By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina goalie Maxime Daigneault got a little taste of the National Hockey League with the Washington Capitals this past weekend.
Daigneault would like to take a bigger bite out of the NHL next time.
Daigneault, the Capitals’ second-round pick in 2002, was on the bench for Washington’s games with Philadelphia and Atlanta.
“I want to get back as soon as I can,” Daigneault said. “I think Washington brought me up there to kind of give me a little kick in the butt and it worked. I know I’m not ready for the NHL right now, but getting to see what it’s like up in the NHL is going to make me work that much harder. I want to go back there so badly now.”
Last Friday, Daigneault was preparing for a game with the Augusta Lynx. Just minutes after the Stingrays’ morning practice, South Carolina coach Jason Fitzsimmons informed Daigneault he was going to the Capitals. Daigneault was called up after Washington’s back-up goalie Brent Johnson suffered a mild groin pull.
“I was shocked,” Daigneault said. “When (Fitzsimmons) first said I was going up, I thought I was going to Hershey (the Stingrays’ American Hockey League affiliate). At first I didn’t believe it. It was a late Christmas gift. I called my Dad and told him I was going to Washington. I think he was happier than I was.”
Daigneault said the difference between the ECHL and the NHL was immediately apparent.
“They picked me up at the airport in a limousine and we stayed at a really nice hotel,” Daigneault said. “If you have a problem, they take care of it. I appreciated every moment of it.”
Washington goalie Olie Kolzig gave Daigneault plenty of pointers on his game.
“(Kolzig) was awesome. He was really helpful,” Daigneault said. “In between periods, they’d have a guy with a laptop come into the locker room and show (Kolzig) the goals that he had given up. He had me sit beside him and I was able to see why they scored. We talked about the goal and what he could have done different. They have replays from every angle, so you can see what’s happening on the ice.”
When Daigneault returned to the Stingrays, his teammates were not about to let him get a big head.
“We jumped on the ice and (Matt) Reid is like, ‘hey we get to score on an NHL goalie now,’” Daigneault said. “Everyone made a lot of jokes, but I know they were happy for me.”