HERSHEY, Pa. – Like many of the younger skaters dressing for the Hershey Bears this fall, forward Joe Snively is looking forward to a full season of hockey in 2021-22. Briefly skating with the Bears in 2018-19, the 2019-20 season was to be the first full campaign for the now 25 year-old that unfortunately was never finished. After skating in 30 games for the Bears in 2021, Snively looks to be a key contributor for a team with high hopes for the return to hockey this fall.
Snively has a memorable legacy with the Bears, scoring what became the game-winning goal in his first AHL appearance during the late portion of the 2018-19 season. It was a key goal to earn an important win over the Providence Bruins, helping the Bears secure third place after ranking near the bottom of the division in the early stages of that year. He became a frequent flyer on the score sheet in his first full season, too, registering 12 goals and 12 assists in 45 games played the following year before the campaign was cut short. Snively had instant chemistry with Mike Sgarbossa, and the duo teamed up for a few memorable moments.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) December 9, 2019
Despite all the changes and unusual circumstances of the 2021 season, Snively was able to stay productive with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) over 30 games, good for sixth-best on the team in scoring. As the Bears continue to get younger and have more draft picks from the Washington Capitals join the team, having success continue for Snively will be of paramount importance, and it’s easy to see a career year for the young forward. Pairing him with Sgarbossa is an easy recipe for success, as he hit 65 points and a 30-goal season his first year in Hershey and was a point-per-game scorer in 2019-20. Playing a full season together is a storyline that’s not getting enough attention heading into the season, as the duo were largely separated during the 2021 season due to the taxi squad rule. Sgarbossa only played in 14 games for Hershey this past season.
It will be interesting to see who will join the duo on the right side. After the Capitals traded Christian Djoos for Daniel Sprong, it was he that skated with the pair for the few games they played together before the season was shut down. With Sprong graduating to full-time duty in Washington, the signing of Mike Vecchione seems to be a natural fill for that group, with Brett Leason as another option. Vecchione is joining the Bears after hitting 21 goals during the 2019-20 season and was the second-leading scorer of the San Antonio Rampage. His skill set seems similar to that of Sprong’s, and it would be easy to see him take that role. Leason is a homegrown talent that had his best year yet during the 2021 campaign, but it might be more effective to allow him to team up with Aliaksei Protas where they had a lot of success.
Joe Snively jumps on the rebound to make it 3-1 Hershey! pic.twitter.com/zUHrC6kES3
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) April 8, 2021
Whatever the situation, it seems that Hershey will be bringing its strongest group of wingers on the right side in some time, and having established chemistry between a few players will go a long way towards ensuring success this season. With Connor McMichael and Matt Moulson heading up another strong unit, Bears head coach Scott Allen will have a lot of options to utilize this season, and there’s plenty of reason to believe they’ll be running a strong lineup in the fall. Joe Snively will be one of the key players towards achieving success this season.
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