WINNIPEG, Manitoba | Michal Neuvirth’s greatest career achievement – so far – came June 12, 2009 – and it came at MTS Centre.
That was when he made 24 saves to wrap up the Calder Cup for the Hershey Bears and the playoff MVP trophy for himself.
“it’s probably the most beautiful hockey memory I have so far and I’m never going to forget [it],” Neuvirth said.
Neuvirth will be in net Thursday night for the Capitals at the Winnipeg Jets as he returns to the site of that beautiful memory that capped off a beautiful playoff run. He was 16-6 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in those playoffs.
“I think it was the first time that we really knew what Michal was all about,” said Caps radio announcer John Walton, who held that position with the Bears. “We was kind of the X-factor because he didn’t have any playoff experience. With able to jump in and do what he did, by June we knew we had something special on our hands.”
Neuvirth said the run taught him about what it’s like to play hockey in big-time situations at the professional level.
“It gave me a lot of experience,” he said Wednesday. “In the playoffs you’re playing under a lot of pressure. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the NHL or AHL, it’s still a lot of pressure, especially for goalies.”
Thursday won’t be the same kind of pressure as Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals, but it’s still an NHL game in a city that has been waiting 15 years to get a team back.
Ondrej Pavelec is set to get the start for the Jets.