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By Don Scott

Defenseman Connor Hobbs is back with the Bears for his third season, with one major goal, and that is simply to stay healthy since he has played in just 103 of a possible 156 regular season contests.

“My plan for the year is to stay healthy and play a full season for the first time in two years,” Hobbs said. “I feel really good now and have no issues so I’m excited about that. What I need to do is play my physical game but be smarter about how I do that by not putting myself in tough spots where I can get hurt.

“The coaches preach about control all the time, especially to me, ” continued Hobbs. “Having missed all those games in the past I know it will be a battle to get into the lineup with the guys we have here this year. Even if you’re not hurt it will still be a competition, which is good and make it a lot more fun and exciting.”

The possessor of a great shot from the point, Hobbs said, “I’d love to be able to use my shot more on offense but because of the injuries when I came back I was always just off my timing and positioning a lot. Maybe by staying healthy this year, I’ll be able to find my shot and help the team.”

When questioned about the bizarre season the team battled through last year that saw the Bears at the bottom of the 31 team league before righting the ship, the 22 year old Hobbs explained, “There was no one thing that happened last year that got the team turned around from that real bad start. It was a team effort but it all started with the coaching staff that got everybody together and we started having fun. There were a lot of doubters here and around the league so it felt good to prove them wrong. Hopefully we don’t have to go through that again.”

“Around the holidays we were in last place then had the huge turnaround getting points in 17 straight games to move into a playoff position and come just short of finishing in second place in the division,” he added. “The coaches had us prepared and we were just dialed in so much more and ready to play mentally. We won the first round but lost in the second to Charlotte who went on to win the Calder Cup.”

“I don’t know that having so many guys who spoke different languages was a communication problem on the ice,” Hobbs concluded. “I only speak English, so I have no idea what it is like coming here from another country and not speaking your native language. I can only assume that would be incredibly hard. Hockey is hockey but you can still get your points across.”

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