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Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Kyle Mace

Washington Capitals 2012 first-round pick Tom Wilson has played just two games for the Hershey Bears, but he’s already made a huge impact. After scoring 9 goals (including a hat trick) and 17 points in 12 playoff games with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, Wilson scored his first professional goal on Sunday for the Hershey Bears. And it happened because he got under the skin of 2011-12 AHL leading scorer Chris Bourque.

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View video of the play here. (GIF by welshhockeyfan)

Early in the second period, Wilson — skating on Hershey’s fourth line — decked the former Capitals draft pick along the boards. Bourque responded by tripping Wilson to the ice, which drew a power play for Hershey.

Video via welshhockeyfan

Bourque and Wilson met again late in the third period. Wilson once again knocked Bourque over after the diminutive forward passed away the puck. Both players got matching minors, Wilson for interference and Bourque for unsportsmanlike conduct (diving).

I nominate this for goal call of the year by the way. It begins at the 4:03 mark. (Video via The Hershey Bears)

When the two penalties expired, the Bears controlled the puck in Providence’s offensive zone. Wilson sprinted towards the net as Julien Brouillette unleashed a shot from the point. Wilson beat the speedy Bourque to the rebound, giving Hershey the lead for the first time and nearly giving Scott Stuccio, the voice of the Bears, an aneurysm.

The goal would have stood up as the game-winner, but the Bears wilted during the stretch, losing to the number one-seeded Providence 5-4 and forcing a fifth and decisive game on Wednesday.

Regardless of the outcome, Hershey Bears Head Coach Mark French was excited about the expanded role Wilson earned in his first two professional games over the weekend.

“I thought Wilson was really good,” French said after the game. “[Saturday] night, his first pro game, we monitored his minutes a little bit. He played about 10. And [Sunday] I thought he looked good again. We elevated him in our line combinations and he responded to that.”

When I asked French about how Wilson, a prospect known for his size, won a foot-race with one of the quickest players on Providence for his goal, French gushed. “I think that’s the reason why people are so high on him,” he said. “He’s obviously got the size and for a big guy he uses it. But as you mentioned, he’s got some underrated speed and puck skills. I think that’s the combination that everybody’s excited about.”

As the game went along, Wilson could also be seen getting into the game another way. Standing on the Hershey bench, Wilson constantly yapped at Providence Bruins players as they came back. He also got in a verbal sparring match with Chris Bourque while in the penalty box. French appreciated the sandpaper Wilson brought to the game.

“He gets involved!,” French exclaimed. “You know, it’s funny because when we had him in Development Camp, there was a part of his game where he liked to get involved in the discussion. I didn’t see it much [Saturday] night, but I assume with him being a little bit more comfortable, he got involved.”

Yes, yes he did. After seeing Wilson’s big night tonight, I would not be surprised if he makes the Capitals out of training camp next season. Despite only being 19-years-old, Wilson is a fiery competitor who skates really well and has good hands. His physical game can be game-changing.

Additional Photos

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Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Kyle Mace

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  • lrhflute

    I love Tom Wilson! He’s my favorite player of the future! I can’t wait till he’s on the Caps, but I’m super excited that he’s getting the opportunity to play for the Bears!! :-D

  • Donkey0

    Anyone else look at their facebook?

  • http://twitter.com/SackOfOwls Steven Barrett

    Hopefully Erat let’s him tree take #10.

  • http://twitter.com/mattymatty2000 Matthew Kory

    Sounds awesome. I can’t wait until we trade him!

    (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

  • Chris

    GM should trade Wilson for another old guy with an inflated contract.