Getting to Know… Pheonix Copley

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Posted March 10, 2019

(Caps Outsider)

A native of North Pole, Alaska, goaltender Pheonix Copley’s road to the Washington Capitals roster has been full of twists and turns. Starting his journey to professional hockey with the California Titans 18U squad of the North American Prospects Hockey League in 2009, Copley ended up playing for four teams in four seasons as he tried to turn some heads in professional hockey circles.

Ten games with the Titans was followed by a 42 game stint with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the North American Hockey League in 2010, during which Copley posted a GAA of 4.17 and a SVS% of .880. A move to the United States Hockey League the following season would see his stats improve as he played 25 games with the Tri-City Storm and Des Moines Buccaneers in the 2011-12 season.

Copley would then make the switch to college hockey as a professional start drew nearer. Between 2012 and 2014, Copley played 54 games for Michigan Tech, posting an impressive GAA of 2.86 and a SVS% of .905.

Unlike many prospects, Copley did not move through the NHL Entry Draft Process, instead signing directly with the Capitals early in 2014. He now had a lot to prove as he joined the Hershey Bears for the 2014-15 season, suiting up for 26 games, seeing 17 wins and a SVS% of .925. Copley also saw action in five playoff games that year as they Bears made it to the conference semifinals.

Some strong numbers saw Copley soon winging his way west where his NHL debut lay waiting. He was involved in a trade with the St. Louis Blues (which brought T.J. Oshie to Washington) and made his NHL debut in relief in late February 2016. Copley soon joined the Blues’ AHL affiliate in the Chicago Wolves, playing 62 games for the Wolves across two seasons. Copley’s first NHL start came in January 2017 in a loss against the Winnipeg Jets which would be his second of only two games with the Blues.

As fate would have it, the Capitals came bearing gifts once again as Copley found his way back to D.C. and was reassigned to Hershey for the latter part of the 2016-17 season, again featuring in the playoffs as the Bears made it to the Division Finals that year.

Although called up to the Capitals as a backup option during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Copley did not see any game time as the jobs were handled by Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer.

Copley made the 2018-19 season’s opening night roster for the Capitals as Holtby’s backup. His first NHL victory came in late October 2018 in a shootout win over the Calgary Flames, and Copley has played 23 games for a GAA of 3.06 and a SVS% of .901 so far.

With Copley now a regular part of the Capitals’ lineup, he has proven to be a solid netminder and fantastic support for the strength that is Holtby. Though they have prospects Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, the Caps still re-signed Copley back in Feb. to a three-year, $3.3 million contract extension. The future of the Capitals net minding seems bright indeed.