Ingram wins Masterton trophy for perseverance

Ingram wins Masterton trophy for perseverance

Ingram was on Nashville’s practice squad early in the pandemic-delayed and shortened 2021 season when he went into the player assistance program and left the Predators in late January. He returned to play a handful of games for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League that spring, but it wasn’t until he sold his house and cars and moved from his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Nashville that summer that he met his fiancée and got back on track.

“I just restarted,” he said. “It was good for me, and it was good to restart.”

Ingram made his NHL debut Oct. 24, 2021 — roughly nine months after going into the program — and appeared in four playoff games in the spring of 2022 when Juuse Saros was sidelined by injury and David Rittich faltered in the first-round opener. Claimed off waivers by Arizona in October 2022, he has since made 74 starts, sharing the net with Karel Vejmelka, who has become a friend and a seatmate on buses and planes.

“Half the time when I got something I want to talk about, he wants to talk about it, too,” Ingram said. “We’re pretty similar and we think a lot the same, so he’s a great guy to have around.”

Now 27 and with Utah after the franchise relocated there to begin play in Salt Lake City in the fall, Ingram said he hopes his best hockey is ahead of him after taking advantage of the opportunities he eventually got to show what he could do.

“I felt like I was a guy who just never went away,” he said. “I played seven years in the minors and just slowly grinded my way until you get that opportunity. That’s all you can ask for is a chance, and when somebody gives it to you, you better be ready to go with it or else it’s not going to last very long.”

Utah general manager Bill Armstrong said the organization was proud to be represented by Ingram.

“Connor’s journey through adversity and his unwavering commitment to the game of hockey truly embodies the essence of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy,” Armstrong said. “Since his return, Connor has not only excelled on the ice but has emerged as an inspiration to hockey players across the globe as he continues to tell his story and emphasize the importance of seeking support during life’s darkest moments.”