Friday night, the Hershey Bears jumped all over their rival, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, to the tune of a 5-2 victory. The win extends Hershey’s point streak to ten games and pushes the Bears atop the AHL’s Atlantic Division.
Two quick first period tallies from Australian Nathan Walker and Chandler Stephenson set the tone and the Bears never really looked back from there.
Recently demoted Caps prospect, Zach Sanford got the game-winning goal later in the second period, his second AHL goal. Zach Sill and Garrett Mitchell added the remaining two tallies. Vitek Vanecek earned the win in goal for the Bears stopping 26 shots
Garrett Mitchell’s first period goal on Sunday gave the Bears a 1-0 lead. But more importantly, it unleashed a hailstorm of plush toys from the GIANT Center’s stands.
During the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss, Hershey Bears fans set a new franchise record when they threw 20,662 stuffed animals to the ice. The result was pure chaos.
The Hershey Bears did their best Washington Capitals impression Sunday evening, besting the Rochester Americans 5-3 to win their fifth straight game. They swept their weekend three-in-three. After losing four of their first five, Hershey has cruised to a 6-2-2 record while recording points in eight straight outings including Sunday.
Five different Bears scored goals for Hershey, and eight others got assists. Christian Thomas would score a first period goal for the Bears for the second time in two nights on a nice backhand feed from prospect Chandler Stephenson. Riley Barber added to the Bears lead later in the first on a tip in front of the net off a Chris Bourque centering pass, his third goal of the season. Along with two tallies from Rochester in the second, Nathan Walker would get his second goal of the year on a Zach Sill pass from behind the net.
Bears Captain Garrett Mitchell scored the fourth goal for the Bears at the beginning of the third on a nice little drop pass from Sill, a goal that would end up being the game-winner. Sill ended the game with two assists. Aaron Ness added an insurance power play marker with a little over eleven minutes left in the game.
Goaltender Joe Cannata made 21 stops in the victory, posting his fourth win of the season.
Andre Burakovsky is the best Caps prospect yet to play a game with the big club (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images).
With rookie camp upon us, RMNB presents the new edition of its semiannual prospect rankings.
Prospect rankings factor in a player’s potential, his probability to reach his ceiling (including an assessment of that player’s adaptation to NHL’s style of play), and physical and mental maturity.
The Caps prospect pool is considered top-heavy, with four Caps prospects ranked in top-50 league-wide by both Corey Pronman and NHL.com. However, there’s believed to be a significant drop-off in talent after that. While Capitals management has tried to make their prospect pool deeper, they’ve still got work to do. The Caps are considered thin at center in particular, underlined by auditioning their two top wingers for a center slot.
Photo: Doug Pensinger
After spending most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Capitals’ center prospect Michael Latta is now poised to gain a full-time roster spot in Washington next season. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline in the infamous Forsberg-Erat trade, Latta had one goal and four points in 17 NHL games last season but left a good impression, winning 52.2% of his face-offs and playing an effective, physical game on the fourth line. Latta was one of the team’s best players at drawing penalties, leading the team in penalty differential.
After signing a two-year contract on July 1st, Latta is practically guaranteed a roster spot in the NHL next season.
Chandler Stephenson has been one of the most impressive Caps prospects this season (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The first half of the 2013-14 season has been mostly positive for Washington Capitals prospects. Unknowns like Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson have shown real NHL potential, while the elder statesmen of the pool like Nate Schmidt and Patrick Wey, both coming off tremendous college careers, have made steps up the Caps’ depth chart.
However, top two Caps prospects will wish their first half was better: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s injuries have limited his action and Tom Wilson has had a hard time gaining a meaningful role with the big club.
The feel-good story of the season so far has been Stephenson, who had been bugged by injuries in the past, but is now thriving in a veteran role as an offensive go-to guy for his team. I’ve got more on these stories and our full top-20 ranking below. (more…)
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Washington Capitals prospect Garrett Mitchell is expected to miss four to six months as he recovers from shoulder surgery. According to Tim Leone of The Patriot-News, the surgery is scheduled for Thursday in Washington.
Mitchell has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He said he’s had shoulder problems for most of the season, but the ailment was aggravated on Nov. 24 during a game against the Binghamton Senators.
GIFs by Ian Oland
The Washington Capitals have tried to improve their physical play in recent years, adding more power forward prospects into their system. On Sunday, two of those prospects playing for the Caps’ AHL affiliate in Hershey — Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell — combined for a big hit on Norfolk Admirals’ forward and Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Friberg. The hit was so powerful that it made the glass unhinge and fly into the Giant Center crowd.
At first, we didn’t have video of Joel Rechlicz’s decisive shootout goal to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Monday night, so we had to use our imaginations. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, the Capitals have graciously provided us evidence that this thing actually happened.
Rechlicz, the Caps’ fourth and final shooter, delivers the puck to crease before yanking it aside and backhanding it in– quite casually– to finalize the fight-filled fiasco of a game against the Flyers. Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell fought earlier in the game, and we’ve got video below. We’ve also got another angle on Wrecker’s goal from RMNB reader Salvatore P., who was in Philly and was kind enough to share his view on our Facebook page.
Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey during Caps Development Camp in July. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
[Editor’s Note: Fedor has reported on Washington Capitals prospects for RMNB for the last three years. This year we’re proud to introduce his prospect rankings. The rankings will be updated three times during the season– with the goal of updating you on how prospects are or not progressing. The first edition of the rankings come on the second day of Rookie Camp, as Caps prospects jockey for position within the organization.]
The Washington Capitals have re-stocked their prospect pipeline over the past two NHL drafts, giving fans a wealth of new players to get excited about in addition to a few solid free-agent prospects signings.
The 2012 Draft is turning out be a sterling spot on George McPhee’s resume. After picking Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in the first round, GMGM made a few strong picks in the latter rounds with Thomas DiPauli, Connor Carrick, Riley Barber, and Christian Djoos– all of whom have been invited to their junior national team camps and left good impressions.
Depth on defense is an area of strength for this crop of talent, with more than a few prospects ready to compete for roster spots as soon as they open.
Below, check out inaugural edition of the RMNB prospect rankings.
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