The Kitchener Rangers goalie was sitting at the end of the team's bench when head coach Jay McKee told him to get his mask on 39 seconds into the third period of Saturday's game at the WFCU Centre.
The Blueshirts trailed the hometown Windsor Spitfires 5-2 when McKee yanked starter Luke Richardson after allowing five goals on 22 shots.
"I wasn't really expecting it," said McGonigle. "It caught me by surprise. There's not much time to think. You have to go in and do what you do."
It was the Belmont native's first start in more than a year.
McGonigle was just three games into his Ontario Hockey League career when he suffered a season ending hip injury that required surgery in October of last year.