Goaltender Pheonix Copley is one of several players on the Hershey Bears’ current roster who have returned to Chocolatetown this season, after spending last year with either the parent club in Washington or some other AHL team.
“At the end of the day, I just want to be playing hockey, no matter where it’s at, but sometimes that isn’t really where you want to be so I’ll just put the work in here to get back to the NHL,” said Copley. “I’ve been through this sort of thing before, so it just means getting better and seeing where it takes me. The fans here in Hershey are unbelievable and the support they give us makes it a great place to play, and I’m excited to hear them cheering again.”
“I also had time in other systems, so I’ve been exposed to some different ways of doing things and the way the whole organization functions,” continued Copley. “The divisions and travel are different, but at the end of the day hockey is hockey, so when you’re on the ice you just do your thing and any differences just fade away.”
Last season with the Capitals ‘Cops’, as the backup for Braden Holtby, played in 27 games to finish with a 16-7-3 record that included one shutout and a 2.90 goals against average.
“I felt it was good season to get my feet wet up there and think I learned a lot of what it takes to be successful and how strong you have to be at that level,” said Copley. “I put in the work every day, so I plan to use what I learned last year to try and improve in order to get back up there.”
In his three previous stints with the Bears, Copley was the team’s 2014-15 Rookie of the Year based on his 17-4-3 with three shutouts and 2.17 GA stats. He then played 62 games with the Chicago Wolves during 2015-17 that included his initial trip to the NHL, with the St. Louis Blues, where he played twice with an 0-1 record, before coming back to Hershey for 27 games through the 2017-18 campaign, and going 24-2-0 with a pair of shutouts.
Now in the first year of a three year deal with the Capitals, Copley said: “The NHL is a bit of a different style than at the AHL level, but my view of it is it’s still hockey and my job is to keep the puck out of the net. A main difference is the guys are bigger, but it isn’t easy anywhere. There is also more hockey intelligence and the guys are a little quicker.”