For a rookie it’s never easy in the beginning, and Andrew Gordon found that out with the Hershey Bears this season. Something was just not clicking for the Washington Capitals prospect to start the year.
“I was just having a hard time adjusting to the speed of play and finding my own niche,” the 5’11 190-pound right winger said.
He had previously had a niche at St. Cloud State. His speed, stickhandling and fight for the puck gave him an edge as he led all Huskies in scoring with 40 points in his sophomore year and then followed that up with a 45-point junior campaign. Leaving school with a year of eligibility left, his professional career began.
But his debut had no bang, no flash, and no numbers to keep him in the AHL. Hershey had a full roster, and ice time was not plentiful. Gordon was demoted to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL on Nov. 6. He was disappointed about the news.
“I was in Hershey for five to six weeks, it was just a slow transition for me there, but I knew I had to figure it out,” the 22-year-old said. “I needed to put good numbers up.”
After skating with the Stingrays, there was a spark.
“The more I played down there, I started to feel more confident in what I could do,” he said.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia native became not only more confident, but started to have fun on his shifts. In 11 games with Stingrays, the right winger accumulated 14 points. Gordon started to enjoy what he was doing on the ice more, which made him more relaxed during contests.
“I really had fun playing in South Carolina. I worked on my playing style and my focus,” Gordon said. “I got a lot of ice time that really helped me when I was there.”
It also gave him a flight back to Hershey on Dec. 4 where he’s been playing on the second line with center Kyle Wilson.
“I have really played well, I’m anchored with really good players,” Gordon affirmed. “I’ve learned a lot from them.”
In the end, what looked like a setback gave the winger a push. Getting regular shifts in the ECHL became a catalyst for a successful finish. After returning to Hershey, he finished the season in sparkling fashion. In February, Gordon was seeing an average of 14 minutes of ice time, including time on the power play.
His gritty play, which he says he enjoys, then went on display in the AHL. Gordon also has good instincts, which will give him an edge.
Although it was a turbulent start, Gordon has definitely found his rhythm. In 58 games with the Bears, he had 16 goals and 35 assists. However, his eyes are on the bigger prize of joining the NHL. Washington’s personnel have noticed Gordon’s progress. During the last few weeks, Gordon received good words from the parent club when he bumped into a couple of dignitaries in the hallway.
“I talked to [people] from Washington and they told me to keep working and doing what I have been doing," he said. “They said that I’m going in the right direction and have nothing to worry about.”
Gordon finished third in points behind Wilson and is finished ahead by a few points over prospects Sami Lepisto and Jason Morgan.
After postseason, Gordon projected that there will be a busy summer in store.
“I’m going to sacrifice more and focus more on my passing and my skating.” Gordon confirmed.
Time will be spent building his physical strength to adjust to a grueling hockey schedule.
“When you’re playing 80 plus games in a season, the body really gets beat up,” he said.
After finishing strongly in the AHL, Gordon confirmed that his confidence has grown.
“I’m still looking for the right formula that works for me,” he said. “I have faith and believe in my abilities and that I can contribute to this organization.”