PRE-SEASON GAME 1 PREVIEW: BEARS at SENATORS
Welcome to the pre-season fans!
Tonight, your HERSHEY BEARS are in the Souther Tier of New York State to battle the Binghamton Senators. The fourth night of training camp will see many newcomers, a few pre-season "veterans", and some prospects that fans have been very excited to see.
Philipp Grubauer draws the start in goal, and it has been a long time coming for the native of Rosenheim, Germany in getting such a start. After going through off-season surgery, Grubauer is looking to pick up on a tremendous season in South Carolina that saw him earn two monthly honors: the ECHL Goaltender of the Month (November 2011) and the Reebok/ECHL Rookie of the Month (February 2012). With the NHL locking out its players, Grubauer knows the role he faces with Braden Holtby joining the BEARS for the start of camp - and he has taken the task on professionally. Grubauer is expected to play the entire game, with Brandon Anderson backing up.
On defense, the BEARS welcome Florida's 2008 3rd-round selection Adam Comrie to the lineup. Comrie has 44 games of experience, all with Rochester, playing with the Amerks in the 2010-11 season. Steve Oleksy, who began last year in ECHL Idaho, played the remaining 50 games of last season with the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He finished with an impressive plus-16 efficiency rating, good enough for third on the squad.
Also on defense, fans who attended Washington's Development Camp in the summer will remember seeing Michigan native Scott Wietecha on the blue line. Known for his hard shot, Wietecha put home an impressive 14 goals with the ECHL's Chicago Express last year.
The Caps prospect tandem of Brett Flemming and Dustin Stevenson will be paired together tonight. Flemming scored his first two professional points last season at Norfolk when he scored one goal and set up another. He spent most of the year in South Carolina, chipping in 13 points in 41 games, and adding five points (2-3-5) in the Kelly Cup playoffs. Stevenson, meanwhile, played in 72 games with the Stingrays, and in addition to improving his defensive game, finished second on the team in penalty minutes (113).
Rounding out the D-corps is "veteran" Julien Brouillette. The newcomer to last season's BEARS finished the regular season with an AHL career-best seven goals and 14 assists, while becoming a key cog in assistant coach Troy Mann's penalty kill.
At forward, Caps prospect Stanislav ("Stan") Galiev is the player to watch. Galiev, in an injury-shortened 20-game campaign in his "junior" Junior season with Saint John, still managed 19 points (13-6-19), but went on a tear in the QMJHL and Memorial Cup playoffs, racking up 34 points (16-18-34) in 17 games. He and the Sea Dogs made the Memorial Cup Finals in the last two years, winning the championship in 2011.
Galiev will be joined by linemates Barry Almeida and Joel Champagne. Almeida, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, made his AHL debut on April 15 - just 52 miles away in Worcester - and promptly scored on his second shift of the game for his first AHL goal. Almeida, a winner of the NCAA National Championship at Boston College, will look to impress early in pre-season. The 6'4" Champagne, who played 55 games with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals last year, could be a fun complement to both Almeida and Galiev.
Second-line forwards Tyler Gron (rookie - Northern Michigan U.) and David Marshall (5th-year pro - Quinnipiac) will be paired with Alex Berry, one of the BEARS' summer signings. Berry missed all of last season after suffering an arm injury, and after his most recent successful AHL stint in Norfolk, is looking to add to the BEARS depth up front.
T.J. Syner and David Civitarese, two players who earned valuable late-season minutes under Mark French's guidance last spring, will have tough-guy Danick Paquette to complete the third line. Syner, the 5'9" speedster, is looking for his first goal in the AHL (even if it is pre-season) after his solid four-year career at UMass-Amherst earned him a Hobey Baker Award nomination. Civitarese completed four years at Colorado College and seeks to hone his strengths as a defensive forward and a steady penalty killer.
Rounding out the forwards in tonight's lineup are David Vallorani, Jesse Todd, and Matt Pope. Vallorani is one of 40 players in UMass-Lowell history to record 100 points in his collegiate career, and impressed at the Capitals Development Camp last summer. Todd, who posted 98 points in a four-year career at Merrimack College, made his AHL debut in Hamilton in the spring and recorded three assists in five games. Pope begins his fifth professional season this year, after scoring seven goals and setting up four others in Chocolatetown in 2011-12. Pope was one of the ECHL's leading scorers at the time of his first recall from South Carolina last fall.
Here is the complete lineup for tonight's game, complete with jersey numbers:
#4 - Adam Comrie, #7 - Steve Oleksy
#32 - Dustin Stevenson, #25 - Brett Flemming
#29 - Julien Brouillette, #5 - Scott Wietecha
#23 - Barry Almeida, #19 - Joel Champagne, #10 - Stan Galiev
#20 - Tyler Gron, #26 - David Marshall, #21 - Alex Berry
#24 - T.J. Syner, #18 - David Civitarese, #15 - Danick Paquette
#14 - David Vallorani, #11 - Jesse Todd, #27 - Matt Pope
#35 - Philipp Grubauer
Follow @TheHersheyBears on Twitter for updates. And don't forget, Friday night the BEARS will play the B-Sens at GIANT Center at 7PM! Tickets are on sale!