Monday morning might be the final time some Bears players ever walk though Giant Center as a Bear. As the 2013-14 season comes to a close, the Bears players took some time to reflect on their season as they cleaned out their lockers. It was a surreal moment for all as Hershey missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
Many players had different things they reflected on from this past season. Below, we look at some points that the guys touched on.
Nate Schmidt on getting a chance with the Caps and Bears:
I’d like to thank both Hershey and Washington for giving me the opportunity to develop here and develop my game in order to get to the NHL level and stay there. It was a tremendous experience for me in my first year, getting some games up here and playing here. Two great organizations and you can’t ask for much more, besides getting in the playoffs. Just for me personally, I had a lot of fun this year.
Matt Watkins on playing in the town of Hershey:
It’s a great place to play. The attendance speaks for itself when it comes to fan support. I just bought a coffee today and a guy said to me ‘Tough way to end the year,’ so there is a great fan base here. They do a lot for the community and the community does a lot for them.
Tyson Strachan on why the Bears didn’t make the playoffs:
You can probably think back to the beginning of the season. We dug ourselves a pretty big hole. I think 88 points is going to get you in the playoffs most years. It’s been 25 years since an AHL team had 88 points and didn’t make the playoffs. You can think back over the year and think of the stretch at the beginning of the year and the game in Worcester where we had the lead going to the final four minutes of the game and gave up those points. It took a while for us to come together as a team. It took us a while to dig ourselves out of the hole and in the end we came up a little short.
Dane Byers on where me might end up next season:
I made it clear I wanted to be back here. How ever that shakes out, hopefully it happens soon. My wife and I both love it here. We had our baby boy here so we’ve got good memories. The organization is first class. I’ve been on a few in this league and this is by far the best place to play. We want to be back and hopefully it all works out.
Nathan Walker on his first pro experience:
It was awesome. These are a great bunch of guys and I had a really fun time. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my pro hockey career in North America. It was a fun time and a really good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot here. This is a really big eye-opener to me. I really thank everyone for what they did and how much they pushed me to be a better guy and a better player too.
Julien Brouillette on his NHL experience this season:
I learned a lot. I learned about the game and what I need to improve on and what was to get me there. Overall, it was a great experience. Hopefully it will carry on to free agency or the next Caps camp next year. Hopefully good things come out of it.
David Leggio on season ending so early:
Right now it’s sunk in that the season is over. I think everyone is pretty disappointed. I’ve never been done this early. I’ve always been on teams that have been in the playoffs. It’s disappointing with the expectations we had. I never thought at any point in the season that we wouldn’t make the playoffs.
For uncut, full length interviews, check out the video below. All the times at which each interview begins are below.
Nate Schmidt 0:01
Matt Watkins 1:32
Tyson Strachan 3:00
Dane Byers 5:32
Nathan Walker 7:52
Julien Brouillette 9:19
David Leggio 11:23
Jeff Taffe 14:13
Special thanks to our friends at abc27 for the footage.