The New Jersey Devils have returned 23-year old goaltender Keith Kinkaid to Albany after he came on in relief of the struggling Johan Hedberg in last night’s sixth straight loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his first taste of a professional game at its highest level.
Kinkaid, whose family made the trip from Long Island to see the game, stopped the Bolts’ Steven Stamkos on a breakaway and also allowed his first goal in the NHL.
Nevertheless, it was a big night for the young guy, who was signed as a free agent in the summer of 2011 after two seasons at Union College.
“The crowd was going a little nuts,” Kinkaid told reporters after the game. “I was shaking. Tons of emotions with my family in the stands. To get that first taste of NHL hockey is surreal. After we got into the intermission, I kind of settled down. On the first play, Stamkos was on a breakaway and I make the save. Pretty exciting.”
Now, the youngster is on his way back to the team’s minor league affiliate in Albany. Jeff Frazzee was recalled and will take Kinkaid’s place on the bench as Hedberg’s backup. The team also brought up right wing Cam Janssen.
The 25-year-old goalie is 7-9-4 thus far this season. Frazee has a 2.33 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in 21 games for the Albany Devils.
Frazee was a second round draft pick of the Devils in the 2005 Entry Draft. He played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota and has yet to make his first start in the NHL.
However, even with Hedberg giving up more than 20 goals in the last six games, coach Pete DeBoer does not have any plans to sit him.
“No,” DeBoer said when asked after the game about who the starter will be Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. “We’re going to go back with Heddy.”
Meanwhile, future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur remains on the injured reserve list and did not skate yesterday. He has not played since pulling himself from the Feb. 24 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in warm-ups with a sore back. Hedberg has been less than stellar in goal in his absence.
“I don’t have an update,” DeBoer said. “I understand he’s been seeing doctors through the weekend. I have not caught up with him yet.”
Brodeur remains day to day and the Devils keep sliding further down in the standings.