After being sidelined for more than three months with a concussion, Paige Skoog is once again the main man between the pipes for the Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League.
And the second-year NAHL goalie will try to backstop the Eagles into the North Division playoffs with nine games to play in the regular season.
Two points out of the fourth-and-final playoff spot in the North Division, the Eagles will play host to the second-place Michigan Warriors this Friday and Saturday at Pullar Stadium.
Game times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Skoog returned to the Eagles net last weekend after being on injured reserve since November 20 and promptly stopped 74 of 80 shots as the Soo split a pair of games with the first-place Port Huron Fighting Falcons, winning 4-3 and losing 3-1.
For Skoog, it was good to get back into game action.
“Not having played for so long I was rusty and I was a bit nervous going in but I settled down and thought I played pretty well,” said Skoog on a recent edition of the Hockey North Show on ESPN 1400 Radio.
Eagles coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo was happy with the return to duty of Skoog, a 6-foot-1, 200 pound, 1994 birth-year from northern Minnesota.
“He gave us a chance to win both games and that’s all you can ask of your goalie,” Bragagnolo said of Skoog.
For the season, Skoog has a so-so record of 5-8-1 but with impressive numbers that include a 2.74 goals against average and .926 save percentage.
“I try not to think about my numbers even though I know that’s what a lot of coaches and scouts look at,” Skoog related. “When I am in the net my focus is on where the puck is and trying to be in the best position to stop it when it comes at me.”
Skoog said focus and the mental aspect of the game are what he regularly discusses with his Eagles goaltending partner of last season, Tyler Marble, who is now at Colorado College on a full-ride, Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship.
As for the Eagles pursuit of a playoff spot, Skoog is a believer.
“Hockey is a team game but I know that all good teams need good goaltending to win,” Skoog said evenly. “I have a good feeling about our team and that we have what it takes to get into the playoffs.”
PHOTO: Soo Eagles goalie Paige Skoog. (Photo by Mark Krupiarz of SandMark Media.)