Michael Giugovaz will never forget the week he made his OHL debut for both good and sad reasons.
Last Tuesday, the 17-year-old Peterborough Petes rookie goalie attended two funerals. Two nights later he saw his first OHL regular season duty replacing Andrew D'Agostini midway through a 5-2 loss to the Oshawa Generals. On Saturday, he made his first start and not only picked up his first win, he earned first star honours stopping 39 shots in a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67's at Scotiabank Place, home of the NHL”s Ottawa Senators.
Talk about a whirlwind of emotions.
The Brampton native attended the funeral of Elizabeth Hulan the mother of one of his closest friends Cody Hulan. The same day he also attended the funeral of Gene Odulio a former classmate at Brampton's St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School who collapsed and died during a high school football game.
“It was very emotional, tough, going to two funerals on Tuesday,” said Giugovaz. “I'm glad I was able to go and management let me go. I hope they both rest in peace and their families stay strong because I know it's difficult what they're going through.”
It was especially tough to see his good friend Cody lose his mother, a woman Giugovaz knew well.
“He's a great friend and a great guy. He's one of the strongest kids I know and has a lot of great friends. It's really tough it had to happen to him of all people. I wish him all the best,” he said.
Giugovaz admits it was hard to focus in practice on Wednesday.
“It was hard to get over it but the guys are here to support me and the management is here to support me,” he said.
So to have such an outstanding performance in his first start brought joy to Giugovaz especially after his team struggled through an 0-5 pre-season and opening night loss.
“It meant a lot to the team and to me,” said Giugovaz. “The boys played great and made my job really easy. My defence stepped up and blocked a lot of shots, the same with the forwards. It was a great effort by everyone.”
The fact it came in an NHL arena – the 67's are playing two seasons at Scotiabank Place while their own arena is renovated – added to the excitement.
“It's a great place to play. It's so big and it was really surreal. I felt like I was a five-year-old kid in net,” he said. “I was a little shaky the first period but the boys supported me pretty good.”
The Petes committed to Giugovaz last year as their goalie of the future. He had an outstanding year with the OJHL's Georgetown Raiders last season posting a 21-5 record with a 2.12 GAA, .919 save% and three shutouts. Getting to the OHL was his goal.
“It means the world to me. It's my goal and dream and I'll keep pursuing it,” he said.
Some observers think he'll push D'Agostini for playing time if the veteran stumbles. Giugovaz resists any notion he and D'Agostini are in competition.
“He's a great guy. I just want to build off him and learn little things from him. He's one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. He's always in the gym doing something. Of course, I want to play as much as I can but D'Agger is a great goalie and there is nothing bad I can say about him.”
The Petes host the Erie Otters 7 p.m. Thursday at the Memorial Centre. They visit the Oshawa Generals Friday.
Story Courtesy of email@example.com