HERSHEY, Pa. – Michal Neuvirth has been through quite a bit the past two seasons, from injuries to trades to demotions based on circumstance instead of merit.
Through it all, he has remained resolute in his quest to become an NHL goaltender. Still, it would have been easy for him to see fellow 2007 draft pick Simeon Varlamov’s star turn with the Washington Capitals this postseason as the breaking point.
Instead, the 21-year-old Czech Republic native has proved his resiliency again. Neuvirth, who is one of seven players to play in both the ECHL and the NHL this year, has been fantastic for the Hershey Bears this postseason and is a big reason why they will face Manitoba in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals, which begin Saturday in Winnipeg. Neuvirth began the season with South Carolina where he is 6-7-0 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.28 and a save percentage of .918 in 13 games. The 20 year old turned aside 19 of 20 shots in the third period to preserve the win for the American Conference in the ECHL All-Star Game on Jan. 21 at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa.
“My goal is always to make the NHL, and I am doing whatever it takes to get there – and [right now] it’s playing good in the AHL,” Neuvirth said. “I’m glad [Varlamov] played good up there. He showed young guys can step up. I’m really happy with what he did. I think it is good for me, [Braden] Holtby and [Daren Machesney], so thanks to him for sure.”