'Mom, you have to call me': Stratford's Zack MacEwen makes the NHL

Juliana MacEwen said she woke up Sunday morning with a text from her son Zack. It was good news.

MacEwen could make his NHL debut Monday night

Stratford's Zack MacEwen has been playing with the AHL's Utica Comets since 2017 when he signed a pro contract with the parent Vancouver Canucks. (Submitted by Juliana MacEwen)

Juliana MacEwen said she woke up Sunday morning with a text from her son Zack that said, "Mom, you have to call me."

It was big news — his childhood dream had come true. He had been called up to the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

The problem was he had nobody to tell.

"He found out in the middle of the night, at 2 a.m., while he was driving on a bus ride with his hockey team," Juliana said.

'Nobody to tell'

"Everybody was sleeping and he really had nobody to tell because he couldn't get a hold of anybody so the news really just starting petering through the family first thing this morning when everybody started waking up."

It was emotional when he finally got to share the news with his mother.

"It was a lot of tears, a lot of just being so happy and kind of surreal," Juliana said.

Zack MacEwen's father and uncle were in New York state this weekend to see him play for the Utica Comets, Vancouver's American Hockey League affiliate. The 6-4, 212-pound forward scored six points in the two games before getting the call from the Canucks.

MacEwen, 22, could make his NHL debut Monday night when the Canucks host the San Jose Sharks.

The Stratford, P.E.I., native played minor hockey in Pownal and Morell, then two years of junior A with the Amherst Ramblers before moving on to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Gatineau and Moncton.

He signed a contract with the Canucks in 2017 and has been playing in Utica ever since.

"It's been a long road for Zack. He has known in his own mind since he was five years old that he's wanted to play in the NHL," Juliana said.

"I'm just so, so proud."

It is the second call-up in as many days for a Maritimer. The Philadelphia Flyers recalled Philippe Myers of Dieppe, N.B., on Saturday. 

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Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.