Chris McGonigle has been waiting 385 days.
That was the last time he started in goal in the Ontario Hockey League for the Kitchener Rangers. He shutout the Peterborough Petes.
Saturday night he was thrust into the spotlight, starting his first game in over a year, and it was on national television. He made 30 saves against the nationally ranked Barrie Colts on Rogers Sportsnet, and the Rangers bopped the Colts 3-1.
“I felt great. My hip feels amazing. I can’t really be negative after that game,” said McGonigle. “The guys played well. There’s a couple things I want to work on obviously, but can’t be too negative.”
“He came up with a couple phenomenal saves,” said Rangers Head Coach Jay McKee. “He gave us a chance to win. For him to have that kind of game after a year off, against a pretty high-powered offence is pretty extraordinary.”
McGonigle, who came into the game in relief for Luke Richardson in Windsor last weekend, is coming back from off-season hip surgery. It’s not the first time he’s battled back from a serious injury. In his draft year, he suffered a major neck injury. Doctors were cautious he may never walk again, let alone skate.
General Manager Mike McKenzie was visibly excited for McGonigle after the game and came down to congratulate him.
“He just said, ‘Great game. It’s a long road, but once you get back, it’s pretty rewarding,’ it means a lot coming from him,” said McGonigle.
After an abysmal first period, McKee thought it was time for some more “therapy”.
“I told our guys they embarrassed themselves,” said McKee. “Our decision making wasn’t good, we had blind backhand passes through the middle of our own zone. We had guys diving at our own blue line as the last man back. We were mishandling pucks. I thought it was one of our sloppiest periods we’ve played in the last couple of weeks.”
Connor Bunnaman led the way offensively for Kitchener with two points. Kole Sherwood notched his sixth goal in the last four games.
The Rangers look to go three-for-three tonight when they host the Peterborough Petes.
Pregame on 570 News is at 5:30 p.m.