By Debbie Juniewicz
Dayton Daily News
DAYTON, Ohio — It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for Adam Berkhoel.
The ECHL Goaltender of the Year signed with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League last week, just days after tying the knot. The 26-year-old Minnesota native will trade his Bombers uniform for a Grand Rapids Griffins jersey as he will likely start the season with the Red Wings American Hockey League affiliate.
“The last couple of weeks have pretty much been a blur,” Berkhoel said. “But I just couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Berkhoel was the Bombers defensive backbone for much of the season as he tallied a .910 save percentage and broke the team shutout record with five.
Bombers coach and General Manager Don MacAdam said he was impressed with his star goaltender’s work ethic all season.
“Adam Berkhoel shouldn’t have been in this league this year, so I definitely didn’t expect to see him back,” MacAdam said.
Berkhoel, however, is quick to credit his Bombers teammates for his success.
“I got a lot of individual credit last season but those guys deserved it just as much as I did,” he said.
This isn’t Berkhoel’s first NHL stint. He was in the Buffalo Sabres system last season, but played only six games with Rochester, the Sabres AHL affiliate.
“When you spend the majority of your time in the ECHL it can sometimes seem like you’re going nowhere,” Berkhoel said. “But when you pay your dues, it does pay off.”
When the Sabres decided not to qualify Berkhoel after his contract was up July 1, he became a free agent. The Red Wings quickly contacted his agent.
Berkhoel was thrilled. His wife, Leigh, is from the Detroit area, so the Red Wings are a perfect fit for Berkhoel and his bride.
“The year I had with the Bombers was just great and, now, to get this honor, well it’s just an incredible opportunity,” he said. “This is the No. 1 goal for all of us.”