The last time Michal Neuvirth was at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, he made 24 saves in Game 7 of the Calder Cup final to clinch Hershey’s championship in 2009 and wrap up a postseason MVP for himself.
Neuvirth is one of four players — along with Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Mathieu Perreault — on the Capitals squad that visits the Jets Thursday that was a part of that Calder Cup winning Bears team. Understandably, they all have good memories of Winnipeg, and especially Neuvirth, who will likely to get the start from Coach Bruce Boudreau here.
“It’s probably the most beautiful hockey memory I have so far. I’m never going to forget,” Neuvirth said. “That city reminds me of like Edmonton. They got pretty nice rink and I’m pretty excited to see it [Thursday].”
Neuvirth went on to win a second Calder Cup with the Bears in 2010 but during that first championship run, the year he was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the playoff MVP by the AHL, he went 16-6 with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
“He was lights out the whole playoffs,” said Carlson when asked of Neuvirth’s performance that year. “He’s one of those goalies, I think in big games he always seems to step up big and he’s young now and it’s a great league but he’s getting better every day and you see his work ethic. It’s going to work out.”
On a slightly unrelated note, in 2010 Carlson’s first game back with the Bears after he scored the game-winning goal for Team USA against Canada at the World Junior Championships was in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose. The Winnipeg faithful didn’t take kindly to his presence then.
“It was kind of funny, I think that was the first time I ever got booed and it shows how passionate they are about it,” Carlson said. “It was fun. I guess it was a good thing they were doing it.”