December 10, 2019

Three Hershey Bears prep for AHL All-Star Game

When the AHL All-Star Game roster was first announced January 6, it looked as though only one player would be representing the Hershey Bears. However, other players’ call-ups have summoned two more Bears to the All-Star festivities in Utica, NY. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was named to the roster on Friday, joining Tim Kennedy and defenseman Connor Carrick for Monday’s game. Grubauer was a last-minute addition when goaltender Anton Forsberg (Springfield Falcons) pulled out of the game due to a recent injury to Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Carrick replaces Nikita Nesterov (Syracuse Crunch), who is currently on a call-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The three Bears players are well-deserving of the appointments. Kennedy, the only one to be named to the initial roster, has been named to three AHL All-Star Games, though this is the first one he will actually play, as injuries prevented him from attending the first two. Kennedy leads the Hershey Bears in scoring with 33 points (4 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games, and ranks second in the AHL in assists. Bears head coach Troy Mann told Tim Leone, “After a little bit of a slow start, I think he certainly came into his own and has been arguably our best forward, for the most part, all year.”

Defenseman Connor Carrick joined the All-Star roster on January 21, less than a week before the game itself. Carrick is in his second season with the Hershey Bears after starting the 2013-14 season with the Washington Capitals. The Illinois native is third on the Bears in points with 27 (6 goals, 21 assists) and leads all Hershey defensemen in that category. Carrick went on a tear in December, recording 9 points in 12 games that month. In the last game before the All-Star break on January 24, Carrick scored the overtime winner against Binghamton. Carrick took to Twitter after the All-Star selection announcement, saying, “Such an honor, lotta great players on that roster.”

Philipp Grubauer could perhaps have been a bit of a snub being left off the initial roster. However, once Bobrovsky went down in Columbus and All-Star starter Anton Forsberg was called up, Grubauer got the call to join the All-Star Game. Grubauer has been consistently excellent in his three seasons with the Hershey Bears. Currently the starter for the Bears, he is 14-9-4 with three shutouts, and has a 2.15 GAA and a .920 save percentage. While that doesn’t rank very highly in AHL rankings (he’s 10th in GAA, 19th in save percentage, 8th in wins), those are very respectable numbers for the 23-year-old goaltender. Though Grubauer was recently injured (knee), he recovered in enough time to be an All-Star.

The AHL All-Star Skills competition was Sunday in Utica. Kennedy participated in the puck control relay and breakaway relay. Carrick faced the speed gun in the hardest shot competition (clocking 98.0 mph) as well as the breakaway relay. Grubauer’s talents in net were on display in the Rapid Fire and pass and score. Grubauer won the award for Top Goaltender in the skills competition, stopping 16 of 19 shots in goaltending events.

The AHL All-Star Game takes place Monday, January 26 at 7:00pm ET.

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