Oscar Dansk, Max Lagace played starring roles in Knights’ early success

Updated February 14, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Heading into his fourth professional season, Oscar Dansk wondered if he would ever play in an NHL game.

Max Lagace had the same thoughts. He had worked up to an NHL contract, but figured his chances were slim.

Both signed with the Golden Knights simply for fresh starts. Instead, they landed starring roles in the whirlwind story of the Knights’ first season.

“Being a part of a new organization like this, it doesn’t happen too often,” Dansk said. “I’m not bragging right now, but maybe when you’re old and you’re sitting in your rocking chair, maybe you can brag to your grandkids or something like that. It’s a cool thing to be a part of, and we’re lucky.”

With Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban at the top of the Golden Knights goaltender chart, Dansk and Lagace got comfortable with playing for the team’s AHL affiliate — the Chicago Wolves — for the long haul.

But by mid-October, the Knights’ fortunes appeared on the brink of collapse with the loss of Fleury and Subban.

There were likely other options the Knights could have chosen — instead they looked to their rookies.

“They could’ve made moves to save their season, but they trusted us,” Lagace said. “That’s a very big gift.”

Dansk was recalled first, and his stint was full of milestones. Dansk’s first full game as a Knight was a 4-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 24. Three days later, Dansk recorded the first shutout in franchise history in a 7-0 victory against Colorado, which also garnered him NHL Second Star of the Week honors.

But Dansk suffered a lower body injury on Oct. 30, and then it was Lagace’s turn in net.

In the first call-up of his career, Lagace started 11 consecutive games from Oct. 31-Nov. 24 and compiled a 5-4 record.

Two players who hadn’t envisioned themselves in NHL games proved that not only could they play, but they could flourish.

A solid support system

As they look back at their Vegas run, Dansk and Lagace said that they quickly had to adjust to their new roles, as well as the speed, shots, and passes of the NHL.

“You can’t really cheat your way through. You’ll be exposed in that league for sure,” Lagace said. “But (Knights goalie coach) Dave Prior did a really good job with us and getting us prepared for games … He did well in making us feel confident.”

Mike Rosati, the Knights goaltending development coach, spends time between Chicago and Las Vegas. He works closely with Wolves goaltending coach Stan Dubicki and Prior to monitor the development of Dansk and Lagace.

“They benefited greatly by being called up and working with Dave Prior one-on-one,” Rosati said. “The abilities are always there, but Dave is a master at getting the most out of his players and getting them to strategize better.”

Dansk and Lagace also received texts of encouragement after a game or practice tips from Fleury. Both emphasized that Fleury’s stardom is not bigger than his heart.

“The way he takes care of the younger guys, whether me, Max or Subban, he’s been incredible. You can’t say enough about him,” Dansk said. “When I’m older, that’s how I want to be.”

Dansk and Lagace returned to Chicago as more confident and secure players.

“Games didn’t always go like I wanted in Vegas, but for the most part I’m very happy with how I played,” Lagace said. “The confidence was really high, and it’s still there. Now I know what I have to prove to actually be there full-time if the opportunity comes.”

The experience strengthened a bond for the two, and they continue to learn from each other.

“When I got injured, I wasn’t with the team that much, but we both stayed at the same hotel there and I think it helped our relationship,” Dansk said. “He’ll ask me how I looked and I’ll ask him how I looked. It’s nice to not just ask coaches. You can ask your teammates, and that’s a good thing. You get a different kind of feedback.”

That reliability and poise also has meant a lot to the Knights organization.

“It’s a luxury to know that you’ve got goalies in your system that can step up and play if need be,” Rosati said. “For Vegas … it’s comforting, for sure.”

Dansk played in his native Sweden for two years prior to signing with the Knights. Lagace was stuck shuttling between the ECHL and the AHL.

Both needed a change, and no other NHL teams had given them a shot — until the Knights.

Dansk is expected to make his Wolves return soon, while Lagace is back with the Knights after an injury sidelined Subban again. Their time in the spotlight still hasn’t really hit them, but once it does, it will be something special to look back on.

“When we were in it, when everything happened, it was so quick. We didn’t really have time to look back, and be like, ‘It’s happening,’” Lagace said. “But I bet in the summer or something like that, we’ll be like, “Oh wow, that was one hell of a season.”

Contact Emily Polglaze at enpolglaze@gmail.com. Follow @enpolglaze on Twitter.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Fleury Shuts Out Anaheim
Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-0. Marc-Andre Fleury gets his third shutout on the season in his shiny new pads. Adam Hill, Dave Schoen, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Gallant on the Golden Knights win over the Ducks
Gerard Gallant discusses how key the home victory over the Anaheim Ducks was for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Knights after their 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights players talk about the 5-0 win on their home ice over the Anaheim Ducks.
Gerard Gallant On Haula And Stastny Status
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallants speaks after practice about the status of Erik Haula and Paul Stastny.
Golden Edge: Alex Tuch Interview
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz interview Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch.
Golden Edge Mailbag With Alex Tuch
Golden Knights' Alex Tuch is LIVE in-studio for our VGK Mailbag with reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill!
Golden Edge: November 12 Practice
Ben Gotz and David Schoen discuss Nate Schmidt's return to practice, Gallant's absence, and Erik Haula's injury.
Nate Schmidt On Suspension
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about his suspension.
Golden Edge: Knights Coming Home After Loss To Boston
Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights loss to the Boston Bruins.
Golden Edge: Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal
Max Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal, but it is former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar who scores the game winner for the Canadiens defeating the Knights 5-4. David Schoen reports from Montreal.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Senators On The Road
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights win against the Senators.
Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension after practice in Ottawa (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Toronto loss
Gallant on Pacioretty
Gallant on how season has gone
Pacioretty on possible return
Golden Edge: Knights Shutout the Hurricanes
The Golden Knights defeat Carolina 3-0, with Marc-Andre Fleury marking his 50th career shutout. Adam Hill and Ed Graney report from T-Mobile Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury and William Carrier on the Knights Win Over Carolina
November 3, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena.
Coach Gallant Presser
Gerard Gallant speaks after the Knights defeat Carolina 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena November 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Knights Feeling Blue After Loss In St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Gallant and Marchessault on Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault comment on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marchessault on Perron
Gallant on consistency after a loss to the Nashville Predators
Coach Gerard Gallant says the Golden Knights are playing well in stretches, but consistency has been a problem. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fleury on commercial
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about a commercial that features him in disguise as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fleury on wig
Marc-Andre Fleury puts on a blond wig at the end of practice to get some laughs.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Predators
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Golden Edge Mailbag - October 30, 2018
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz answer your burning questions about the Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Marchessault Hits Penalty Shot in OT
The Golden Knights defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime. Ben Gotz, Adam Hill, and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena.
Gallant says team's tenacity led to OT win over the Senators
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant discusses the Golden Knights win over the Ottawa Senators in overtime and how Ryan Reaves and Alex Tuch's contributions helped.
Golden Knights talk OT win, ready for road games
The Vegas Golden Knights talk about winning in overtime against the Ottawa Senators and how they will carry over that momentum on their upcoming road games.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Tampa, Pacioretty Exits Game
Adam Hill, Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Knights loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Golden Knights locker room post following loss to Lightning
The Vegas Golden Knights agreed following their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that they need to play more aggressive and be more consistent throughout the game to come out victorious.
Gallant says Golden Knights need to play hungrier
Following the Vegas Golden Knights loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Gerard Gallant says the team needs to play hungrier and be more consistent to get wins.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall Short to Canucks in Shootout
The Golden Knights lose 3-2 in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks, but announce after the game that they have signed Nate Schmidt to a 6 year contract extension. Adam Hill, David Schoen, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights coach Gallant on team's loss to Vancouver, Schmidt's new deal
Following the Golden Knights 3-2 loss to the Canucks, head coach Gerard Gallant addressed the missed opportunities and also spoke about Nate Schmidt's new contract with the team.
Golden Knights discuss shootout loss to Canucks
The Vegas Golden Knights discuss their loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the T-Mobile Arena.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like