Washington Capitals prospect Connor McMichael was sent down to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears on Sunday to make room for TJ Oshie on the NHL roster. Later that night, he made his AHL season debut on Hershey’s second line.
On Wednesday, in just his second game back with the Bears, he already has his first goal.
It came in Hershey’s 2-1 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Huge response from the lads 💪 pic.twitter.com/LrsQAtr21T
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 24, 2022
The play starts with Henrik Borgstrom collecting a puck along the right boards in the Bears’ offensive zone and finding McMichael who had made a smart cut toward the net. McMichael then curls the puck around a defender’s check and snipes it home over the Springfield netminder’s blocker side.
It was the 21-year-old center’s 15th career goal for the Bears after leading them in scoring during the 2020-21 season with 27 points (14g, 13a) in 33 games. He has been skating on the team’s second line with Borgstrom and fellow Caps prospect Henrik Rybinski.
McMichael drew into just six games for the Caps this season after a rookie season that saw him play 68 games and record 18 points (9g, 9a). Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette talked about the opportunity the young forward has with this move back to the AHL level.
“I spoke to Connor this morning,” Laviolette said. “I think from just a development standpoint to get down there and play some games, play 20-22 minutes a night, get in the middle of the ice, take faceoffs, power play, and get some confidence back. I talked to him this morning and he was excited to go play some games.”
In both games, McMichael has led Hershey in shots on goal with four in each. He is also receiving first-unit power play time.
“He’s just gotta play,” Laviolette continued. “He’s gotta get out there and he’s gotta have great nights, good nights, tough nights. He’s gotta score some goals and be counted on defensively. Just get back to having some fun playing the game. He needs to play more than nine minutes. Just go back and play some hockey. He was excited just to go play.”
Screenshot via @TheHersheyBears/Twitter
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