Hershey Bears Camp Day 1
September 20, 2007 | Filed in: da b'ars

Having attempted to watch mostly the Bears at Caps training camp, it was exciting for me to come back here to Hershey and hear that they were doing open practices in Giant Center as well.

Despite my complete inability to find the ’security entrance’ to Giant Center (by the way, labeled “staff” and not “security”) I made it inside by about 10:30 and trekked it up the aisle to watch the practice. Only later did I realize that I’d plonked myself down in approximately the same spot I was sitting for games, and DAYUM, I have a nice seat. You can see from the pictures that you’re close to the bench, the ice, and about the only gripe I have is getting the top of the glass in all my pictures, but that’s easily fixable. I get the feeling, as I wandered Giant Center a little, that it’s really an arena with no bad seats. Sure, there are better seats than others, but none truly TRULY suck.

I came in in the middle of the first group’s session, and could immediately recognize a few of them from D.C. Beagle, McNeill and Barney were the three I could confidently pick out, as they’d spent the most time on our end of Kettler. I think Beagle and McNeill may well also have recognized me as “crazy girl with camera,” albeit this time without 6 other guffawing girls as well.

Even coming in in the middle of the drill and not quite knowing what was going on, I was impressed with the behind-net puck handling in this group of blueliners. I don’t think one of them truly bobbled back there, and they were working well as a unit. Once you took that unit and put it with others, though, it got a little rougher.
The series of drills everyone was doing were building up gradually to almost a full compliment of players, dealing with traveling and passing to one another. At the beginning, they truly looked like they were in early practice, where everyone was doing what they should have been, but nobody was really working together yet, but by the end, they already seemed to be tightening up their play and starting to anticipate teammates’ actions.

In the second team, it was the group in red who really stood out. (apologies again for lack of specific names, as everyone was in practice jerseys and the helmets were so new they had no numbers!) They were on perma-hustle the whole time, and even the coach was congratulating them on a practice well moved at the end. As a whole, the second group seemed to be more willing to commit to the drills and run it all the way through at full intensity. Again, the blueliners looked exceedingly strong to me, and had some good teamwork.

Goalie-wise, there were three at camp today, Jeff Pietrasiak, Jeff Van Nynatten and Dave Marlin. If I’ve got it right, the two Jeffs were the yellow on white pads, and Marlin was in white and black. ( Edit: I had it wrong- Marlin was yellow/black, Pietrasiak was black and white and Nynatten was yellow/grey. Okay, so I’ll get them right next time.)I was sitting as to preference Pietrasiak in the first group and Marlin in the second, and while neither of them were Luongo, neither of them were half bad. Van Nynatten’s got a good scramble, while Pietrasiak has some ridiculous glove skills.

It was fun to be in an arena with only 12 or 13 other fan-types in it, because you could hear EVERYTHING the players and the coaches were saying. The players were still in ‘haven’t seen you in a while’ pick-on-each-other mode, which was adorable, and you could tell that even though they were sweating their guts out, they were really having fun at the same time.

My two best in the stands moments? Seeing “Return of Caps Cape Man” in the form of “Bears Superfan Dude” who took more pictures than I did (no, really!) and was wearing so much maroon that he almost blended in with the seats. I also met Derek Meluzio of Penn Live’s goalie blog Stack the Pads. We had a brief conversation on the fact that Kris Mayotte hadn’t gotten to come play with the Bears even though he was doing well through camp, and it turns out that he’s actually a goalie camp instructor for an organization attached to the Caps, and had already signed to go to Binghampton Senator camp and play for the Reading Royals. Hope springs eternal, though, that the Royals will somehow completely miss how promising he is and randomly hand him off to the Bears.

And with that, I leave you with my favorite picture of the day:

HBearsTC1 028
Giant Center,
originally uploaded by Cruel Britannia.

(I’m also working on embedding the photos instead of linking to them, but Flikr’s not making it easy. I’ll crack them yet!)

All content © 2008