Mac Engel has received a second chance at life in the Western Hockey League.
The Prince George Cougars acquired the 19-year-old goaltender Monday joining 17-year-old rookie Brett Zarowny and struggling sophomore Devon Fordyce.
Engel was cut loose by the Spokane Chiefs a couple of weeks ago after losing the battle with fellow 19-year-old Eric Williams to man the net this season. In exchange for Engel the Cougars transferred a fourth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft to the Chiefs.
"It's just awesome to get the opportunity to play again," said Engel. "It was kind of hard sitting at home, not playing anymore. I'm just ready to get back on the ice. I've missed it."
Engel said he expects to arrive in Prince George in time for his new club's game with the Calgary Hitmen (6-1-1-1) tonight, 7 p.m., at CN Centre.
In two seasons with the Chiefs, Engel played in 88 regular season games posting a 42-28-3-4 record with a 2.56 goals against average and an .899 save percentage.
Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson said it was an easy decision to pick up a player with Engel's resume to help out the young defensive core the team has.
"We're a good team and can compete but we need to be better and give up less goals here," said Thompson. "Now we're looking to make ourselves stronger."
The Cougars (5-3-1) are battling the Victoria Royals (7-4) and the Kamloops Blazers (8-0-0-1) for top spot in the B.C. Division, but hit a speed bump last weekend dropping two games in Lethbridge (3-2 loss) and Medicine Hat (7-2 loss). Zarowny has played well for the Cougars this season posting a 4-2 record with a shutout, but 18-year-old Fordyce has struggled and was yanked after 20 minutes in two of his three starts.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark said his club "badly outplayed" the Tigers in Medicine Hat in the opening period Saturday but the Cougars trailed 3-1.
"Every game there's been a goal that hasn't been good," said Clark. "It's not a good thing. When you're a goaltender for me you've got to stop all the easy ones and most of the hard ones, not most of the hard ones and some of the easy ones. There's been some communication issues when it comes to being behind the net."
Thompson said the Cougars will go with the three-goalie rotation for now, mainly because Engel has only worked out in the gym and not on the ice in the past couple of weeks.
Engel said he was about to give his old Alberta Midget Hockey League team, the Red Deer Optimist Rebels, a call to see about getting some ice time with them when he received word that the Cougars traded for him. Engel won the AMHL championship with Red Deer in 2010 with a 6-0 playoff record and a 1.21 goals against average.
He said he's excited to join his new teammates and help them in their battle for first place.
"It's gonna be nice to be a role model almost to the younger guy," said Engel. "From what I've heard about [Zarowny], is he's a good kid, he works hard and I'm really looking forward to working with him."
Engel said he was surprised when the Chiefs sent him home but he's grateful for the second chance.
"I've just got to keep on working hard and wait for my next opportunity and make the best of it," he said about his attitude while awaiting a trade. "I'm really looking forward to going to a good organization like Prince George. I heard it's a good place to play, lots of travel, but still a nice place to play with a really good coach. I've heard they get treated well and they're off to a good start this year so I'm looking forward to joining them."
It won't be long before Engel faces his ex-teammates as the Cougars and Chiefs have a triple-header on deck, starting Saturday in Spokane and continuing next Tuesday and Wednesday at CN Centre.