It’s a day for hearts, and for hockey hearts in D.C., one of heavy hearts, as puckheads here wonder: where is our team’s heart?
Up the road a bit, in Hershey, as ever, there’s plenty of hockey heart. The Bears finished the past weekend with a pair of losses, but all that left them with in 2011 was a record of 14-3-2. They are solidly entrenched in second place in a strong AHL East division, and league observers are increasingly suggesting that the Bears are a team to watch come postseason.
This is a remarkable position for them to be in, in light of the roster ravaging endured by last year’s Calder defending champions. They lost their no. 1 netminder (Michal Neuvirth) and their top defensive pairing (Carlson, Alzner) to the Caps straight out of training camp, and Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle for healthy chunks in promotion, as well as key cogs from their championships runs in Alexandre Giroux and Chris Bourque, to greener pastures. They’ve battled big-time injury issues as well this season. But they just keep on winning. They don’t much take nights off. They wear the Bears’ crest with pride, mindful of the extraordinary expectations of the Hershey community. The players who wear the crest change, but the demand of excellence from them is unwavering.
Earlier today the Bears’ bus moved through Washington en route to Norfolk for a Tuesday night engagement with the Admirals. Some Bears were messaging hellos to Washington hockey fans from the bus via Twitter. A few of us here wished they could have stopped to play a game we could watch.