BOISE, Idaho – Five goaltenders, three games, and one night with two brand new netminders for the Idaho Steelheads.
Hey, a lot can happen in a week.
On January 10, Idaho rostered the goaltending tandem of 2019 All-Star Thomas Sholl and Dallas Stars prospect Colton Point against the Fort Wayne Komets. On January 12, Idaho signed Queen’s University (USports) netminder Luke Richardson as an emergency back-up goaltender (EBUG) to Sholl, once again versus Fort Wayne. Sholl then earned his first AHL call-up to the Texas Stars on January 15, prompting the Steelheads to sign two Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) rookies (Pensacola’s Jake Kupsky and Birmingham’s Artt Brey) for their Wednesday night home game against the Tulsa Oilers.
THE NEW KIDS IN TOWN
Kupsky has posted an outstanding 8-1-1 record, 1.78 goals against average, and .935 save percentage in 10 games with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers this season. He also earned SPHL Player of the Week honors for January 6 thru 12, boasting a 1-0-1 record, 0.99 GAA, and a .966 SV% in two games against the Evansville Thunderbolts. Also, in a fairly rare occurrence for a goaltender, Kupsky earned two assists in his first professional shutout on Friday.
Kupsky joined the Steelheads with another Union College alum, forward Brett Supinski. The two were housemates their last two years at school and on the Dutchmen. He has also played with Idaho forward Matt Ustaski in Pensacola this year, as well. Kupsky’s ECHL debut against Tulsa this past Wednesday ended in a 4-1 defeat.
In contrast, Brey hasn’t had nearly as impressive of a stat line. Starting in over twice as many games as Kupsky, Arthur “Artt” Brey has shouldered 22 of Birmingham’s 26 starts in net with a record of 7-10-4, a 3.09 GAA, and .909 SV%. There is also some familiarity in coming to Boise for Brey, however, as he was teammates with defensemen Nolan Gluchowski (2015-18) and Eric Sweetman (2015-17) at St. Lawrence University.
When asked about the loaned Birmingham netminder, The Sin Bin’s Bulls correspondent Ronald Hagood Jr. states that one needs to look beyond the numbers to truly appreciate the Yorba Linda, California native.
“(Brey) started strong [5-3-2 in his first 10 games], but the lack of blueline for the Bulls has hurt his stats. (He) had the task of replacing a legend in Birmingham. When a player is known by just one name, Mavric (Parks)…that’s a status well earned. Brey accepted the challenge; he recorded a shutout in his fourth start in Birmingham and leads the SPHL in saves.”
THE ODD MAN OUT
As exciting as it is for Sholl to earn his first AHL opportunity and both Kupsky & Brey earning their first ECHL call-ups during their rookie campaigns, one goalie seems to be lost in the shuffle. As previously mentioned, Colton Point backed up Sholl on January 10 in Fort Wayne. On January 15, Point was officially placed on reserve ahead of Idaho’s home game against Tulsa.
Now, there is a difference between reserve and injured reserve. While the latter is pretty self-explanatory, the former is often used by the head coach as a judgment call and healthy scratch from the active roster. It is pretty rare for a goaltender to be placed on reserve, especially one that’s been on an active roster as recently as five days ago. Point’s last start for the Steelheads was on January 4 in a 3-2 loss against Tulsa.
While the addition of an EBUG on January 12 raised some eyebrows, the announcement to put Point on reserve three days later was sure to leave mouths slightly agape. The former Colgate University standout, chosen in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has underwhelmed in two seasons split between the AHL and ECHL. The table below includes his statistics from both the Texas Stars and Idaho Steelheads from the past two years.
His placement on reserve is certainly a cause for concern, especially since a source close to the Steelheads disclosed that Point was actually supposed to earn the call-up that Sholl received two days ago. For unknown reasons, that did not occur. And, if there was any doubt concerning his relegation to reserve, the same source indicated that Point is not injured.
OPINION AND CONCLUSION ON POINT
With Landon Bow, Jake Oettinger, and now Tomas Sholl on the Texas netminding depth chart, one has to wonder what the future holds for Colton Point in pro hockey. His contract is an entry-level deal with the Dallas Stars at $925,000 per season through 2020-21, so Dallas would have to eat $1.85 million over the next two seasons if they chose to release him outright. As unfortunate and abrupt as these events have occurred, my thought is Dallas will be looking to trade Point in the near future (if they haven’t been actively shopping him already).
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