The deck was always stacked against Zack MacEwen.
He was signed out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2017 season, and in less than two years, worked his way to the National Hockey League.
“There’s always a lesson that you’re never counted out,” Jaime Sifers said. “He’s had his critics and I think he silenced a lot of them just by being (in the NHL).”
MacEwen made his debut on Monday night against the San Jose Sharks. He was originally recalled on Sunday following his four-point effort in a win over the Rochester Americans and first learned the news while on the Comets bus from Utica to Bridgeport.
“I let (General Manager) Ryan Johnson call him and let him know,” head coach Trent Cull said. “From there, Zack and I just exchanged some texts because it was two o’clock in the morning. I wasn’t going to stand up. I looked back and saw him still awake with the light on so I was really happy for him and I knew he was on Cloud 9.”
MacEwen and Cull both arrived to Utica at the same time, and Cull has had a front-row seat to his development.
“It’s a bit of a proud papa moment,” Cull said. “Zack deserves a ton of credit. He’s worked hard at transforming his game and his body. I think he’s done a great job.”
His teammates recognize the obstacles MacEwen had to overcome to make it this far.
“He applies himself everyday around here,” Sifers said. “He’s a great person, a great character guy to have around the team. As a young guy, he’s well beyond his years. Obviously, he’s a beast out there and he’s having a heck of a year. He’s tough as nails and I’d have him on my team any day of the week.”
In 49 games, MacEwen has scored 17 goals to go along with 25 assists. His future in Utica is all of a sudden up in the air.
“You never wish for a guy not to come back,” Cull said. “You just wish for all the best for Zack.”