Bears in Hiberbnationby Marcel Cormier | December 4, 2017, 2:07 PM ET
The Goldeb Bears had reason to feel pretty good a month into the 2017-18 campaign when they boasted a 8-3 record but having lost three straight, Acadia is perilously close to the .500 mark and that isn't part of the plan.
Internally, the Bears felt they had a favorable schedule to begin the year and for the most part the wins came as expected, yet if you ask, some will tell you that they aren't happy.
"We've got six losses so far this year and half of them have come against first year teams - that's unacceptable," said head coach Dave Hakstol, "No disrespect intended to the Metros or the Rockies but no one is expecting much from those teams and I think it's fair to say that we played that way."
The Metropolitans have beaten twice in three meetings while Banff won the first ever meeting between the teams and in all of those games, the Bears were held to just two goals. Scoring has been consistent with the end result; if Acadia scores three times, they win but if not, they usually lose. Acadia has scored twice in four straight games, the last three of which have been losses.
Much was expected of Rasmus Ristolainen this year as he replaced Dustin Byfuglien as the team's number one defenceman and he's delivered. The Finn leads the team in scoring with 10 points through 14 games but as nice as that is, it also reveals a problem that the punch from the forward group has been lacking. Ryan O'Reilly, who has missed the last couple of games due to injury, is second in team scoring with 9 points including a team high 5 goals. Claude Giroux has been fairly consistent and rookie Colton Parayko has impressed early with his 7 points.
"Aside from a few guys who have lived up to expectations, we need more. Collectively, we haven't been good enough at getting pucks to the net and producing enough offence," said Hakstol, "We've only scored four or more goals in two games this year and I feel like we're overdue for an offensive breakout."
Unfortunately for Acadia, the schedule gets tougher before it gets earlier. Next up for the Bears is a home-and-home with the Quebec Canons followed shirtly thereafter by tilts against top teams like Las Vegas, Whitehorse, Vancouver Island and the defending champion Philadelphia Fire Ants.
Thankfully, injured forward Ryan O'Reilly will be back in the line up in time for the 2-game series with Quebec and Sean Courturier is a possibility as well. While two players shouldn't cripple a team, there is no question that having 2 of their top 3 centers on the sideline had an impact in recent losses.
- Acadia recently acquired former SICHL starter Michal Neuvirth from Kansas City for a 5th round pick. The move was made with next summer's expansion draft in mind considering the fact that teams will only be able to protect one goalie, Holtby will be that guy, there is a chance the team could lose Jacob Markstrom so wanted to have another veteran in place as a fall back. Acadia would then be forced to use their Franchise Player tag on a back up goalie should they choose to keep Neuvirth, an impending UFA.
- The Bears also completed a prospect trade with the Brandon Wheat Kings as they sent the rights to goalie Matt Tomkins and defenceman Patrick Kudla in exchange for Morgan Barron. Brandon GM Doug Karnes selected Barron in the 7th round during the SICHL Summit this past August but it was on the advice of Bears GM Guy Flaming. "I hoped Doug would remember that and thankfully he did". Barron has 9 points in 12 games as a freshman at Cornell.
- Michigan forward Cooper Marody is enjoying a a monster year having scored 21 points in 14 games. Wade Allison of Western Michigan is right behing Marody with 20 points and Erik Foley has 18 points for Providence College.
- In the CHL, Matthew Phillips, Tyler Soy, Giorgio Estephan, Kieffer Bellows and Jonah Gadjovich continue to impress.
- U20 camp rosters for the upcoming 2018 WJC will be relased over the next week or two and several Bears are expected to be included. Matthew Phillips and Colton Point for Canada, Americans Jake Oettinger, Andrew Peeke, Michael Anderson, Dylan Samberg, Kieffer Bellows, Ryan Poehling and Kailer Yamamoto plus Finnish players Juuso Valimaki and Aapeli Rasanen as well as Alexandre Texier who should star for France.