HERSHEY, PA – Eight years ago, Spencer Carbery briefly shared the ice with now Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby. A Kelly Cup Champion in his own right, Carbery now hopes to follow Hotlby’s steps to the NHL – but on the coaching side. Today, Carbery sits just about two weeks into his tenure as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, finding himself another rung closer to any coach’s hockey dream. As he works to assemble his staff and the organization continues to piece together the roster, we take a look at some of the things which have given him success in his coaching past.
If you take a quick look at the highlights from Carbery’s young yet solid coaching career, it’s not hard to see why the Capitals think the 36-year-old is just the voice the young Bears need going forward.
|Team||Year||Position||Goals Against (Rank)||Penalty Kill (Rank)||Team Awards|
|South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)||2011-2012||Head Coach||180 (2nd overall)||82% (4th conference)|
|2012-2013||Head Coach||171 (1st overall)||85% (2nd overall)||Goalie of the Year (Ryan Zapolski)|
|2013-2014||Head Coach||173 (3rd overall)||84.6% (7th conference)||*Coach of the year;
Goalie of the Year (Jeff Jakaitis)
|2014-2015||Head Coach||163 (1st overall)||87.7% (1st overall)||Goalie of the Year (Jeff Jakaitis)|
|South Carolina Stingrays||2015-2016||Head Coach||162 (T-1st overall)||87.5% (1st overall)|
|Providence Bruins||2017-2018||Assistant Coach||187 (3rd overall)||83.1% (5th Atlantic)|
While Carbery’s ECHL teams have never averaged over 26 years of age, he managed to have quite a bit of success in the regular season, never missing the playoffs, and eventually coming a win short of a championship in 2014-2015.
Now, he finds himself entrusted with the heart of the Capitals future on the blue line whose average age currently stands at just 22. Three of the eight defenders are entering their sophomore seasons in Hershey. It’s never an easy task for a new coach to come in, but his past record cannot be ignored and may offer some hope for an organization which encountered a rare playoff miss last season.
Not only do the Caps look to Carbery to help their future blue line, they also hope his past track record with goaltenders will help in the development of their crease of tomorrow. Vitek Vanecek, who broke into the North American game via the ECHL under Carbery in 2015-2016, enters his second season as a Bear and will share the net with Capitals prized goaltending prospect Ilya Samsanov. Vanecek, en route to a career-worst 12-13-2 with a 0.888 Save Percentage last season, certainly could benefit from a fresh-yet-familiar voice in Carbery who oversaw his rookie season in North America in 2015-2016.
Samsonov, on the other hand, has played three seasons of professional hockey in Russia’s KHL as a member of Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The Russian standout assisted in bringing Magnitogorsk the Gagarin Cup Championship in 2015-16.
Carbery has already played a role in the development of Philipp Grubauer and US Olympian Ryan Zapolski with great success. The Capitals have seen that promise, and hope the trend continues for Vanecek and Samsonov.
From Cail MacLean to Jared Bednar now coaching in the NHL, the Stingrays have a history of success in the upper ranks of hockey. Spencer Carbery has had success at multiple levels of the game and now has a real shot to solidify both South Carolina’s hockey greatness, and his own, despite his younger age of 36. The task will not be easy in a hockey-hungry market with a youthful Bears team which failed to make the playoffs, but if the past is any indication, it could be a match made in chocolate hockey heaven.