By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – When Stingrays coach Jason Fitzsimmons signed Brendan Bernakevitch, he knew he was getting a smart, gritty, defensive-minded center man.
What Fitzsimmons didn’t anticipate was that Bernakevitch would also bring an added offensive punch to the lineup.
“Brendan certainly has been everything we thought he’d be defensively,” Fitzsimmons said. “The part of his game that has been a little bit of a surprise has been his offensive numbers. I thought he had the chance to score around 15 to 20 goals this season, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”
In 60 games, Bernakevitch has 33 points, on 17 goals and 16 assists. Bernakevitch was certainly no offensive juggernaut in the American Hockey League last season, when he posted just eight goals in 42 games for the Manchester Monarchs.
“I know what my role is and I know what I bring to the table,” Bernakevitch said. “I’ve played on the blue line before, so I’m kind of a defense-first kind of player. I’d like to think that I can score, but I know my role is to match up with the other team’s top line and try to shut them down.”
Bernakevitch has proven to be a dangerous threat on the penalty kill, coming up with four shorthand goals.
“Brendan has been great on the PK,” said assistant coach Jared Bednar. “He’s responsible defensively and he gives the guys on the point something to think about because he is capable of scoring short-handed.”
Bernakevitch has even seen some playing time at the point on the Stingrays’ power play.
“Again, it was something I did in college, so I’m comfortable with it,” Bernakevtich said. “I’ve worked hard to improve my shot, but there’s always room for improvement.”