The Hershey Bears had another successful season finishing with a record of 38-26-4-8, as they head to the playoffs. Not only did fans see the development of the team, but the potential of specific players on defense. We saw a breakout season from defenseman, Tomas Kundratek who led the Bears’ defensemen in goals scored with 12. Patrick McNeil was another key element on the Hershey power play, compiling five goals with the man advantage and 41 points on the season.
But one of the most important parts to the defense is the goalie, the backbone and last man who can stop the puck. Hershey’s goalies shuffled between the Capitals and Bears’ a few times during the regular season, but fans in chocolate town saw the tandem of Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin throughout the majority of the season.
Take a look at the report card for each member of the Hershey Bear’s defense and their goalies. My grades on the Bears’ forwards will be out on Friday.
Patrick McNeil: McNeil displayed a great nose for the net as a defenseman compiling 41 points. He was paired up with Patrick Wellar for the majority of the year combining offense with a defensive presence in Wellar.
Kevin Marshall: Marshall played 31 games for the Bears’ following a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Marshall doesn’t offer much offensively, but plays a solid defensive game and can play very physical and take top opposing players off their game. A “team related matter” forced him out of the lineup late in the year, lowering his team morale.
Cameron Schilling: Schilling played seven games for Hershey following his college career at the University of Miami of Ohio. Schilling was paired up with Patrick Wellar for the most part, playing a sound defensive game and helping out on the penalty kill.
Sean Collins: Collins has brought a solid defensive presence in part to being paired with Kevin Marshall. He chips in on offense every once in a while, generating two goals and eight assists on the campaign.
Patrick Wellar: Wellar has proved to be a physical presence like Marshall that can move opposing players out of the crease. He’s willing to drop the gloves and stand up for his teammates, but does not offer much offensively.
Julien Brouillette: Brouillette has been paired up with Tomas Kundratek ever since the trade brought the former Connecticut Whale defenseman to Hershey. He brings a solid defensive presence to pair with the offensive ability of Kundratek. Brouillette has helped out on offense compiling 21 points including three power play goals.
Tomas Kundratek: Kundratek has been a great addition for the Bears’, brining offensive capabilities including a great point shot along with a good pinching game on the boards. He led the Bears’ in goals from defenseman with 12 and brought a plus two rating. One aspect he needs to work on is his aggressiveness when pinching, sometimes leaving the Bears’ goalie facing an odd man rush.
Zach Miskovic: Miskovic has played sparingly with Hershey, only appearing in 35 games. You would imagine his right hand shot would help out his scoring chances, but Miskovic totaled only three assists in the regular season. He will not appear in the playoffs unless a key player from the Bears’ defenseive corps sustains injury.
Braden Holtby: Holtby flipped back and forth between the Capitals and Bears’ this season, surprisingly playing better with the Capitals. He had a subpar year in chocolate town, posting a 2.61 goals against average up from 2.29 the previous season in Hershey. Holtby has started all the playoff games for the Capitals in round one, indicating he will not be returning to Hershey until Washington gets knocked out.
Dany Sabourin: Sabourin played more games than anyone expect this year, appearing in 37 of them along with a 2.76 goals against average. He got hot between the pipes down the stretch run, earning the trust and confidence from Bears’ coach Mark French. He is currently Washington’s backup in the playoffs and will not return until the Capitals get one of their goalies healthy again.