My First Time - NHL Goal
It's a milestone they will only achieve once in their career and something they'll never forget.
In hockey, like in everything else, there's a first time for everything and players remember some of those like it was yesterday.
While they'll all remember scoring their first goal, everyone's experience is different. Four players remember their first NHL goal.
Kevin Bieksa stayed under the radar after spending four years in college before making the leap to the professional ranks.
He played four games with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL upon graduating from Bowling Green University. He played a full year with the Canucks farm team through the lock-out season, where he had 12 goals and led all defencemen in scoring with 39 points (12-27-39) that year.
He split the next season between Vancouver and Manitoba and through 39 NHL games, had six assists but no goals. In the fifth game of the 2006-07 season, Bieksa tallied his first.
"It was on the powerplay and I kind of snuck into the slot and Jan Bulis passed it to me, got the puck past him just under the bar."
"I was very happy, very elated. I had gone 50 games in the NHL before scoring that first goal so I was starting to feel the pressure a little bit so it took the monkey off the back. It was good to get the first one of the way and many more to come."
Even with the excitement of the goal, Bieksa, true to form, kept himself composed, despite a pep talk from a colleague.
"John Shorthouse and I were talking about it before and he wanted to see a big celebration after I scored my first goal so after the goal he said he was a little disappointed in me because he expected to see a bigger celebration."
He didn't have to wait as long for his next goal, scoring 11 games later and finishing the season with 12 goals and 42 points (12-30-42) in his first full NHL year.
Where it is now: "My dad has it back home in his office. I’m not sure if it’s mounted - he says he’s going to mount it - but I’m sure he’s got big plans for it."
Centre, 36 NHL goals
TEAM: Florida Panthers
FIRST GOAL: April 7,1999 vs. Boston Bruins
GOALIE: Byron Dafoe
Three years after being drafted by the Florida Panthers, Ryan Johnson played in his first NHL game and finished that year with nine more with two assists to his name. He split the rest of the season with the Beast of New Haven in the AHL, where he spent most of the 1998-1999 season.
He was called up to play in one game in December 1999, and scored his first NHL goal in the only NHL game he played that year.
Johnson recalls the goal vividly.
"It was a pass from a defenceman to a winger and chipped it between their defenceman and I came in through the seams, had a breakaway and scored."
"It happened so quick. everybody’s first goal is kind of special so it was a lot to digest. My family was watching at home and it was a big deal for them so a lot goes through your mind."
Johnson ended the year with one NHL goal and 27 points (8-19-27) in 37 games with New Haven.
Where it is now: "They did a great thing. They actually put it in this plaque, it had the date, who we were playing, and everything on it. It was a first class thing that they did and something I’ll always carry with me."
Centre, 69 NHL goals
TEAM: Vancouver Canucks
FIRST GOAL: November 29, 2003 at Calgary
GOALIE: Jamie McLennan
As a first round pick in a very strong draft year, which included Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Dion Phaneuf, and teammate, Steve Bernier, expectations were high for Ryan Kesler.
After a year in playing for Ohio State University, Kesler made the decision to go into professional hockey.
He split his rookie season between Vancouver and Manitoba. Kesler played 28 games with the Canucks in the 2003-04 season and finished the year with two goals.
Kesler's first came in Calgary in his fourth NHL game.
"I got a pass from Trevor at the top of the circle and I got it in low blocker."
"It wasn’t loud when I scored, it was totally quiet."
"You always remember your first one. I’ll probably forget a lot of goals but I’ll never forget that first one."
Kesler scored again 20 games later against Nashville, where he also added an assist on a goal by Trevor Linden and earned his first multi-point game of his career. The final decision there was 2-2 in that game.
Where it is now: "I think I gave it to my dad so he might have put it on the wall at home."