Pheonix Copley signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Capitals on March 19, 2014. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound goaltender appeared in 30 games for the Michigan Tech Huskies in 2013-14. The 22-year-old posted a 10-13-6 record with one shutout, a .911 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average in that span.
Since you’re from North Pole, Alaska, what is Christmas like in North Pole?
It’s obviously fun there and special. It’s a big tourist thing. They have candy cane light poles and stuff like that.
Did you ever get involved in any of that stuff?
I was always away during Christmas. With hockey we always had tournaments during Christmas and once I left to play down in the States I wasn’t there for it. But it’s fun, I guess they have a little Santa Clause house for the kids to go to, so it’s a fun time there.
What did the hockey scene in Alaska look like while you were growing up, and at what point did you realize you needed to leave to get serious about hockey?
It’s tough for scouts to make it up there. There are a couple of Division 1 colleges up there but for the other schools it’s tough to get up and watch kids. Growing up, I played there until I was 17. We did go down to tournaments which helped for the kids there to get out and get seen, but for the most part it’s good to get away and explore down in the States because that’s where it’s easy for scouts to go and watch. That’s the most beneficial and that’s why I decided to go.
If you’re from North Pole, was there a team there you played on or was there a more regional team?
Fairbanks is about 15 miles from North Pole and Fairbanks is a decent sized city, so that’s where our team was based out of and we travelled to Anchorage and places like that to get our games in.
Have you always played goalie?
I started forward and I have an older brother and we played mini sticks in the house and he needed somebody to shoot on so eventually I was the one he started shooting on, and I enjoyed it and thought it was fun. So, the next year, when we signed up for hockey I decided to go for goalie. I enjoyed it a lot and was having fun so I stuck with it.
Does your brother still play hockey?
No, (Navarone) played juniors and a little bit of college Division III.
Is there significance to your names?
I don’t know where my parents got his name from, but after they had his name they decided they couldn’t have another regular name, they couldn’t have a Navarone and a Bob, or something, so they had to come up with another creative one.
What is the best thing and what is the worst thing about living in Alaska?
The best thing is probably the summers up there. There’s a lot of outdoors stuff to do like fishing, and camping and all sorts of stuff like that. If you like that stuff. For me, that’s what I really enjoy. It’s a nice time to get away and relax.
The worst part is probably the winters up there, if you live there full year round the winters are pretty rough. They are dark and cold, so that’s probably the worst part about Alaska.
Did you play a lot of outdoor hockey up there?
Yeah, when I was up there in the winters we had a rink in our backyard and the lakes are frozen so we would go out on the lakes a couple of times and there are outdoor rinks at schools and stuff. Outdoor hockey is pretty big up there.
How excited are you to playing in Hershey?
I’m excited. Wherever they put me, I’ll work hard. It’s exciting to be a part of this organization. It has a good reputation and a lot of good people and a lot of good coaches so I’m really excited for it.
For development camp this week, what has been the highlight for you?
It’s been a really big highlight to work with the goalie coaches. It’s always good to get an opportunity to work with goalie coaches like that. Being on the ice with them, and getting one-on-one time with them, and figuring out what to work on, and figuring out what are the strengths and weaknesses has been a lot of fun. It’s been great for me. I’ve really enjoyed that and it will be the biggest thing I’ll take away.
Is there something specific about their approach this week that has stood out to you?
It seems like their approach is to make sure you come away a better player than when you came in and try and get better every day at forming good habits. I think that’s been really beneficial to me and to a lot of other players too.
What song is at the top of your playlist right now?
It would probably be a country song… I don’t know… I wouldn’t say I have a favorite band. I listen to country music, I don’t even know what artist, I just go to Country Top Hits and download the top hit or so. Country music is my favorite.
— Deborah Francisco (@NHLgirl)