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Tale of two Coquitlam goalies: Express alum signs new NHL contract, another plays for Canada

Clay Stevenson led the Coquitlam Express to a BC Hockey League regular-season championship in 2019-20.
Former Coquitlam Express goalie Clay Stevenson has been one of the top netminders in the American Hockey League this season, where he has 10 wins and four losses with the Hershey Bears.

Former Coquitlam Express goaltender Clay Stevenson has a new three-year contract with the Washington Capitals.

The deal could pay him as much as $2.325 million. The first year of the agreement is a two-way contract for $750,000 if he’s playing for the NHL team or $200,000 if he’s on Washington’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

The subsequent two years of the contract are one-way that will pay him $750,000 a season regardless of where he plays.

Stevenson, who signed with the Capitals as a free agent in 2022 after his sophomore season at Dartmouth College, has played most of the season with the Bears. He has 10 wins, four losses and a 1.79 goals against average, tops in the AHL. He’s also registered four shutouts.

Stevenson, 24, has been called up twice to dress for the Capitals as backup to starters Charlie Lindgren and Darcy Kuemper but he didn’t see any game time.

Stevenson played three seasons for the Express and led the team to the top of the BC Hockey League standings in 2019-20 when he won 30 of his 35 starts and had a miserly 1.77 goals against average.

But his playing time that season was abruptly cut short just as Coquitlam embarked on a playoff run the team hoped would lead to a Fred Page Cup championship by an obscure NCAA rule that aged him out of junior hockey on his 21st birthday so he could retain his full academic eligibility. 

Stevenson stayed with the team though, to mentor it through a first round sweep of the Langley Rivermen before all hockey activity was stopped by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Coquitlam goalie Thomas Milic is playing for Canada’s team at the 95th Spengler Cup in Switzerland. He allowed two goals on 18 shots before being pulled after 47 minutes in a game against Davos on Thursday.

Massimo Rizzo, who played for the Express in the 2019-20 season and is currently at the University of Denver, is also part of Canada’s team.

The Spengler Cup is a tournament of top European club teams and a Canadian national team comprised mostly of collegiate players and pros toiling in Europe or minor league teams in North America. 

Milic, 20, was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round of the 2023 NHL Draft after leading the Seattle Thunderbirds to the Western Hockey League championship last year. He was also named the most valuable player of the playoffs and the league’s goaltender of the year.

As well, Milic backstopped Canada to a gold medal at last year’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

He’s spent most of this season with the Norfolk Admirals in the ECHL with a record of 9-2-1 and a 2.44 goals against average. He’s also played twice for the Jets’ top minor league team, the Manitoba Moose, where he has a win, a loss and a 3.74 goals against average.