HERSHEY, PA – The Hershey Bears had a talent swap ahead of their Wednesday contest against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Hershey’s NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals, recalled Garrett Pilon and Mike Sgarbossa, exchanging them with forwards Phil Maillet and Brian Pinho. Pilon and Sgarbossa have been Hershey’s top two scorers so far this season, and Wednesday’s contest will be the first action of the season for Pinho and Maillet in a Bears uniform after spending the season with Washington.
While lineup adjustments will have to be made for the Bears, it’s familiar ground for the team as Maillet led Hershey in scoring during the 2019-20 season with 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points in 61 games played. Pinho had a breakout sophomore season and lit the lamp last season, tallying 20 goals and 17 assists for 37 points in 62 games played. Maillet found success paired with current Hershey Bears captain Matt Moulson, who he teamed up with during the duo’s tenure with the Ontario Reign to great success. Bears head coach Spencer Carbery will no doubt be able to slot the duo in easily, but with the pair skating in a combined three games for the Capitals so far this season, shaking off the rust will be key in tonight’s contest.
We’re missing Bears hockey a little extra today. What was your favorite moment from this past season? Ours was the goal from Phil Maillet that capped a 3-2 comeback win before Christmas. #hbh pic.twitter.com/6HexQpaxZX
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) June 29, 2020
Losing Pilon and Sgarbossa will be difficult for the Bears. Pilon’s contributions have put him among the AHL’s best scorers with four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 14 games played. There have been only four games for the Bears this season in which Pilon has not recorded a point, and Pilon has collected eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last five games played. Sgarbossa, meanwhile, is one of three players on the Bears to score five goals, and his ten points in 13 games played ranks second on the team for scoring.
Areas of adjustment as a result of this will likely see a very different combination for the power play, as Pilon and Sgarbossa were key figures on Hershey’s special teams unit. Remarkably, Pinho scored all 20 of his goals at even strength or shorthanded during his breakout season in 2019-20, and it seems he would be a likely candidate to start getting power play time. Maillet was a regular on the Hershey power play in 2019-20, tallying five of his 17 goals on the man advantage, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back on the top unit on Wednesday. Pinho was a key two-way player since his arrival to Hershey in 2018-19, and potted three of his goals shorthanded last season, becoming a key player on the penalty kill. The swap will be a key story going into Hershey’s game action this weekend.