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Back to the Caps organization paying Priskie |

Patrick Features Writer

Chase PriskieHis career decision last summer mixed my new acquaintances a bit.

In 2016, the Washington Capitals selected Priskie in the sixth round of the NHL Draft. But he never signed with the Capitals, instead joining the Carolina Hurricanes in 2019 after four standout seasons at Quinnipiac University.

He went to Florida on a February 2020 deal that we posted Vincent Trocheck Hurricanes. He signed with Buffalo for the 2022-23 season, facing Anaheim that March. Four pro seasons, six AHL stops – Charlotte, Springfield, Syracuse, Charlotte (again), Rochester, San Diego.

Last year's trade to the Ducks organization sent Priskie from an eventual Eastern Conference finalist in Rochester to a San Diego club en route to a last-place finish in the 32-team AHL. But he has prepared well playing freely, scoring seven goals and six assists in 16 games with the Gulls.

On July 5, Priskie returned to the Capitals organization on a one-year contract, and he has a great opportunity to pursue the Calder Cup in the deep postseason run he made. His first two seasons were cut short by the pandemic, and his Charlotte team was defeated by Springfield in the 2022 divisional finals.

Priskie is busy with this playoff game – “Big time,” he said – as he and the Hershey Bears open the conference finals against Cleveland tonight at the Giant Center. Tied for the league lead among defensemen with six assists and seven points this season, and a league-best average of nine rebounds, Priskie did his part to help the cause after leading all Hershey blueliners with 34 points (eight, 26 goals). assists) in 69 regular season games.

Bringing in Priskie last summer made sense from all sides. The Bears had returned the same blue line that captured the Calder Cup last year, but Gabriel Carlsson's departure to the Swedish Hockey League created an opportunity for an experienced hand in the backfield to provide depth to the organization.

Priskie fits that need. On a team that can't pressure opponents on most nights – the Bears lead the AHL in goals-against (2.10 per game), shots-against (25.97 per game), and in penalty kill (87.7%) – he gives the Bears something. different. He can skate and distribute the puck, but he can also accelerate the play with intensity. He doesn't hesitate to shoot, either, with his 104 shots on goal leading Hershey blueliners in regular season play.

Like any offensive defenseman, Priskie has to play with some risk in his game. The Bears play more of a straight game, though. They attack when there is an opportunity. If there is no game they don't force it. But the Bears were able to find a balance to incorporate Priskie's ability to push the game, to perhaps do something that wouldn't have been possible otherwise, with that straight line hockey the team employed.

“It's like a melting pot,” Priskie said of the Bears way the head coach developed Todd Nelson and assistants Nick Bootland again Patrick Wellar. “They set the standard from day one, then they expect everyone to maintain that standard throughout the season, and we build on that as the games and months go on.

“It's just being on the same page. The main thing for us is to play our style because you need five guys who are dedicated to playing our system.”

That commitment is put to the test as the regular season progresses, however. With each passing cycle, sticking to those team-wide goals will become harder. Cleveland plays a dogged, physical game that will wear down opponents. And if the Bears advance to the Calder Cup finals, Coachella Valley or Milwaukee will surely present a major obstacle.

“From the first game to the 72nd game, teams tighten up defensively,” Priskie said. “They are strong in neutral, and scoring five out of five goals is getting harder and harder as the season goes on.

“And I think that when the playoffs come, the big thing is that the level of those who are killed is increased a lot. The level of play is very fast, and physical. One mistake, one miss in a game can lead to a goal in the back of your net. That's why playoff hockey is so exciting.”

So as the game around him has changed, so has Priskie's game. Nelson was an offensive defenseman during his 12 seasons, and he understands the importance of allowing a gifted player like Priskie to use those skills. But playing for Nelson and the Hershey coaching staff also allowed Priskie's defensive game to become even stronger, making a successful transition from an offensive lineman to a linebacker in a long playoff series.

“It's definitely a competitive game,” Priskie said of the postseason. “You play with most of the same lineup in one, two, three, four, five games [all the way to] Game 7. It's all changes. It's all the times. It's every game and you just want to pressure teams, and I think we do that with our physicality and our swing.”

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