Cale Makar became only the fifth rookie in the NHL’s expansion era (1967-68) to score a goal in his NHL debut during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The 20-year-old defenseman gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-0 edge in Game 3 of their series with the Calgary Flames when he slipped a shot through goalie Mike Smith.
Quickly skating over to congratulate Makar was Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. Celebrating in the crowd were Makar’s parents.
“It’s pretty weird. Pretty special, though,” Makar said of his first game. “Obviously, it’s a cool moment.”
Makar’s father, Gary, was in disbelief at his son’s goal.
“It’s a total surreal, pinch-me moment all wrapped into one. It’s insane,” he told The Associated Press. “Couldn’t be more excited.”
Cale Makar was only 48 hours removed from playing for UMass as a sophomore in the men’s hockey national championship game in Buffalo, where his Minutemen lost to Minnesota Duluth. He signed his entry-level contract Sunday before joining the Avalanche for his first practice in Denver on Monday morning.
Wearing No. 8, Makar jumped on the ice early in the first period Monday night and was given a loud cheer. Each time he did anything, the crowd cheered.
“You just shake your head,” his father said. “The crowd, every time he gets the puck, guys, he’s just a kid. No expectations.”
Makar’s whirlwind weekend also included winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player Friday night. He is only the second player to make his debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs the same year he won college hockey’s highest individual honor.
Tony Hrkac appeared in three playoff games with the St. Louis Blues in 1987 after winning both a national championship and the Hobey Baker a week prior. He, however, did not hit the score sheet in any of those three games.
Lauri Korpikoski is the last player to score a goal in his NHL debut during the playoffs, doing so with the New York Rangers in 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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