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Makiniemi Reveals Recent ‘Tough’ Illness, Ready To End Season Strong

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

Talent isn’t the question with Eetu Makiniemi.

Makiniemi just can’t stay on the ice to show it.

In 2021-22, Makiniemi had season-ending lower back surgery. Last year, he had season-ending hip surgery. This year, he had an unrelated month-long injury in October, and mono from late January to early March.

At least this season isn’t over for him yet.

The 24-year-old Finnish goaltender shut out the Tucson Roadrunners 4-0 on Sunday and picked up a win in relief of Georgi Romanov on Mar. 20. He’s currently working on a 109:45 shutout streak.

“It’s been tough,” the San Jose Sharks prospect said after beating the Roadrunners. “Finally, I was starting to feel good and then I got mono, and it took me a pretty long time to get back from it.”

Makiniemi said it took about six weeks for him to get back on track: “It was a process, but it was also mentally a really tough situation when you don’t know when you will start to feel better.”

The last three seasons have been a real test for the 2017 Carolina Hurricanes fourth-rounder, acquired by the San Jose Sharks in the Brent Burns trade. Despite his trials and tribulations, Makiniemi has registered a solid 27-20-4 record and a .906 Save % over parts of three AHL campaigns, and also earned his first NHL victory last year.

“When you finally get something else out of your mind, something new comes up,” he said. “It’s just tough, going up and down all the time, but I’m just happy my two dogs and my girlfriend were here so it took my mind away from the hockey a little bit. That definitely helped a lot.”

The fact that his latest lengthy absence did not end his season and wasn’t anything structural came as some relief too.

“When you have the history that I have, it’s nice that it’s not anything with your body or your joints or anything like that,” Makiniemi said. “But at the same time, it doesn’t feel good to have it.”

The pending RFA, however, is glad to be healthy now, with about a month left to show the San Jose Sharks organization what he’s got: “It’s important to, first of all, stay healthy for the rest of the year and play as much as I can and show what I can do.”

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