Shot In Goal: Former UNH Starter DeSmith Making Plays in NHL
Casey DeSmith has come a long way in four years.
In 2014, DeSmith was the starting goalie for the men's ice hockey team at the University of New Hampshire before a series of unfortunate events led to his arrest and dismissal from the team.
DeSmith pleaded not guilty to assault and resisting arrest charges and reached a diversion agreement that included drug and alcohol counseling as well as performing community service. That agreement led to the dismissal of his charges.
Fast forward to 2018 and his life is back on track. He’s not only playing in the NHL but thriving with the two-time back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to some help from Mike Buckley, DeSmith's goalie coach at UNH.
Buckley also runs the GDS Goalie School here in New England.
After Buckley was named The Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltending development coach in 2015, he suggested they sign DeSmith to the Penguins ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers in West Virginia. Signing his first pro contract was great; however, he sat on the bench as the third goalie on the Nailer depth chart.
DeSmith worked hard every day in practice but didn’t get a start for his first four months in professional hockey. He finally got his shot later that season, playing 13 games posting a 2.55 goals-against and a 0.915 save percentage. The Pens were impressed, and he got called up to AHL Wilkes-Barre where he played in six regular season and nine playoff games that year.
His performance was good enough to earn a full time promotion to AHL Wilkes-Barre for the 2016-17 season where he shared the net with Penguins goalie prospect Tristan Jarry. He had a great season with the Baby Pens and was named to the AHL All Rookie Team that year.
Injuries and other circumstances opened the door for DeSmith to be called up to the NHL earlier this season and most recently to get his first-ever NHL start. DeSmith took full advantage of his opportunity and played brilliantly going 3-1 in four consecutive starts over the past couple of weeks.
This season with the Penguins, DeSmith's goals-against is 2.24 and his save percentage is 0.926 while posting a 3-3 record. What a long strange trip it’s been, but DeSmith’s Wildcat fans wouldn’t have it any other way!