The Washington Capitals are back from the NHL All-Star Break and made another roster move, calling up goaltender Pheonix Copley from the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
It’s unclear what the reason is for the call-up. It is possible that Vitek Vanecek, who suffered an upper-body injury on Tuesday against Pittsburgh, isn’t clear yet.
Copley had been with the team back on Wednesday with Vanecek unavailable to suit up. He was originally supposed to back up Ilya Samsonov in the team’s last game before the break against Edmonton. However, Copley relieved Samsonov after the 24-year-old surrendered three goals on the first four shots again in the opening 5:07 minutes of play against the Oilers.
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The North Pole, Alaska native, was stellar in relief as he played in his first NHL game over two years. He stopped 21 of 22 shots (.955 save percentage) and came up huge to keep Washington in the game. However, a fluky shorthanded goal and an empty-netter led Edmonton to a 5-3 victory.
“Definitely was nice to get back on the ice and get a game again,” Copley said.
Copley has been on a solid stretch of late for Hershey, with a .944 save percentage through his six games. He has given up just nine goals on his last 152 shots against. Over 22 games with the Bears this season, Copley is 13-7-2 with a 2.43 GAA, .909 save percentage and two shutouts.
“It’s been a lot of fun down there. I’m really enjoying myself on the ice. My mentality was just trying to play my game when I had the chance,” Copley added.
The Capitals will return to the ice on Monday for an optional skate before they face Columbus in their first game back on Tuesday. Washington had time to regroup with the NHL All-Star Festivities, where Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson put on a show to help the Metropolitan Division win the ASG.
Through 30 career NHL games, Copley is 16-9-3 with a .903 save percentage and 2.92 GAA.