Saturday night, as the Colorado Avalanche came back to win a thrilling overtime game and tie their first-round series with the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Cale Makar was playing his final game for the Massachusetts Minutemen — a 3-0 loss to Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA championship.
Two days later, Makar — who was selected by Colorado with the fourth pick of the 2017 NHL draft — was on the ice for the Avs in game 3. That quick turnaround would have been impressive enough, but Makar has never settled for enough.
Late in the first period, with Colorado leading 2-0 in Denver, the rookie defenseman joined a rush, took a drop-off pass from Nathan MacKinnon, and fired a shot past Calgary goalie Mike Smith to extend the lead to 3-0.
That goal would prove the game-winner, as Colorado won 6-2 to take the 2-1 series lead. The Avalanche haven’t won a Stanley Cup series since they beat Minnesota in 2008.
Makar — who grew up in Calgary — was named as the 2019 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner for the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player on April 12.
“It’s a weird feeling playing against the team you grew up loving,” he told the Denver Post.
But that didn’t slow him down. With the goal, Makar became the first defenseman in NHL history to score in the playoffs in his first professional game.
“It was pretty weird,” Makar said. “But pretty special.”