Kostenko Kicks Into Gear With Pro Debut

Posted December 29, 2012

Sergey Kostenko faces shots during the 2012 Capitals Development Camp (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

It’s been months in the making, but the Caps 2012 7th Round draftee Sergey Kostenko made his professional debut tonight in Reading with a 5-4 win over the Trenton Titans (and an assist as well as a W).  The twenty-year-old goaltender has been waiting in the wings since signing with the Hershey Bears over the summer, a casualty of a lockout which left the Capitals development system with five goalies to fill four slots amongst their affiliates.  The indefinite departure of Brandon Anderson has opened up a slot for the Russian netminder, and tonight Kostenko was deemed fit enough to take his turn in goal.

Sergey Kostenko gets his first look at Kettler during Development Camp.

Sergey Kostenko got his first look at Kettler during Development Camp this summer.

The Capitals have a solid track record when it comes to prospects in net, but it’s important to judge each goalie on their own merits.  Kostenko’s win tonight was tempered by a save percentage of .862 and four goals against.  It was a rough third period for the rookie, with three of those goals against occurring in the last ten minutes of play.  Two of them were during shorthanded situations (one 4-on-3, the second 5-on-3), the result of a heavy penalty count while the clock wound down.

To be fair, it was a gongshow of a final frame for both benches.  There were multiple fights (3), game misconducts (5), a spearing incident (Trenton’s Matt Mangene), and a match penalty against Trenton’s Justin Taylor for Attempt to Injure.

It’s a good sign to see a win from Kostenko after such a long gap in play.  The hope is that he’ll continue to settle in, and provide Coach Courville with a reliable second option for the nights when he wants to rest Philipp Grubauer (the team’s primary starting goaltender).

Tonight was the team’s last home game of 2012.  The Royals face the Titans in Trenton tomorrow to wrap off the calendar year, with a record of 22-7-1-1 after 31 games.  That’s good enough to have them sitting on top of the Eastern Conference, and tied with the Alaska Aces for best in the league (the Aces hold the tie-breaking higher number of W’s, at the moment).  Their next home game will be next Saturday, January 5, at 7:05 against the visiting Elmira Jackals.