The regular American Hockey League schedule of just 36 games has passed the halfway mark, and Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery took some time to talk about several different areas that fans have been asking him about, starting with his contract extension.
“We started talking during a time when we weren’t sure if there would be a season and things were put on hold for some time until we started playing again and were in the last year of the current contract,” said Carbery. “It was an easy decision for me so we were able to come to terms. The Capitals make decisions management-wise on the fact they believe winning is really important in the AHL for the young prospects they want to develop to get to the NHL.
“My first year I was here, we had a very young team with maybe nine or ten first-year players that made it tough sledding,” continued Carbery. “During that time, as we got these guys up to speed, it was decided we needed to make some decisions to make the team competitive. That was important to me because it shows they wanted development, but they also wanted to win.”
On a more personal side, Carbery said, “Every day I consider myself to be lucky to come to work here at the Giant Center and for Washington to instill in me their trust to lead this team into the future and I don’t take my job lightly.”
“We bought a home here, the kids go to go school here and play youth sports, and the whole community atmosphere is a place like non other that we have been in the past,” Carbery added.
Since the Bears and the Capitals joined hands in 2005, the one consistent thing has been the goaltenders that have been signed and advanced to the NHL, and this year is no different/
Carbery pointed out that, with Pheonix Copley and Zack Fucale, “We were rotating them, but then switched recently and started Copley in two straight games because we felt he played so well in the first one that he deserved to go again in the next one, the same when Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov were here in my first year. Washington absolutely has a say in who they would like to play on any night so we get together with Alex Westlund who also has input on those decisions.”
Another question had to do with the chance of any kind of post-season games for Hershey. Carbery was willing to offer his thoughts on the subject, knowing full-well it was a decision he would not be part of.
“I’d like to play seven-game series all the way to the Calder Cup, but of course that definitely will not happen this year,” said Carbery. “The first problem for any post-season games is they have to be finished by May 31, so that limits you to just 14 days. That eliminates any best-of-seven series, and even a best-of-five. There is also the situation where if two of the top four teams don’t want to play it makes it very difficult to see any way there will be post-season games.”
The final area had to do with current players who are expected to be in the NHL in a very short time like Connor McMichael, Alex Alexeyev, Aliaksel Protas and Martin Fehervary.
“It has been very beneficial for Connor to get these pro hockey reps to prepare him for what will be a long pro career, and secondly it has been a learning process that includes me getting him ready to play in the NHL because I know some of the stuff he is going to be required to do,” Carbery said. “This summer, the Capitals are going to watch everything he did to determine if he will be ready to come up to them.”
“Defenseman Alex Alexeyev hit the ground running and looks like he has matured physically and mentally, while elevating his intensity,” continued Carbery. “As for center Aliaksel Protas, who has only played a few games for us so far, he has gotten better recently and is getting more comfortable.”
Closing out his review, Carberry said, “The challenge for Martin Fehervary is that Washington has a bit of a log jam on the back-end and despite his being ready to move up, it just isn’t happening for him right now, so he has to stay sharp every game and not let up in any way.”