BUFFALO, N.Y. – One of the best stories so far for Hershey Bears fans has been the ascension of starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the Washington Capitals. Vanecek earned the role as backup to Ilya Samsonov after it was revealed that free-agent acquisition Henrik Lundqvist would not be able to play due to health complications, and made his NHL debut on Friday night in the second of back-to-back games with the Buffalo Sabres. Vanecek made 30 saves on 31 shots, while goals from former Bears Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson helped lift Hershey’s NHL affiliate to a 2-1 victory to bring the Caps’ second win in as many games.
Vanecek was busy often, making 11 saves in the first period and 15 in the second, including a ten bell save while the team was down a man in the second period.
Highlights from @vitacz15's impressive 30-save performance en route to his first career NHL win.#CapsSabres | #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/Sd3DrdmkPf
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 16, 2021
Vanecek helped propel the Caps to the win. As is custom, he was treated to the usual antics after the game, including whip cream to the face from Wilson. Vanecek and Vrana embraced after the big win, which is always a treat.
?? two Hershey alumni thriving tonight! https://t.co/qiezW34DY3
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) January 16, 2021
The beloved Hershey netminder finished fifth among AHL goaltenders in terms of goals-against average with 2.26 during the 2019-20 season and earned his second nod as an AHL All-Star. Vanecek played in 141 regular-season games with the Bears over the course of five different seasons. Washington plays a big game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at noon, who are fresh off of back-to-back losses to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!
- Amerks Complete Comeback Over Bears in Shootout
- PHOTOS: Atlanta Gladiators vs. Reading Royals – 03/19/2023
- Wolf Pack, T-Birds Trade Goals in Wild Game
- Swamp Rabbits Shut Out Fuel on Road
- PHOTOS: Colorado Eagles vs. Rockford IceHogs – 03/18/2023
- PHOTOS: Knoxville Ice Bears vs. Macon Mayhem – 03/19/2023
- PHOTOS: Savannah Ghost Pirates vs. Jacksonville Icemen – 03/23/2023
- PHOTOS: Colorado Eagles vs. Rockford IceHogs – 03/17/2023
- PHOTOS: Adirondack Thunder vs. Worcester Railers – 03/22/2023
- PHOTOS: Huntsville Havoc vs. Macon Mayhem – 03/18/2023