Shane Endicott was happy to trade in his suit for a sweater.
His ankle finally healthy, the center donned his black and gold No. 23 Penguins sweater against the Flyers at Mellon Arena on Saturday for the first time since 2002. The jersey felt much better than the suits he wore while watching the team’s first 20 games from the locker room and luxury boxes.
“Yeah it was good to be in this atmosphere again,” he said. “The feeling you get before the game and the mental part of it.”
Endicott took 14 shifts and logged 8:15 of ice time in the 6-3 loss to the Flyers. He took three shots, won the only face-off he attempted and spent two minutes in the penalty box. Not spectacular numbers, but the 2000 second-round pick (52nd overall) was just happy to be on the ice.
“It was a disappointing game in the sense that we lost. It would have been nice to have a win,” he said. “For me personally, it’s a starting point and I have a long ways to go. I am going to build a little more every time I get on the ice.”
Endicott played four games and recorded an assist with the Penguins in the 2001-02 season. The 6-foot-4, 211-pounder racked up 125 points and 225 penalty minutes in 221 games the last three seasons for Pittsburgh’s top minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He was expected to lock up an active roster spot during the Penguins’ preseason this year.
However, Endicott injured an ankle days into training camp in September and was on injured reserve until Saturday. The injury was listed as a high-ankle sprain, but it was so severe that some suggested Endicott would have been better off breaking the ankle.
“There are good days and bad days,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting how it feels some days and other days it’s not.”
Nevertheless, weeks of rest and rehabilitation finally paid off for “Endo” as he saw his first game of any kind in nearly six months.
“It’s been a long time since I have been on the ice in a game. I haven’t skated in a game since May 13th. It feels good to get back out there,” he said. “I went out there and I think I made some solid plays. Like I said, I am going to keep working, do all the little things and work as hard as I can in practice and try to get to the very top of my game again.”