It’s always special when your AHL goaltender gets their chance in the NHL and that’s how it has been for Hershey Bears fans watching Phillip Grubauer’s sprawling saves between the pipes for their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals. But, it doesn’t just end there for the sweetest place on earth, who was treated to receiving their ’09 & ’10 Calder Cup Champion Goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, Friday on a conditioning loan from the Capitals.
“I thought [Neuvirth] got better as the game went on, I really did. I thought he made some really big saves in the 3rd,” said Head Coach Mike Haviland. “He needs to play, he needs to play games. He even said to me right after, 'I got better as the game went on,' and I said 'you did'.”
The fans don’t mind having Neuvirth in town for a while either. With all of the movement throughout the Capitals organization this season, the fans are visually seeing the affiliations between the teams, as a player is on Hershey ice one night and on their TV screen the next. That might be due to Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates’ team-first attitude, and the fans can definitely get behind that.
For some, seeing Grubauer between the pipes for the Capitals is like seeing into the future of the organization. An organization with great goaltending from top to bottom, which will develop great goaltending for seasons to come. The fans are getting in on the goaltender love as well, Dave Null said: "To have three goalies in the system that can step between the pipes on any given night will boost the confidence of the Caps and Bears players."
Last night, through the blizzard a few thousand faithful Bears fans trekked to the Giant Center to watch their Hershey Bears suit up against the Binghamton Senators for the 5th time in 3 weeks. It was the faithful that trekked through the snow but this encouraging tweet from the Broadcaster/Dir. Of Media Relations of the Hershey Bears could have helped put the spring in their steps:
“It shows the loyalty and it shows the passion that our fans have and they are the best fans in the American Hockey League. They showed it tonight. It’s a great feeling to come out there even on a winter storm and you get thousands of people that come,” said Haviland. “It’s a great feeling to have fans like we do.”
The game could have gone either way last night. Half-way through the Sens and the Bears were tied up but due to the offensive contributions from the Bears, they were able to spring ahead and run away with the 3rd period. And, although the icy conditions continued to worsen outside, announcements were made to fans but the faithful Bears fans stayed till the end to cheer on their team to this sweet victory.