Just imagine; you’re an undrafted 24-year-old goaltender. You’ve spent the entirety of your career playing for various minor league teams and have yet to play a single game in the NHL.
Suddenly, not only do you get called up, but you’re now the starting goalie for an NHL expansion team in its inaugural season.
For Vegas Golden Knights goalie Maxime Lagace, this was an unfathomable reality.
With goalies Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk all missing significant time due to injury, Lagace was the Golden Knights’ best option to man the crease over the last month-and-a-half. And while Lagace didn’t exactly set the world on fire as Vegas’ backstop, he does deserve a ton of credit for what he was able to accomplish in a Golden Knights sweater.
Despite logging a pedestrian 3.79 goals against average with a .872 save percentage through 14 games, Lagace still managed to earn six wins and help Vegas remain competitive in what was easily the most trying period of its short existence.
He also made a few highlight-reel saves along the way that were, uh, kind of ridiculous.
And let’s not forget about the night he gifted the hockey world a heartwarming moment against the Ottawa Senators on the road. Lagace held the fort in the waning seconds of the contest to earn himself the first victory of his NHL career. To make the moment even more special, though, his mother was watching from the stands and celebrated accordingly.
Fleury is healthy again and will return to the Golden Knight’s lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday, which is music to just about everyone’s ears. While this appears to be the end of the road for Lagace, he provided us with some awesome moments in an already astounding season for the NHL’s newest franchise.
There’s only so much you can ask of a career minor leaguer tasked with an assignment as daunting as this. The Saint-Augustin, Quebec native showcased a spirited effort in his first (and possibly only) opportunity to play for an NHL team, which certainly warrants some well-deserved recognition.