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One to Remember

by David DiCenzo / Columbus Blue Jackets

Scoring goals has never been the main priority on the ice for Derek Dorsett throughout his hockey career. The feisty winger from Kindersley, Saskatchewan did bag 25 once as a junior during the 2005-06 season with Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League but by no means is he a sniper.

Dorsett did look the part, however, this past Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. The 5'11", 187-pounder gathered a puck in front of Vancouver Canucks' netminder Roberto Luongo, held on to it for just a fraction of a second while the star goalie went down and promptly fired it in behind him to score the eventual game-winner in a 4-2 Columbus victory.

It was Dorsett's first goal in the National Hockey League.

"It's great to get that first one," he said after the game. "It's a big relief.

"Every kid that's played on that outdoor rink or downstairs in the basement as youngsters, you always pretend you're one of the players scoring your first NHL goal."

Yes, you always remember that first time. And the Blue Jackets have had many first-timers in the past two seasons, which makes sense given the injection of youth on the roster.

In 2007-08, players like Jared Boll, Derrick Brassard, Andrew Murray and Kris Russell lit the lamp for the first time in the Show.

And this season, a slew of youngsters have already followed suit. Rookie Jakub Voracek, playing in his first NHL game, accounted for the first goal of the Jackets' season when he roofed a quick shot into the Dallas Stars' net in a 5-4 overtime win on opening night in the Lone Star State.

Nikita Filatov duplicated the feat of his teenage teammate by scoring in his first ever game against the Nashville Predators in the home opener at Nationwide last week. And the next night out, big defenseman Marc Methot notched his first as a Jacket in a rematch with the Preds. 

"I felt a little bit silly at the time because I was pretty excited but I didn't want to make a fool of myself." - Blue Jackets Development Coach Tyler Wright

Your first goal in the greatest league in the world is a thing to savor, be it Wayne Gretzky's first of 894, which came on October 14, 1979 against Vancouver's Glen Hanlon, or in the more obscure department, Brendan Bell's (a defenseman in the Phoenix Coyotes system) lone marker in 48 games over three seasons. Each will be remembered.

"It was like yesterday," says Jason Chimera, recalling the first time he lit the lamp with the Edmonton Oilers in the 2001-02 season. "There was a turnover and Janne Niinimaa spotted me at the side of the net and I just tapped an empty-net goal home. It was fun.

"You'll remember it for the rest of your life."

Just like Voracek and Filatov, there have been other Jackets that put their name on the scoresheet in their NHL debuts. Captain Rick Nash comes to mind. He scored against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 10, 2002, the very first occasion he wore Columbus colors in the regular season.

Kristian Huselius did just that as a Florida Panther back in 2001-02, the first of 23 he would score in an outstanding rookie campaign.

"We were on the road in Philadelphia, my second shift," says the Jackets' new playmaker. "It was a two-on-one and I went five-hole on Roman Cechmanek. It was just a great feeling, my first game, too. I was excited but a little bit nervous.

"I kept the puck. It's home in Sweden."

And no matter how much time has passed since the goal was scored, it's always fresh in a player's mind, or ex-player, for that matter.

"It was a long, long, long time ago," says Jackets' development coach and former player Tyler Wright. "It was my first NHL game, I was playing with Edmonton. I had a breakaway on Kirk MacLean with the Vancouver Canucks. I deked and went five-hole. It was surreal because I had no one to celebrate with.

"I felt a little bit silly at the time because I was pretty excited but I didn't want to make a fool of myself."

This also raises the question of the manner in which you score the first goal and more importantly, who it was against. Bonus points are awarded for the level of skill involved (deflections off the helmet are less worthy than a sweet deke) and of equal importance is the question of how good is the guy you beat?

Nash's was on Jocelyn Thibault. Not bad. Chimera got one on Chris Osgood. Impressive. Voracek bested Marty Turco. Pretty good. Filatov's came against Nashville's Pekka Rinne, not exactly a household name (though the Columbus rook will surely make up for that with future goals).

Dorsett seems to have those guys beat with the marker on Luongo.

"He's one of the best goaltenders in the league," Dorsett says with a grin.

He's not sure where exactly the puck will be going but the Columbus rookie has already decided it will travel back to Saskatchewan where it will undoubtedly become one of the most cherished pieces of memorabilia in the Dorsett household.

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