HERSHEY, Pa. – To say the Hershey Bears missed Beck Malenstyn during the 2021 season would be an understatement. Malenstyn suffered an Achilles’ injury before the league returned to play, and the injury forced him to miss the entirety of Hershey’s 33-game slate last spring. With a new contract and full health in front of him, Malenstyn will be looking to continue the impressive play that earned him a brief NHL stint during the 2019-20 season and be a key piece of the puzzle in Hershey. His skills add to a very deep Bears squad that makes his return all the more exciting.
The 2021-22 season will be Malenstyn’s third professional campaign, and the 6-foot-3 forward brings a hardworking, steady presence to Hershey’s roster in a similar vein to former Bear Nathan Walker. Thundering hits along the boards and a fixture on the penalty kill, he’s a young player improving every game he skates in. Prior to the season shutdown during the 2019-20 season, Malenstyn was a point off of matching his rookie totals in nearly 30 fewer games played. With three game-winning goals and one shorthanded tally in his seven, it’s easy to see why the Caps would be so impressed with his progress so far.
Beck Malenstyn makes it 4-2 Bears!! pic.twitter.com/qhhQtaPEJ7
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) February 17, 2020
Getting back into playing form will be key for Malenstyn, and the timeline makes for an interesting road back that’s unlike anything most players will have to experience. His last game in a Bears uniform was March 8, 2020, the last game the team played before the season’s end, and when the 2021-22 season opener arrives on October 16, 587 days will have passed between games of experience for the forward. Thankfully, there will be a lot of time for Malenstyn and the rest of the Bears to get into shape before the season begins, as camps begin to open in late August/early September with development camps leading into preseason action at the NHL level, followed by the beginning of Bears camp leading up to regular-season action.
Finishing first place without the services of Malenstyn is all the more impressive for the Bears, who have relied heavily on his services over his time in Hershey and had to find other ways to fill the void this past season. With very little roster turnover at forward this summer, slotting him back in the lineup has to be exciting to see if the team can reach even greater heights with this group. Malenstyn is the type of player who would be blocking a key shot or scoring an important goal during a game in April, May, and June, and a beloved player in the locker room. His standout service in the community makes it easy to see why he’s a fan favorite in Hershey, as Bears fans respect these attributes in those who don the team’s colors.
It will be worth watching to see if Malenstyn gets any call-ups to Washington this season and if his role will expand towards power-play minutes, in addition to other special teams work. He made a habit of finding the score sheet in juniors, particularly as the Swift Current Broncos played 26 games of playoff action back in 2017-18. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him find a career year in Hershey this season as he continues to build on a solid start to his professional career, and getting more time in scoring situations will certainly help with that. It’s easy to see him as a secret weapon of sorts with how he managed to find some key goals in his career.
The Bears are building towards something special that began way back in the 2018-19 season, and it looks like there are big things on the horizon for the club in 2021-22. With Malenstyn back on the ice, the Bears should hit the ground running this season.
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