find out the OHL/AHL/NHL transfer details — and failed. Bears announcers said that McMichael would have to go back to the OHL if they do resume. I thought I had read that in a normal year, McMichael could play for the NHL but not the AHL. If this is true, then he could go up to the Caps instead. Could someone either explain the rules or point me in the right direction?

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