Bears Set to Start Camp, 75th SeasonPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
We’re just days away from the start of Hershey Bears training camp. The Bears will report for physical examinations on Sunday, Sept. 30 and will then have three days of practice to prepare for their first pre-season contest, an Oct. 3 date with the Binghamton Senators at Broome County Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Hershey will be getting set for its 75th season in the American Hockey League. Bears head coach Mark French is part of the on-ice coaching contingent at the Capitals’ annual summer development camp. Spending a week in July watching and guiding the young camp hopefuls also gives French a bit of a leg up when it comes time for the Bears to start their fall training camp. Shortly after the conclusion of the 2012 Caps summer development camp, the Bears signed two of the attendees to contracts for the upcoming season. Those players are forward David Vallorani and defenseman Scott Wietecha. Vallorani just completed four years of NCAA hockey with U. Mass-Lowell where he totaled 114 points (40 goals, 74 assists) in 149 games. Before turning pro late in the 2010-11 season, Wietecha played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Ferris State, totaling 51 points (12 goals, 39 assists) and a cumulative plus-16 rating. Wietecha played the 2011-12 season with the Chicago Express of the ECHL, totaling 13 goals and 27 points and leading the team’s defensemen in goals. Also among the 2012 summer camp attendees were a quartet of former NCAA players who made their pro debuts late in the 2011-12 season under French in Hershey: defenseman Cameron Schilling and forwards Barry Almeida, David Civitarese and T.J. Syner. All four will be at Hershey’s camp this fall “From a Hershey perspective, the Schillings, the Almedas, the Civitareses, the T.J. Syners, some guys that we had at the end of the season, you want to see where their progression has come in a short window,” said French during July’s summer camp. “You want to see where they’re going because we will probably see them during the [upcoming season].” The 2011-12 Bears were a very strong club, but Hershey was not the dynamic team that won consecutive Calder Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. That made it possible for some of those players to dip their toes in the pro waters late last season. “When we won 60 games and won the Calder Cup,” said French, “a Barry Almeda wouldn’t have played. David Civitrarese did a great job coming in and playing. But they wouldn’t have had an opportunity in those lineups to get in and play some games. Last year they came in and we were using them right away. So from a development standpoint, I think it’s much more beneficial.” Almeida played four seasons at Boston College where he was part of NCAA championship teams in his sophomore and senior seasons. He totaled 22 goals and 40 points in 44 games as a senior. Almeida scored a goal in his first AHL game and was one of the more noticeable players at the Caps’ 2012 summer camp. “He played two games [for the Bears],” noted French. “And we liked him. He scored on his first shift, so we liked that. But he’s an undersized player. He plays with very good pace to his game. He likes to get his nose dirty. “For an undersized guy, that’s probably the first thing you look for: ‘Is he going to shy away from that type of contact?’ But he didn’t. I’ve really liked him at camp. He’s looked very good. He’s probably been one of the best forwards [at summer camp].” Almeida and the others are now set to undertake the rigors of their first pro training camp later this week.
The AHL Hershey Bears hit the ice at Giant Center this morning for the first session of their 2012 training camp. They did so with a good deal more coaching braintrust than would normally be the case. Washington head coach Adam Oates, Caps assistant coach Calle Johansson and Caps associate