Over the weekend former NAHL and NAPHL goaltender Pheonix Copley made his first NHL start with the St. Louis Blues.
Copley, a native of North Pole, Alaska, spent the entire 2010-11 season in the NAHL playing for the Corpus Christi IceRays and was the starting goalie the entire season. He played in 42 of 48 games for Corpus Christi. Copley was 14-23-4 with a 4.17 goals against and .880 save percentage. During his season in Corpus Christi, Copley, would catch the eyes of NCAA scouts.
Prior to that, Copley spent the previous 2009-10 season playing for the California Titans 18U team in the NAPHL during its inaugural season. In 10 regular season games he was 6-1 with one shutout and had a 2.62 goals against and .871save percentage and also helped the Titans capture the first NAPHL 18U Championship.
After a one-year stint in the USHL, Copley then spent two successful seasons at the NCAA Division I level with Michigan Tech.
Copley had some familiarity in his first NHL start with the Blues this past Saturday. Just eight days earlier, Copley played at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. He made 35 saves in a 4-2 win over the Manitoba Moose.
“That is kind of ironic, a familiar building,” Copley told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
The minor-league call-up did not look out of place Saturday, making 24 saves in the Blues’ 5-3 loss to the Jets. He made 18 of 19 stops through two periods before the game got out of hand, and in the end, three of the five goals surrendered came on the power play.
“I think you look at the scoreboard and it’s not what he might want,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “But I thought he played really well, made some huge saves for us, especially in the second, he made a big one to keep it 2-1. We couldn’t have been more confident in front of him, knowing that he was making some big saves for us.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who gave Copley the start over backup Carter Hutton, was also impressed with his first start.
“He played good,” Hitchcock said. “No issues there, he played real well. Real happy with him.”
The Blues mentioned the fact that Copley had played in the arena recently and it appeared to make him comfortable in just his second NHL appearance.
“I felt good going in and I felt confident the whole way through,” Copley said. “I think a couple of those are stoppable on my end and it’s a different game. But yeah, it was good to get in there, get in a game. It would have been nice to get the win, but I can build off it, fix the mistakes that I made and then hopefully next time I get the opportunity I’ll get the win.”