Apparently Graham Mink won't be missed too much on the power play! Andrew Gordon started off the season scoring 3 times last night, all with the man advantage.
Last seasons goal scoring machine, Alexandre Giroux, added 3 assists as the Bears kicked off the 09-10 season with a 3-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals.
Braden Holtby made his first career AHL start and made 23 saves to get the win.
Hershey outshot Norfolk in each period and for the game with 32 shots to Norfolk's 24. Again the depth of the Bears out did their opposition as they routinely skated with 4 lines which keeps the top lines humming all game long.
The night started as a celebration of the 08-09 Calder Cup winning team and turned quickly to the anticipation of what the 09-10 season holds. This Bears team is probably as deep or deeper than last seasons Cup winning team. Just on defense alone the talent is much deeper with Karl Alzner and John Carlson both starting the season in Hershey and with players such as Sean Collins and Patty McNeill making huge strides over the summer.
At forward the depth is younger and inexperienced but there is substantial upside. Last year's first round pick Anton Gustafsson did not play last night but as of now is still with the team. He has said he will return to Sweden to play before he goes to play in the ECHL due to the talent discrepancy between the Swedish Elite League and the ECHL. His biggest problem has been adjusting to the different game style here in the States where guys are much more aggressive. You have to wonder if the Caps/Bears want him to stay and play even limited minutes in Hershey (at least for a while) so he can get used to the style and adapt.
Either way there are other players in the system that provide great depth. Boyd Kane skated with the Capitals for their first 2 games of the season but is expected to return to Hershey next week when Eric Fehr returns from injury. Michael Dubuc scored 35 goals in South Carolina last season and is a great option if Hershey needs some goals. Jake Hauswirth is a big kid (6'5") that likes to create havoc in front of the crease. And big Joe Finley is another option although it is being reported that he will play defense in South Carolina which obviously slows his growth as a left wing.
Overall this team is going to be good this season and last night showed the talent they have. 3 for 6 on the man advantage and they killed off all 4 power plays they faced. The goalie was very good and he might be in South Carolina next week.
A great way to start the season!
LET'S GO BEARS!!
***editor's note--the grading and 3 stars posts will resume next week. due to prior engagements I was unable to watch the entire game and therefore can not speak to how the team played.**