Sitting in front of his locker in Kettler on the verge of his 300th game, which just happened to be the Election Night Bobblehead giveaway, Braden Holtby took a trip down memory road to his days with the Hershey Bears and South Carolina Stingrays.
“It seems like a long time ago now,” said Holtby.
Indeed it was quite some time go that the Washington Capitals drafted a young Holtby in the 4th round. The following year, he was playing in the ECHL for the Stingrays until injuries forced him into action in Hershey.
Congrats to Braden Holtby on 300 NHL games. He’s changed…just a little bit during that time. pic.twitter.com/rq4D79U1Ck
— Jerlock Holmes (@OVECHKlN) March 21, 2017
“As a goalie, you have to be realistic. Most of us are going to start out in the East Coast League and you just have to keep working at your game if you’re going to make it to the next level,” he said. “You have to believe in what you’re doing to try and get there and if you’re good enough you’ll make it.”
And make it he did. In 30 games with the Bears the remainder of that season, he went 17-10-2 with a save percentage of .920 and even tallied an assist. The sky was the limit for Holtby.
The following year, he debuted with the Capitals, marking the incredible journey to #300 last night. Along the way, there have been twists and turns though.
In 2013, Holtby opted to return to the Bears during the lockout, much to the delight of the fans in Hershey. That bond between goalie and AHL organization remains solid today.
And what a success it’s been. Along the way, Holtby has now played in two NHL All-Star games, has been named NHL First-Team All-Star, and won the Vezina Trophy, but there’s one thing that is still missing, and he’s bound and determined to add it to the resume – Stanley Cup Champions.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Holtby said of his road to 300 and his accomplishments so far. “Obviously it’s something that I wouldn’t have been able to experience without this group that we have here. That’s helped a lot there and it’s something that I’ll never forget obviously, but it’s not the main goal – we’re still trying to work on that.”
With a record of 186-71-31 over the first 300 games, Caps, Bears, and Stingray fans are all pulling for that trophy and anticipate the accomplishments of the next 300 games.
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) March 12, 2017