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MacEwen continues to rise to the occasion in Amherst


AMHERST, N.S. – Zack MacEwen has made the most of his opportunities.

“I played with Jim Bottomley my first year here in Amherst,” said MacEwen. “He wasn’t going to hand anything to anyone, so I worked hard to earn my ice time from him and I think I kept that going throughout my career.”

The 23-year-old Stratford, PEI native was recently at Curly’s Sports & Supplements in Amherst to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Amherst where he talked about his rise to the NHL.

MacEwen started his junior hockey career with the Bottomley-coached Amherst Ramblers at the start of the 2013-2014 season and played his second season with the Ramblers under coach Josh Hepditch.

“I remember the rowdy fans and always having a good crowd and good atmosphere in the rink and how much this town loved hockey,” said MacEwen. “It was always a big hockey town and it was always fun to play home games. Even on the road in Dieppe and Truro you had a lot of Ramblers fans. It was great.”

MacEwen made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 11, 2019, scoring an assist in a 7-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

“It’s a whole other level. You have the media, the huge rinks full of people, and the speed of the game. It’s a lot to adjust to,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming at first but you kind of settle in as you spend more time there.”

MacEwen played three more games with the Canucks, road games in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose, before completing his season with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

MacEwen signed with the Canucks while playing with the Gatineau Olympiques during the 2016-2017 season.

“I realized I had a great opportunity in front of me, so I did everything in my power to be the best I could and make my game better.”

Although he always dreamed of playing in the NHL, the path to that dream was never clear.

“Honestly, I didn’t have a path set out. I was taking new opportunities that were put in front of me as my game progressed,” he said.

“I played in Amherst as a 17-year-old, I was a captain at 18, I got a look from Moncton (Wildcats) when I was 18, and I played there when I was 19,” he added. “I then got traded to Gatineau, that wasn’t planned, and then I had a good year in Gatineau and signed an NHL deal.”

He has continually improved his skating throughout those years.

“That was the thing coaches were telling me, to improve my skating, and I’ve made leaps and bounds to improve that,” said MacEwen. “And after that it was having the confidence to believe you belong where you are and being a trustworthy player and being a good team member.”

He says his Canucks teammates were very supportive.

“They want what is the best for you because they depend on you as much as you depend on them, so it’s a really good atmosphere,” said MacEwen.

Did he feel like he belonged in the NHL?

“You are there for a reason so, if you’re there, you have to believe you should be there,” he said. “Over the years I’ve learned to accept what was given to me and feel that I belong.”

He is currently training for the upcoming season, with the goal of playing for the Canucks.

“I’m giving myself the best opportunity to try to make the team and be able to accept whatever comes my way within the organization,” MacEwen said. “I’m excited to get the season going, that’s for sure.”

He’s also excited to be back in the Maritimes.

“I’m used to being away because it’s part of my routine now but it’s awesome to be home,” he said. “That’s why I appreciate my summers so much, being able to get back to PEI and being able to enjoy what PEI has to offer.”

He was also happy to be back in Amherst to help raise money for the Special Olympics of Amherst.

“Any chance to give back to the community is awesome and it’s all for a good cause, so I’m more than happy to spend a couple hours here and help out.”

The fundraiser was hosted by Dwayne Ripley, owner-operator of Curly’s Sports & Supplements.

“I didn’t know Zack at all, but I called him and he was extremely nice and wanted to help out and raise money by selling pictures and pucks,” said Ripley. “The Special Olympics is easy to donate to, and it’s one of the best organizations to donate to because they need the money.”

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