Head coach Peter Laviolette said he wanted to see Connor McMichael have some fun, score some goals and log some big minutes after the Washington Capitals assigned him to the AHL’s Hershey Bears for more ice time and development.
So far, the 21-year-old has been doing just that, and on Wednesday, he lived up to expectations with his first goal of the year with the Bears. And it was a beauty.
With Hershey down 1-0 to the Springfield Thunderbirds late in the second, McMichael, who is centering Henrik Borgstrom and Henrik Rybinski, grabbed the puck in the offensive zone and pulled off a nice curl-and-drag before sniping a quick shot past Joel Hofer to even the score.
Huge response from the lads 💪 pic.twitter.com/LrsQAtr21T
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 24, 2022
Borgstrom and Rybinski collected the assists on the strike.
McMichael’s goal marked his first professional goal and point of the 2022-23 season. He went scoreless through six games up with Washington, and amid struggles, inconsistency and a lack of ice time, he was oftentimes a healthy scratch.
It appears he’s making the most of the opportunity to get some playing time down in the minors, and that it’ll pay off as he continues to develop. And for Washington, Hershey is the best place for that to happen.
“He’s just got to play. He’s got to get out there and he’s got have great nights and he’s got to have good nights, tough nights and he’s going to score some goals and be counted on defensively and just get back to having some fun playing the game,” Laviolette said on Sunday, adding, “He needs to be play more and go down and play some hockey. Like I said, he’s excited and he’s excited just to get playing.”
Since heading to the Bears, McMichael now has more shots and points than he did during his entire NHL tenure this season. He had 18 points in his rookie year in 2021-22.
Hershey won 2-1. Mason Morelli scored the game winner.