Lo, the Cuts Begin – 11 Migrate from Hershey to Reading

Posted October 5, 2012

Philipp Grubauer warms up while on temporary assignment to the Hershey Bears in March, 2012 (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating – it’s a very brief drive from Hershey to Reading (just under an hour, in fact).  Unfortunately for eleven players at the Hershey Bears’ training camp, it’s a drive they made this Thursday evening after being reassigned to the Royals’ training camp.  Trickle-down is inevitable during a lockout, and so nine players in Reading found themselves with walking papers as well (one defenseman was on an ECHL contract, the other eight were on try-out agreements).  The news comes on the heels of Hershey’s first preseason game, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators.

Amongst those tagged as having some learning to do, the biggest name is undoubtably goaltender Philipp Grubauer (who was, coincidentally, in net for the above-mentioned loss).  After a stellar showing with the South Carolina Stingrays last year, the German goalie had been a favorite to contend for the starting position in Hershey this fall.  Braden Holtby‘s reassignment to the AHL means that the former-ECHL Golden Goalie may be spending his second professional year in the ECHL just to log more ice time.  Grubauer missed his last two post-seasons in a row, due to a bout of mononucleosis in 2011 and wrist surgery in early 2012, and there are quite a few people eager to see how he performs on the bigger AHL stage.  Despite this setback, it’s virtually guaranteed that he’ll see some time in Hershey if he can stay healthy – once the season (and injuries) begin, the call-ups can be fast and furious.

Grubauer is not the only familiar face making the trek down 422.  He’s joined by three fellow members of the Capitals organization, along with some 2012 Development Camp attendees.  Goaltender Brandon Anderson and defenseman Dustin Stevenson are  both currently on entry-level contracts, and the Caps hold 2012 draftee Sergey Kostenko‘s rights, even though he’s currently on an AHL/ECHL contract with the Bears.

David Civitarese sports the now-defunct 2011-12 Hershey Bears Thirds Jersey.

The D-Campers are a bit more peripheral when it comes to notoriety, but should still be recognizable.  Forward David Civitarese played ten games for the Bears last spring, making the jump to pro as soon as his college season ended (and missed the Calgary Stampede in the name of professional development).  Forward David Vallorani recently completed his NCAA eligibility and signed with the Bears after a strong showing in the five scrimmages held during D-Camp.  The trip to Reading marks a return to the ECHL for defenseman Scott Wietecha, who spent last year playing with the (now-disbanded) Chicago Express.

Rounding out the caravan were four out of the five Reading Royals who had received invitations to attend the Bears’ training camp.  Defenseman Brad Walch, who was signed by the Royals on August 17th, was released from his ECHL contract by the Royals after his dismissal from Hershey.  The total number of players dismissed by Hershey stands at twelve.

Hershey’s camp roster now stands at 31, with three preseason games remaining (Friday in Hershey v. Binghamton, Saturday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Sunday hosting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

Note: There was initially some confusion regarding the status of Brad Walch (D), who was listed as released from Hershey but not in the list of players who arrived in Reading.  The Royals released him from his ECHL contract this afternoon.