Hershey Bears midseason update

By Ailyn Diaz

AHL: Hershey Bears Update

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Hershey Bears lineup has been under revision. Bears General Manager Doug Yingst thought that perhaps the team needed more grit and
presence. Underproductive 22-year-old
Colorado Avalanche prospect Charlie Stephens
with only five goals and nine assists in thirty two games was traded to the
Ottawa Senators for Dennis Bonvie. Stephens’ career, which resembles a wild
rollercoaster ride with call-ups to the Avalanche and a call-down to the Quad
City Mallard during a seven game stint, abruptly took a turn for the best with
this trade as a change of scenery did him good.

Coach John Paddock’s Binghamton Senators, Stephens scored
a pair of goals with an assist against the Albany River Rats. Doug Yingst
believes that this trade is beneficial as the Hershey Bears earn a gritty right
winger and all time penalty minute titleholder in the
American Hockey League who is able to teach new prospects defensive plays and respect
on the ice.

Jeff Finger is one such
prospect. The 24-year-old defensive
product of
St. Cloud State who earned all time
penalty minute honors in a season quickly has climbed the learning scale. In fact, General Manager Doug Yingst and Coach Paul Fixter are
both impressed with his underlying development and level of skill. At the beginning of the season, the Avalanche
rookie prospect was sent down to the ECHL’s Reading
Royals where he achieved two goals and five assists during ten games. However, the change in his style of play took
a turnaround with the addition of right winger Dennis Bonvie. Lately, Finger quickly pushes the opposition
of the puck making smart decisions in the neutral zone. He has evolved to become a player full of

Finger, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Ryan
’s adjustment to the American Hockey League has proven to be slower. In the last 45 games, the 21-year-old
ex-Brandon Wheat King has two goals, six assists and eight points. However, his defensive style is improving as
he emulates teammate Sheldon Keefe attempting to make in-your-face plays.

another young player who appears to slowly develop is Colorado Avalanche
prospect Tomas Slovak during thirty
five games, he has achieved a +8 with three goals and seven assists. His teammate and
Colorado prospect goalie Peter Budaj
still battles with consistency especially on home ice. A short-handed goal halted Budaj’s shutout streak on January 31st during a
game against the Providence Bruins. It
appears that Budaj’s downfall still lies in allowing
rebounds despite spectacular body and stickhandled

Colorado Avalanche prospect Jordan Krestanovich is yet another player stuck on the growth
chart. This speedy left winger shows
much spark on the ice earning a position as assistant captain. His fourteen game stint
with the Colorado Avalanche from November 23rd to January 5th
however was virtually unproductive despite 25 shots on goal. In Hershey, the native of
Langley, British Columbia acquired sixteen points in 29 games
and stands currently as a +5. His
strict work ethic maintains his hold as a strong prospect.

Despite a good work ethic, Mikhail Kuleshov,
Colorado’s first round pick, 25th
overall, in the 1999 Entry Draft is quite frustrated with his development. He had a subpar
sophomore year playing for the Hershey Bears in 77 games earning only 20 points. This junior year appears to be a replay of
the past, however the left winger and native of Perm, Russia has learned to use
his 6’2” frame in roughing up his playmaking skills. Coach Paul Fixter
pointed out this marked difference as he paired him in a line with rookie
center Cody McCormick and veteran Dennis
Bonvie quickly roughing it up with the opposition.

Linemate Cody McCormick made the Colorado Avalanche straight out of rookie
camp. As Michel Goulet,
Vice President of Player Personnel said about his development, “Cody is a young
prospect in our organization who is most definitely
going to be a part of our future. He has
made solid contributions to our club, but in order to improve his development
as an NHL-caliber player, he needs to play in more game situations.”

McCormick in 34 games
played for the Colorado Avalanche scored two goals, three assists and had 51
penalty minutes.