The St. Louis Blues are in DC for a cross-conference matchup with the Capitals on Friday night and they’re bringing a rookie starting netminder with them. Joel Hofer is that netminder and will be tasked with stopping Alex Ovechkin and crew inside Capital One Arena.
Hofer was recalled from the Springfield Thunderbirds on Thursday on emergency recall status due to the suspension of Jordan Binnington. Binnington is serving the first game of his NHL-levied, two-game break for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Hofer made his NHL debut with the Blues last season and has two career starts for the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. He is 1-1 with a 3.07 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage.
His younger brother, Ryan Hofer is a Capitals forward prospect. Ryan was drafted by the Caps in the sixth round of the most recent draft and signed his entry-level contract with the organization in early March. Ryan has 65 points (39g, 26a) in 60 WHL games this season.
The older, goalie Hofer spoke to the media pregame about his chance to get in an NHL cage this season.
“It’s obviously nerve-wracking,” Hofer said. “There’s going to be nerves, but I think that’s normal with everybody. Just trying to come here, play my game, and have fun.”
The 22-year-old backstop has had a great season in the AHL for Springfield, making 40 appearances and recording a 22-14-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
Hofer was named to the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic and was the league’s Player of the Week for the first week of March. He didn’t plan on another year in the minors but it has worked out pretty well for him.
“Back in Springfield, I was playing lots of games,” Hofer said. “We have a good group down there. It’s a lot of fun, but obviously, the goal is to be here, and I’m here now for however long. Obviously grateful to be here.”
"I'm just trying to come here and play my game and have fun."
Goaltender Joel Hofer will get his first start of the season Friday vs. the Capitals. Hear from him and head coach Craig Berube in today's @ford Gameday Report. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/JrBc5zkMQd
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 17, 2023
The Blues could use some stability in net as they’ve given up 250 goals this season which is the most in the league’s Central Division and sixth-most among all NHL teams.
“He’s got a lot of swagger to his game,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said. “Plays the puck well. He’s athletic in net. Good size, big goalie. Mentally, he’s up for the challenge more than anything. I think he exudes a lot of confidence and has good ability.”
Puck drop between the Blues and Caps is at 7 pm ET and it will be Darcy Kuemper across the rink from Hofer in the other net.
Screenshot via @StLouisBlues/Twitter
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