Maybe someday, Wolves forward Brooks Macek will fully appreciate his 2018 Olympics experience for what it was.
He’s not quite there yet, although the confidence he gained has already impacted his career.
Macek, 26, was a forward on the German national team that came maddeningly close to upsetting Russia for a gold medal in South Korea in February. The Russians scored with 55.5 seconds left in the third period, then again in overtime for a 4-3 victory, relegating the surprisingly strong Germans to silver.
“It was a surreal experience,” said Macek, who was born in Winnipeg but has dual Canadian and German citizenship because his father was born in Geldern, Germany. “Obviously, it’s a little bitter still. We were about a minute away from the gold. Still tough to think about. [But] it was a great experience.”
Macek scored two goals during the tournament and also added two assists as part of a team that also included future Blackhawks forward Dominik Kahun. Playing — and playing well — in the Olympics helped Macek build confidence and also helped him get back on the radar of North American teams after five seasons in Germany. He signed a one-year deal with the NHL’s Golden Knights, the Wolves’ parent organization, in June.
“It was the highest level I’ve played hockey on,” Macek said of the Olympics. “The team was having some success, so I think that definitely had a pretty big influence on my chance to come over here.”
Macek has taken advantage of his chance with the Wolves — and shined again Wednesday, contributing five assists while Daniel Carr scored four times in a 5-3 win over the Admirals in Milwaukee. The five assists were one short of a franchise record (Rob Brown, 1996) and marked the first five-assist game by any AHL player this season.
Before Wednesday, Macek was drawing attention for his scoring. He entered the game tied for the AHL lead with 12 goals, scoring on 57.1 percent of his shots. Though that percentage is obviously unsustainable, Macek has clicked on a line with Carr and Gage Quinney, showing no ill effects from the transition to the smaller North American ice surface.
“I think any player starting a new season in the [AHL] wants to make an impact early,” Macek said. “My linemates have made it pretty easy on me being able to do that.”