The Washington Capitals announced on Monday that goaltender Hunter Shepard has been recalled from AHL Hershey. The recall is made after Darcy Kuemper pulled himself out of the game in the second period against Calgary on Saturday night.
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ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have recalled goaltender Hunter Shepard from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Shepard, 27, has posted a record of 6-0-2 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in eight games with Hershey this season. The 6’0″, 215-pound goaltender ranks first in the AHL in goals-against average and save percentage and tied for ninth in wins. Shepard was named the AHL Goaltender of the Month for November after posting a record of 6-0-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in six games played.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) November 24, 2022
The Cohasset, Minnesota native appeared in nine games with Hershey during the 2021-22 season, finishing with a 5-3-0 record with one shutout, a 2.06 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Shepard also appeared in 23 games for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, posting a record of 12-9-2 with a 2.88 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and two shutouts.
In 20 career AHL games with Hershey, Shepard has a record of 14-3-2 with a 1.80 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage and two shutouts. Shepard has a 24-15-4 record with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 44 career ECHL games with South Carolina.
Shepard signed an AHL contract with Hershey on June 30, 2020, following a four-year career with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the NCAA. In 119 games with the team – which included an NCAA-record 115 straight games from Oct. 21, 2017 to March 7, 2020 – Shepard finished with a 76-37-5 record, ranking first all-time in Bulldogs history in wins, goals-against average (1.94), save percentage (.922) and shutouts (17). Shepard won back-to-back NCAA Championships with the Bulldogs in 2018 and 2019, was twice named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Goaltender of the Year (2019 and 2020), earned First-Team All-American honors in 2019 and Second-Team All-American honors in 2020. Shepard finished his NCAA career as a three-time Mike Richter Award Finalist – given to the NCAA’s top goaltender – and a three-time All-NCHC selection.
Shepard was made “unavailable to the team” for yesterday’s Bears game in Hershey, signaling his likely recall.
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.
— Rog-eh Pahj-eh (@rogerapage) December 5, 2022
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