HERSHEY, Pa. – The Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears announced they have signed head coach Spencer Carbery, along with assistant coaches Patrick Wellar and Mike Westlund, to multi-year contract extensions. Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan and Hershey Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer made the announcement. Carbery is in the midst of his third season as coach of the Bears after he was hired prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
“Spencer has built a culture of success, and his drive, passion, and ability to get the best out of his players have made him the perfect fit for our organization,” said Helmer via the team’s release. “We look forward to Spencer, along with Patrick Wellar, Alex Westlund, and the rest of the coaching staff, leading our storied franchise to further success in the coming years.”
Carbery has accumulated an impressive 96-48-9-8 record over 161 games in Hershey, was signed as the 26th head coach in team history and guided the Bears into the second round of the postseason in his first year behind the bench. The Bears broke a franchise record during that season by earning at least a point in 17 consecutive games, jumping from the Atlantic Division basement into third place and beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the first round of the playoffs after missing the postseason the year prior to his hire.
“We are pleased to sign Spencer to a new contract,” said MacLellan in the release. “Spencer is a talented, young head coach and his track record of winning at the professional level, while also developing players, makes him the ideal coach for our top prospects. We are also pleased to extend Patrick and Alex, who have also continued to make a positive impact on our young players.”
The Bears have benefitted from Carbery’s experience, which is extensive within the organization as a player with the South Carolina Stingrays, winning the Kelly Cup in 2009 in the same season Hershey captured the Calder Cup for the 10th time in franchise history. Carbery transitioned extremely well to the Stingrays’ coaching staff from 2011-2016 and became the winningest head coach in franchise history for the Stingrays, compiling a 207-115-38 record during his five seasons behind the bench. Carbery then became the head coach of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit before joining the Providence Bruins as an assistant coach. The rest is history as Carbery was signed to become the Bears’ bench boss.
“My family and I are so grateful for the opportunity the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears provided me three years ago,” said Carbery in the release. “Since coming to Hershey, I’m very proud of what our staff has been able to accomplish from both a product on the ice standpoint, and a player development standpoint. I’d like to thank both organizations for continuing to believe in me. It’s an honor to coach in Hershey and call it home.”
Carbery is well-suited to being the head coach of the Bears. An honest and motivated coach, Carbery has been able to motivate players and bring out the best in them as they play to win not only in Hershey, but to eventually get a crack at the Washington roster. Carbery’s passion for winning and excellence is on display in every postgame interview, and he’s very genuine during any media availability. His presence is well-suited to a town with rich history and tradition like Hershey, where that mentality is expected behind the bench.
Wellar’s extension comes in his third season as assistant coach of the Bears, and brings an impressive resume within the organization, having been teammates with Carbery in South Carolina as well as winning the Calder Cup in Hershey in 2010. Wellar is well-suited to being the team’s defensive specialist and has made the Bears very difficult to play against during his tenure. Hershey has allowed the fewest goals in the North Division and second-fewest in the AHL with at least 19 games played. The mix of familiarity with the organization and his skillful transition to the role has made him an invaluable asset to the organization.
Westlund is in his fourth season in his role as Hershey’s goaltending coach, and he’s helped to give Hershey some of the best goaltending tandems during his time with the Bears. He coached the tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov in 2018-19 which now represents the duo in Washington, as well as the duo of Vanecek and Pheonix Copley last season, which was among the best in the AHL. This season, his credit extends to Zach Fucale and Copley, who have combined for another strong duo in addition to his work with Bears rookie Hunter Shepard.
The signing solidifies Hershey’s coaching staff for next season along with assistant coach Scott Allen, video coach Emily Engel-Natzke, and strength and conditioning coach Mike Wagner who are all under contract for next season.