Goldman Says: “Copley is a late-blooming prospect with great flexibility for his size and really good structure to his low game. His patience and calm demeanor are also impressive traits at his age.”
10-19 vs. Minnesota
First shot came 1:33 in, and was a very routine clear shot along the ice that he deflected out of play with his stick, making the save way outside the blue paint … gave up bad rebound off his left shoulder on a good chance on the following shift after MTU took a 1-0 lead … absorbed a long shot from inside the blue line off his stick and covered it through traffic … gives up a 4-on-4 goal after making a left pad save with his left knee off the ice, which caused a bad rebound back into the slot, then the loose puck was chipped over to a wide open Schmidt … swallowed up a routine floater, making the save completely outside the blue paint … stopped nine of 10 shots in the first period … beat 2:50 into the second period after a bad read, sliding to his right post, getting caught deep on a wide-open Bjugstad, who sniped him short side over the blocker as he was recovering back to his skates to try and challenge the shot … was screened on a slap shot from the point, but perfect positioning at the top of the crease allowed him to make a nice glove save, one he didn’t even see … an active stick poked away a loose puck of a pad save and ended up turning it over … outside the blue paint on a chance by Haula with 8:11 left in second period and absorbed the mid-height shot … three really good saves on the PK in the final five minutes of the second period while up 4-2, the biggest one coming on a shot that was tipped in the low slot and snagged with the left toe … stopped seven of eight shots in the second period … looked even more comfortable and controlled in the third period … only faced two shots in first six minutes of the third … made a good save off his left post going paddle down on a broken play … made a routine save on a one-timer from inside the blue line with 12:13 left, no rebound … strong left pad save on a charging drive towards the net by Bjugstad with 11:13 left … beat with 2:10 left on a PK on a good shot by Boyd on the weak side after he pushed to his right and stretched out the blocker but puck beats him underneath … big save with 1:43 left when Minnesota had a pulled goalie, covering a loose puck in the crease … makes three timely saves on the ensuing shift, diving out on his stomach to cover a loose puck in traffic … very impressive final two minutes and finished with 12 saves on 13 shots in the third period … finished with 28 saves on 31 shots
) GRADE: A-
10-20 vs. Minnesota
Not tested much in the first 10 minutes, but clean execution on his first shot with just 3:07 into the game on a point-blank wrist shot down low … committed early on a deke by Bjugstad during an UM power play, who went backhand and lifted a puck that went off the post … faced just five shots through the first 13 minutes … good right pad save on a chance from the slot at 13:25, sealing the ice then sticking away the rebound as it comes off his pad … huge blocker save on a one-timer by Bjugstad from bottom of the right circle by making a great push and extension and staying upright. … gives up a rebound through traffic, can’t corral it, puck drops on Ambroz’s stick and gets beat on the put-back at 17:45 … makes a tricky stop with a few seconds left on a severe-angle shot from Haula, squeezing the left arm to his side … stopped 10 of 11 saves in the first period … good stick save on Ambroz in the slot just 2:25 into the second period, staying big and square in the butterfly … tremendous right-toe reflex save off a shot from the left point, the puck sticks in the crease and he stretches out just enough to get a skate on the put-back chance at 14:40 … well outside the paint on a shot by Schmidt at 9:45 … beat on a shot by Haula at 11:34 through a screen by his own defenseman, beat under the blocker and over the right pad, maybe the only bad goal he allowed all weekend … great instinct save on a broken play in front of the net with 1:58 left in the second period as a puck is fired through traffic, deflected down off the ice, hits him on the left arm, and is swatted away as it’s falling back to the ice … finished with 10 saves on 11 shots in the second period … Solid and sound in the first seven minutes of the third period, absorbing low shots and building a solid wall … great stop with 5:23 left on a 2-man rush and a tip in the low slot, again, making the save at the top of the crease with a wide butterfly … beat with 3:35 left in the game on a great wrist shot by Ambroz from 12-15 out, inside the top half of the right faceoff circle … almost beat short side by Bjugstad with 3:05 left in the game, but puck falls down his back and into his pants … finished with 31 saves on 34 shots and 11 of 12 in the third (boxscore) GRADE: B
Scouting goalies is all about tracking and evaluating development, so when a prospect makes the jump from the USHL to an NCAA program with a former NHL goalie volunteering as the goalie coach, you pay attention.
Knowing that Pheonix Copley has the guidance of volunteer goalie coach Steve Shields, I’ve added the Alaska native to the Prospects Library. It was also a good time to do so, as his first NCAA challenge was against the #1-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers on home ice, making this a perfect opportunity to see how he would compete in the biggest games of his life.
And he did not disappoint, splitting the weekend with an upset on Friday night.
At 6-foot-3, Copley is very flexible and mobile for his size. He will certainly want to “bulk up” as time goes on since he’s listed as weighing just 175 pounds, but the fact remains that he’s a very athletic goalie with better-than-expected skills.
Throughout his weekend series against Minnesota, I was impressed with his footwork and technique. Many examples popped up where he utilized things like the Reverse-VHS, a sign he’s getting quality coaching from Shields.
Another impressive aspect of his game was his ability to challenge shooters and actually make saves off his goal line. Most 6-foot-3 goalies will stay just inside the tip of their crease, but not Copley. He will challenge shooters and step out and make himself extremely big in the net. But at the root of his game is that pure flexibility.
“Pheonix’s flexibility at this point of his development is a double-edged sword,” Shields explained. “Because his athletic ability is such a gift to him, he must learn to harness it and use it when it’s called upon. But knowing when to ‘sell out’ when a sure goal is imminent is something that Pheonix can do better then almost any goalie I’ve seen at this stage.”
Combined with his impressive quickness and size, Copley has an active stick and does a great job of cutting off passing lanes. He has a good crouch on faceoffs and keeps his back straight, another sign of his natural flexibility. He does not display any visible tension either, so this relaxed presence allows him to be smooth while shuffling, recovering, and sliding.
Like you see with most progressive butterfly goalies, Copley executes good slides with good hip rotation and a solid seal to the ice with his pads. He recovers quickly for his size and can push laterally with a lot of power.
“This kid is the real deal,” Shields continued. “When he tracks better, his patience is going to get him to the next level. Other than that, he has a patience and calmness beyond his years. Once he understands when to raise the level of intensity, he will be in a great position to succeed. I love this kid.”
As a freshman, Copley’s biggest obstacles will be consistency, both with his approach and technical elements like his rebound control. A number of shots against Minnesota came hard off his pads into the slot or danger areas, and some shots off his stick would be poked back into dangerous areas, as opposed to being swallowed up or appropriately placed.
“Copley has strong lateral pushes,” said former goalie coach Dave Rogalski. “He makes good reads from behind the net, and with his frame, it’s tough to get anything down low on him on jam plays. He’s also a late-bloomer, and he will only get better during his time at Michigan Tech. He uses the standard 5-spot movement drills every day and is very flexible for a big kid.”
Copley made a number of timely saves over the weekend, including in the second period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss. He made a tremendous right toe save off a shot from the left point on top prospect Nick Bjugstad, then showcased his flexibility by stretching it out even further to get a skate on the put-back chance. A minute later, Michigan Tech scored to tie the game at 1-1, so he can make the timely save with poise and focus.
Overall, I was very impressed with Copley’s ability to shine in such a pressure-filled situation. To know he jumped from the USHL to the NCAA and beat the top-ranked NCAA team is an impressive addition to his growing resume, and he’ll gain tons of confidence as a result.
I don’t expect to see him play at that level on a consistent basis all season long, especially since Michigan Tech is rolling with three goalies this season. But regardless of what the stats show, he has the juicy traits every scout wants to see in a prospect; natural athleticism, good size, coachability, and late-blooming skills.