Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen walked briskly across the locker room to speak with the media after the Hershey Bears 6-3 loss to the Charlotte Checkers Sunday night. Hillen had played his second game during his conditioning stint, as he recovers from a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee. He felt much better than he did in his first game following his injury and could return to the Washington Capitals for their next game Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 28 year old blue liner played with veteran defenseman Tyson Strachan on Hershey’s shutdown pair. Hillen also received ice time on the Bears’ 22nd ranked power play, on the top unit with forwards Stanislav Galiev, Ryan Stoa, Casey Wellman and Jeff Taffe.
“I really don’t know who long he’ll be done, but my impressions (are) very good,” Hershey Bears coach Mike Haviland stated. “True professional, he’s a smart player, he can skate. He’s got NHL speed, he makes good decisions with the puck, he’s a lot more offensively than I thought he would be. Maybe in the NHL he’s more of a safe guy, but he can skate. Smart player, as long as he’s here we’ll certainly play him and use him as much as we can.”
Hillen assisted on the Bears second goal of the game in their 6-3 loss to the Charlotte Checkers, getting the secondary marker on Tyson Strachan’s third goal of the season on a shot from the blue line. He also earned a secondary assist on the Bears third goal, when Ryan Stoa potted his 12th goal of the season to bring the Bears to a 5-3 deficit.
“I feel better a lot better this game than I did the first game,” Hillen explained. “The first game was limping pretty bad after (the game), this one I feel a lot better. We’ll see how I feel when I get home, the next morning is key. If I feel better the next morning I should be good to go.”
“The recovery aspect has been the most difficult part for me. I can skate, but then I get off the ice and it hurts real bad to walk. The next morning it’s really stiff and sore. I feel a lot better this game than I did last game and hopefully the recovery in the morning goes well.”
Galiev on Fourth Line
Washington Capitals forward prospect Stanislav Galiev continued his return from an upper body injury, playing on the Bears fourth line. He also received power play time on the Bears’ top unit, holding down the spot at the left circle, where Alex Ovechkin plays on the Capitals man advantage. Galiev recorded his third assist and sixth point of the season in the third period, assisting on Ryan Stoa’s meaningless late goal.
Bears Doubled by Checkers
The Hershey Bears winless streak increased to six games (0-5-0-1) with their 6-3 home defeat Sunday to Charlotte, with the Checkers sweeping the home set at Giant Center. Carolina’s AHL affiliate outscored the Chocolate and White 10-4 during the two games, including a hat trick by forward Zach Boychuk Sunday to pace to Charlotte.
The Checkers went 3-6 on the power play and stormed out of the gates, earning a 3-0 edge 10:15 into the second stanza. The Bears’ man advantage continued to stumble, going 0-4 on the night. They’re 2-30 on the power play over their last seven contests.
Hershey head coach Mike Haviland was ejected in the second period after receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for arguing for an icing call that never came. Haviland’s ejection came after Charlotte defenseman Ryan Murphy netted his first goal of the season midway through the second frame.
“It was icing,” Haviland said. “It was a clear cut icing, you’re talking about Jack Hillen, he’s played in the National Hockey League for how many years now? The explanation that Jack got eventually was ‘you stopped skating’. When you watch the film the puck’s across the goal line, Jack Hillen’s 2-3 feet inside our blue line, there’s not even a guy from Charlotte in our zone. That’s the rule, it’s icing.”
“I got up on the bench and I yelled ‘icing, where’s the icing’? He told me to get down, I got down, I said I still want an explanation; he gave me two minutes for that. It’s the quickest ejection I’ve ever seen on any coach. I don’t know, maybe certainly something that lingers way back when, him and I from years and years ago, I have no idea. I’ve done a lot worse for that and I’ve seen a lot worse.”
Charlotte goalie Justin Peters (3-1-1) was strong in net for the Checkers when he needed to be in his fifth start of the season, recording 37 saves on 40 shots. Sunday’s game was the fourth time in their last six games that they gave up five goals or more.
The Bears hit the road for two games against the Norfolk Admirals next weekend, AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.
Bears Injuries: Tomas Kundratek, Garrett Mitchell and Cameron Schilling
Hershey Healthy Scratches: Derek Whitmore, Joel Rechlicz, John Mitchell and Patrick Wellar
Ryan Stoa-Jeff Taffe-Dustin Gazley
Dane Byers-Michael Latta-Matt Watkins
Nathan Walker-Ryan Potulny-Nathan Walker
Peter LeBlanc-Casey Wellman-Stanislav Galiev
Bears Defensive Pairings
Jack Hillen-Tyson Strachan
Julien Brouillette-Patrick Wey
Nate Schmidt-David Kolomatis
Matthew Speck covers the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers. He provides coverage of both Washington at the NHL level and prospect related content. Matthew also covers local sports for the Lebanon Daily News in Central Pennsylvania. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.