MORE FROM THE BEARS
The American Hockey League announced today that Hunter Shepard of the Hershey Bears has been named the AHL Goalie of the Month for November.
Shepard, 27, recorded a perfect 6-0-0 record in six starts during the month, posting a 1.63 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage for the Chocolate and White. He stopped 147-of-157 shots, and his strong play has helped the Bears climb to top of the AHL standings.
Shepard opened November with a 30-save performance in a 4-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Nov. 6. He then allowed only one goal in each of his next four starts, including 2-1 victories over Bridgeport (27 saves) on Nov. 12, at Springfield (26 saves) on Nov. 23, and at Hartford (30 saves) on Nov. 25. In the Nov. 23 game, he made a diving glove save that earned him the #2 play on ESPN Sportscenter Top 10. Shepard finished the month leading Hershey to a 4-3 shootout win over the Penguins on Nov. 29.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 24, 2022
Shepard is the first Bears netminder to earn this honor since future NHL All-Star Braden Holtby was named the AHL Goalie of the Month nearly 10 years ago in December 2012.
In eight appearances with the Bears this season, Shepard has a record of 6-0-2 and ranks second in the AHL with a 1.83 goals-against average and third with a .932 save percentage. The native of Cohasset, Minn., is 14-3-2 in 20 games with Hershey over three pro seasons, with a 1.80 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage and three shutouts. Shepard played four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, winning national championships in 2018 and 2019.
The soft-spoken Shepard was (quietly) signed at the end of his collegiate career, and got right to work with ECHL South Carolina. Shepard split the last two seasons between South Carolina and Hershey, biding his time. He signed a two-year, $750,000 AAV contract with the Capitals on July 28, 2021 and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.
“It’s been good. I’ve liked all the goalie coaches. I’ve liked all the coaches and the staff, really good teammates. Everyone makes you feel welcome. They give you things you need to succeed, wherever you are. It’s been good,” Shepard told Bears Radio back in training camp.
Shepard knows he still has work to do in order to make it in the NHL, but for him, the biggest leap forward in his level of play has come from having a consistent goalie coach and building a relationship with the goaltending coaches in the organization.
“I think every goalie has certain things that maybe you can’t really teach them. Whether that’s size or that’s reading the play well or just your instincts. I think being able to work with a goalie coach full time is just going to help me even more. The somewhat limited time I’ve got to spend with “Westy” (Alex Westlund) the last two years, I can just feel my game get so much better, so I’m excited to have a chance to be here the whole year, and get to have that every day.”
By Jon Sorensen