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Stint in NHL helping Lagace succeed with Wolves

Max Lagace took something from his time in the NHL.

Before getting called up to the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 22, Lagace appeared in four Wolves games and was a middling 2-2 with a 3.24 goals-against average and .888 save percentage. Since returning on Dec. 10, Lagace is 3-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .941 save percentage, and he has been a big part of the Wolves’ five-game winning streak.

“We worked a lot on my reading plays and how I challenge the play. I guess I could say my reads are better, and I feel like I can challenge more and kind of trust my instincts better,” Lagace said.

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Lagace getting that chance in the NHL likely wasn’t part of the plan. With Marc-Andre Fleury taken in the expansion draft, Malcolm Subban claimed off waivers on Oct. 3 and Oscar Dansk signed in July, the first-year team looked set in goal.

Then injuries happened, and the 24-year-old Lagace, who had never played in an NHL game, found himself shuttling between Chicago and Vegas. His first call to the NHL came on Oct. 15 before going back to the Wolves on Oct. 19 without appearing in a game.

Lagace returned to Vegas three days later and finally saw action when he replaced an injured
Dansk on Oct. 30 in a loss to the
Islanders. He made his first start the next night in a loss to the Rangers and got his first win on Nov. 4 against Ottawa for one of the most surprising teams in league history.

“It’s been very nice, a very cool experience for me,” Lagace said. “I got to learn a lot about the game [and] myself.”

In 14 appearances with Vegas, Lagace went 6-6-1 with an .872 save percentage and a 3.79 GAA. No, the numbers weren’t great, but he helped keep the first-year team afloat until he was sent back to the Wolves.

“I felt good in net and the goalie coach [David Prior] really helped me out. The boys helped me out too up there, to make me feel comfortable with the team,” Lagace said. “I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it made it much easier for me to get settled in there and feel confident that I could lead the team.”

NOTE: Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz was voted the 2017 U.S. Soccer female player of the year. Ertz, a member of the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions, also was named the Young Female Player of the Year in 2012, making her the third player — along with Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath — to win both awards.

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@BrianSandalow.