STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Comets' MacEwen reflects on 'surreal' experience with first NHL games

Utica Comets forward Zack MacEwen calls making NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks, a 'dream come true' and that the experience is motivating him to keep taking strides forward in his career.

Posted: Mar 6, 2019 12:42 AM

Utica, N.Y. - On February 11, 2019, second-year pro Zack MacEwen realized his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL, when he suited up for the Vancouver Canucks in a game at home against the San Jose Sharks.

"It was surreal for sure," MacEwen said, Tuesday, when speaking about his first game. "I had so many people reaching out from back home, friends and family, with love and support, it was awesome to see and I'm really appreciative of that."

The Canucks fell to the Sharks 7-2 that night, but MacEwen earned his first NHL point on an assist to Derrick Pouliot in the game. MacEwen said that despite the loss, it was a great experience and that getting on the scoresheet was a huge confidence boost.

"It definitely feels good, especially having my family and my girlfriend there, it was really cool," he said. "I think they were more nervous than me for the games. Getting the experience and getting my foot in the door, it means so much at this point."

As is customary in the NHL, MacEwen had to take a lap around the ice to start warm-ups, with just goalie Michael DiPietro, who was also making his NHL debut that night. In addition to the lap, his Canucks teammates wanted him to show off his hair, making him take the lap without a helmet.

"All I was thinking was stay on your feet, stay on your feet," he said about the traditional lap. "It was definitely pretty cool. I was expecting the rookie lap, but wasn't really expecting the no helmet so that was definitely a new experience too."

It wasn't until he got into the middle of game action that it really sank in that he was playing a true regular season game in the NHL.

"It was in the first game, [Markus] Granlund got kicked out of a face-off and I went in to take it and Joe Thornton was standing right in front of me," he said. "I was like, 'alright, I think I'm here.' It was a pretty cool moment."

A few nights later, on February 16, the two teams battled again, this time in San Jose. It was there that MacEwen was involved in his first NHL fight, facing Sharks right wing Barclay Goodrow at center ice of the SAP Center.

"I felt good in [the fight]," he said. "I was trying to make an impact in the game and I was happy with how it went."

MacEwen also said his family, namely his mother, enjoys that part of his game.

"She loves it," he said with a chuckle. "She doesn't mind it unless I lose, then she might not like it so much."

MacEwen said his time up with Vancouver was a great learning experience for him and that he understands better what it will take to make a full-time career up at that level.

"I had a lot of good feedback from the management up there and I think it's kind of just rounding off the details in my game," he said. "Decision making, making smart plays, puck management, stuff like that."

He also said that the pace of the game is a touch faster up in the NHL than the AHL, a common opinion among those who have played in both leagues. Still, he thinks being back here in the AHL provides him with a great challenge to continue improving his game.

"I found the biggest difference was that the time and space was a lot less," he said about the NHL style of play. "You think you have a second and then you've got guys hounding pucks and a lot closer to you. There's good hockey players in both leagues [though], so it's a tough night no matter where you're playing."

Though his first stint in the NHL was relatively short, MacEwen said that it is something he will always remember, and that it will motivate him to keep pushing to improve so that he can have a lengthy career there.

"It was a dream come true, it was unlike anything I've ever experienced," MacEwen said. "I got a taste for it now, so I'm just going to keep working to try to get back and give myself the best opportunity to stay there."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2109677

Reported Deaths: 53558
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings28056310454
Queens2772449955
Suffolk2010083400
Nassau1836243175
Bronx1834576588
New York1382444499
Westchester1296572290
Erie895721806
Richmond749601841
Monroe689591110
Orange48308843
Rockland46936963
Onondaga38928677
Dutchess29470445
Albany24696356
Oneida22614514
Niagara20033372
Broome18619366
Saratoga15362168
Ulster13907257
Schenectady13200205
Rensselaer11228142
Putnam1060592
Chautauqua8951145
Chemung7759136
Oswego762292
Ontario740593
Steuben6952144
Sullivan667276
St. Lawrence663796
Cayuga633792
Jefferson613168
Wayne578270
Cattaraugus572091
Genesee5435124
Herkimer5186109
Clinton483533
Madison456289
Livingston452060
Fulton442191
Tompkins434652
Montgomery4254126
Columbia4064104
Cortland392562
Tioga382963
Warren365857
Wyoming358153
Allegany355587
Chenango349876
Otsego346147
Greene340379
Washington316155
Orleans311883
Lewis280836
Franklin256312
Delaware237938
Seneca201156
Schoharie169217
Essex159326
Yates117826
Schuyler107414
Hamilton3132
Unassigned9211
Out of NY0249
Utica
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 60°
Oneonta
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
Herkimer
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 60°
Old Forge
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 60°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Enchanted Forest Water Safari Summer Fun Giveaway
Father's Day Giveaway 2021
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
18 Facets of Summer Photo Contest brought to you by Herkimer Diamond Mines
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Alivana Ready for Summer Giveaway
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve