Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from RoaRR!

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I started Ravings of a Rink Rebel in late January 2010, and much to my surprise, it's turned into a (mildly) legitimate blog and also a gig with a major hockey news outlet.

2010 has been an amazing year for me personally and I want to thank each and every one of you for the support that's been given. I really appreciate every comment, every compliment, and even constructive criticism that I have received.

I truly love hockey and writing about hockey and it makes me so happy that I am able to do what I love almost every day (regular day job notwithstanding).

So here's to 2011 and to good hockey. Let's Go Caps!

Special thanks go to Nate Ewell from the Caps, Dennis Bernstein from TFP, John Walton from the Hershey Bears, Anna, and countless others for everything they've done for me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Game Recap: Bears 1, Bruins 2

The Hershey Bears controlled the puck throughout the first two periods, outworking and outshooting the Providence Bruins, but a brief lapse in the early minutes of the third period cost them, with the Bruins scoring two quick consecutive goals in mere seconds that the Bears couldn't match.

The Bears lost their fire a bit in the first five minutes of the third period, and the Bruins quickly took advantage. After the two surprise goals, the Bears seemed to wake up and put the pressure back on the Bruins. It took about five minutes for the Bears to score their first and last of the night.

Scoreless in the first two periods, the Bears had a lot of quality chances, but Bruins goaltender Nolan Schaefer always had the answers. Coach Mark French acknowledged that Schaefer was on his game tonight. He was seeing the puck very well, and French said that the Bears needed "to take away his eyes. I didn't think we did that enough."

With top scorer Andrew Gordon as well as Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle currently on the Washington Capitals roster, scoring goals hasn't been coming quite as easily to the Bears. French praised his team's defensive effort, but defense won't necessarily win you hockey games.
"We're not giving up much defensively," French said. "But the object of the game is to score goals and we've got to do a better job of that."

He later added, alluding to call-ups and injuries, "We've got to find a way to score goals with the guys we have."

Defenseman Zach Miskovic, the third star of the game (and the only Bear to receive a star), was a real presence on the ice. He had an assist on the Bears goal, and was the player who sent it on the way to the net where Andrew Joudrey was able to tip it in.

Miskovic also showed a new side of himself, getting chippy with Bruin Jeremy Reich in the first period, and later dropping him with a cross-check to the chest after he interfered with Keith Aucoin. Speaking about the altercation with Reich, Miskovic said, "He wanted to mess around with Coiner (Keith Aucoin) a little bit, and we just can't have that with one of our top players. So just trying to stand up for some of our guys and do a little extra job there."

Miskovic, who's not typically known for chippy play, was the subject of praise from his coach. French was pleased that Miskovic "physically stepped up without hesitation. I think that plays to his maturation."

Miskovic credited the experienced defensive corps on the Hershey blue line with his development. Specifically, he named Nycholat, Fahey, and Souray as the veterans he's learning from most on the defense. Should he continue on the trajectory he's on, he should be a complete and solid blue-liner for the Bears.

The Bears face the Charlotte Checkers Sunday, and former teammate Oskar Osala. The Checkers defeated the Binghamton Senators in a 4-2 victory Saturday night.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Focus on Prospects: Garrett Mitchell

 photo by Don Healy/Regina Leader Post
Name: Garrett Mitchell
Position: RW
Shoots: Right
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185 lbs
Birthdate: 1991-09-02
Hometown: Regina, Sask.

In the Capitals rookie game at the culmination of rookie camp, a couple of prospects made their names known. Players like Cody Eakin, Dustin Stevenson, and Philipp Grubauer performed extraordinarily well and were praised by coaching staff. One of the more behind-the-scenes players that made an impression was Garrett Mitchell, a 19-year-old kid from the WHL Regina Pats. On the second line with Nikita Kashirsky and Cody Eakin, Mitchell made the breakaway pass to Eakin that led to his game-winning goal.

Coaches were impressed with Mitchell, a physical forward with strong positional sense and a good work ethic. His leadership on and off the ice earned him the Captain's "C" for his final year with the Regina Pats this season. Of the honor, Mitchell said, "My whole hockey career I've tried to be a leader, whether you have a letter on or not."

Hockey's Future places the 2009 sixth-round pick on an energy line, likely third or fourth line depending on linemates. He has a defensive mindset and is best for those grinding, forechecking lines, as well as the penalty kill. He's not much of a puckhandler, but he's very fast and does what's needed to wrestle for the puck and win battles along the boards. He's willing to drop the gloves in defense of his teammates, and it shows in his penalty minutes -- he had 110 PIMs in 57 games with the Pats last season (8 recorded fights). He backed up his physical tendencies with a total 31 points for the season.

For his confrontational, gritty style, Mitchell has drawn comparisons to Matt Bradley. When he was told of the comparison, Mitchell said, "Definitely that’s the kind of role I like to play.  I’m not the biggest guy but I kind of like to be an in-your-face player and I don’t shy away from dropping the mitts or whatever. I do think that’s a good comparison."

If you need an example of the sacrifices Mitchell is willing to make to help his team, take a look at this fight from just last week against Sena Acolatse of the Prince George Cougars. Acolatse, a known heavyweight in the WHL, was absolutely hammering away at Mitchell, but Mitchell didn't back down and didn't give up, and even ended up drawing blood from Acolatse. The Pats lost that game 5-3, but after Mitchell's scrap late in the second period, the Pats went on to score three goals in the third period.

Once Mitchell ages out of the CHL this coming spring, depending on the outcome of his next Capitals training camp, Mitchell is likely to be sent to either South Carolina or Hershey to further develop his skill set. He has played one game with Hershey in April, a 3-1 loss to Syracuse, but Coach Mark French indicated that he would like to see more of Mitchell in the future.