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Hershey Bears 2 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3


05/07/2009 - As seen in the game program Jim Starr, BEARS Staff Writer Jay Beagle is a former ECHL Cup holder with the Idaho Steelheads, this is his second season with the BEARS. He can pass, score, hit and come out of the corners with the puck. Beagle has a nice resume of talents and achievements, and Washington is looking for Jay to play a key roll in their fourth line to shutdown NHL snipers. Jay is waiting for the call. Sean Collins was signed by Washington as a free agent out of Ohio State in 2007. He suffered some injuries with the BEARS last season and spent some time with our ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. This is his second season with the BEARS. I sat down with both of them and talked about the recent slump Hershey has been struggling with, and how the BEARS plan to learn from the Woods (that's the guy who stands behind the bench) and re-group as a team. Jim Starr: Sean, what do you see as the difference between your play last year and this year? Sean Collins: This year I'm playing with more confidence, trying to play more aggressive and just moving the puck quicker, being more physical and generally just trying to fine tune my game. Starr: Are these things you are going over with Coach Woods, or are you coming up with these improvements on your own? Collins: Yes, the coach is helping me. Last year was a rough year for me with my injury and stuff, I learned a lot about the pro game and I'm figuring out what type of game I need to play, what my roll is and the coach is helping me out with that. Starr: Jay, last year you scored 19 goals, 18 assists for 37 points in 64 games. Those are considered good stats for a second line forward and you did it all on the fourth line playing a defensive shut down roll. What up dude? Jay Beagle: I have been known to put the puck in the net when I need to, but now I'm playing an even more defensive roll this year on the fourth line. A lot of the reason is that we have so much talent up front scoring and I'm needed the most to shut down the opponents high scoring lines and just rag them around the ice chasing me while I have the puck, or taking time off their shift by controlling the puck in their zone along the boards. I just keep going back and forth along the boards protecting the puck until I draw a penalty and put the opponent in the box. With all that skill up front I'm not going to see as many power plays this year as I did last year, and I'm going to focus more on defensive play. At the Washington camp this year they kind of let me know what my roll is going to be if I get called up, and Woody is working with me and helping me to get my defensive game squared away. It would be nice to score goals and I want to contribute in any way that I can, but I'm being groomed to work defensively and shut down visitors and keep them from scoring goals. Starr: You did score a goal against Philly so far this year. Beagle: Yes I did. Starr: Did you have your eyes closed? (smile) Beagle: (laugh) No I didn't. It was a flutter shot and slow moving so I tipped it down towards the crease and it found eyes and went in. Starr: How is your corner game this year? Beagle: I think it's better than last year. Every year I'm gettin' stronger in the corners so if I can control the puck down low in the offensive zone ... we're not going to get scored on. Starr: Sean, what do you see as your roll with the BEARS this season? Collins: A solid two way puck moving defenseman, be strong in the corners and make good decisions with the puck defensively. Starr: How did we go from such a great start to a 500 record, and now again, we are lighting up the lamp all over the league and at GIANT Center? Collins: There's going to be times where games aren't clicking. We are working hard on our overall defensive game right now to stop the bleeding in our defensive zone and start beating teams 1-0, 2-1 if we have to. We have to not screen Daren, clear rebounds, and at the same time, we have to start getting the puck up to our talented scorers. We all have a roll, and the team has a system, and we ALL have to get back on it ASAP. Starr: Jay, last year and this year, there's a group high in the stands with signs and cheers for you, did you know that they are up there, can you hear or see them? Beagle: Do you mean the "Beagle Dog Pound"? Yes I do notice them and they are still there. I appreciate that they are there and part of my game. I promised myself that this year, if I score a really nice goal, I'm going to look up at them and give them a "Shout Out" for all of their support when I'm playing. The "Beagle Dog Pound" are my boys up there! (smile) Starr: I know many fans, including myself, respect your hard work out there and owning the corners, but I never saw a special corner or section of such devoted fans for one player since GIANT Center opened. Beagle: It's kinda nice! Starr: How much do you pay them? (laugh) Beagle: (laugh) A hundred bucks a game ... (laugh) Starr: Sean, you went to Washington as a free agent. Is that the same as a walk on? Collins: ah ... No. I was signed a few months before the season started so that made me a free agent, but before they signed me, they invited me to try out at camp, so at that point I guess I was a walk on. I had a good camp so they signed me, and now they are trying to see how I can fit into their system. Starr: Jay, how can you explain the great start we had, and then the sudden drop off to a "win one, lose two" type slump? Beagle: Well I think that's normal. A team with talent comes out fresh and strong and never looks back and gets win after win for a while. We started to develop bad habits, myself included, and all of a sudden you take chances and make wrong decisions that you weren't doing two games ago, and you begin to see a big difference in the negative results you're getting from straying from the system. We all sat down as a team and talked about it, and we all agreed that Coach Woods was right, and we needed to settle down a little and start concentrating on the Caps / BEARS system and STICKING TO IT! We're a mean machine again and we're back on track now. Our system really works! We know that if we play our game, we are going to come out on top every time, we are that good of a team. Starr: Sean, how hard has it been for you to get yourself turned around and back on the system? Collins: I didn't go on the road trip to Hamilton and Albany. Joudrey and I stayed back and we worked hard on the ice here in Hershey, but it's hard to re-up with the team and jump right in with the same momentum the other guys have. I would say that my timing was off a little when I re-joined the lineup. I had to work hard on not giving opposing forwards much room to work. I did blast a Phantom along their bench in GIANT Center and that player ended up injured. I would like to do that more often but sometimes the hits aren't there, and you take yourself out of the play if you go chasing checks.

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