Ivan Miroshnichenko scored a highlight reel goal against the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday. The tally marked the AHL rookie’s second goal in the last three games.
But that was not enough to get Miroshnichenko a jersey in Hershey’s rematch with the Islanders in Connecticut on Saturday night. Citing concerns about his consistency and play away from the puck, Bears head coach Todd Nelson scratched the prized prospect in the Hershey’s 4-0 win over Bridgeport.
“Just as in the same case as [Hendrix Lapierre] last year, I know [Miroshnichenko] scored the goal, but you’ve got to look at what happened before it,” Nelson said, per Hershey’s Jesse Liebman. “Then there’s some missed assignments. I just want him to go up there and sit with [Dmitry] Osipov and just watch the game from up top. Sometimes when you go up top and watch the game, it kind of slows down your mind. This guy’s only 19 years old, so this is an investment in his NHL career.”
The Bears signed Osipov, a Russian-speaking veteran forward, before the season and he’s become a mentor to Miroshnichenko.
Miroshnichenko was on the ice for Karson Kuhlman’s second-period goal on Friday, looking lost on a dump in the Bears’ defensive zone. The Islanders would pick up the puck and eventually it’d cycle in front, where Miroshnichenko was unable to tie up his man.
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) November 18, 2023
Last season, after Lapierre hit a rough patch in his rookie season, Nelson scratched the 2020 first-round pick for two games as a “reset”, saying the center was frustrated and needed to raise his intensity level. The move ultimately worked, as Lapierre would be more aggressive offensively and notched a hat trick at the end of the season. He also scored the game-tying goal sending Game Seven of the Calder Cup Final to overtime, where the Bears would ultimately win and bring the championship trophy back to Hershey.
Nelson stressed that the move was not meant as a pure demotion, but that he hoped the change in perspective would help Miroshnichenko potentially see how other veterans adhere to the system better.
“There’s a lot of positives with him,” Nelson said. “He can score goals. When he wants to compete hard, he’s tough on the puck, but we just want to find that consistency. I think just one game, for him to watch up top is going to benefit him tremendously.”
Miroshnichenko has four goals and four assists in his first 15 games as pro.
Headline photo: Tori Hartman/Hershey Bears
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