In the third period of last Sunday's game with Nashville, the Nationwide Arena crowd erupted when Public Address Announcer Greg Murray read off the details of the Blue Jackets' second goal of the game. Their boisterous reaction was partly because the goal trimmed a Nashville lead to one but mostly because of who scored it.
"The Blue Jackets goal is his first of the season scored by No. 45 Jody Shelley!"
Shelley, the beloved enforcer for the CBJ who has suited up in 335 career games in five seasons, ended a scoreless drought in 58 games this year by crowding the crease and putting the puck past Predators goaltender Chris Mason.
"I don't even know what happened," Shelley said of the blur of events in front of the net that got him his first point of the season. "It's been a frustrating year for all of us, but it's nice to get a goal."
Ken Hitchcock, the Jackets' straightforward head coach, chimed in, as well. "It was an ugly goal. It was one of those goals (where) you crash the net, the puck pops free and he puts it in."
Shelley, calling it a "lucky bounce," will take it. Though he's had several scoring chances this season, the left-wing tough guy hadn't capitalized until Sunday. He chose an excellent time to light the lamp with the Jackets facing a two-goal deficit against one of the league's best teams.
"I would have taken it any night," he said. "But the timing was good and the situation was right where we're in the third period, not much had been done, I took a bad penalty (roughing) earlier in the game, and it worked out that I got one more shift."
No. 45 has earned the adoration of the CBJ faithful by never backing down from anyone. He's logged 101 PIM minutes this year, second on the team to defenseman Alexander Svitov's 108, and 957 PIM for his Blue Jackets career. That total makes him the franchise leader in the category.
"You like that stuff," he said of the fans' support. "You like the way it feels because you forget after so many games."
As the season reaches its twilight, the Jackets have made several personnel changes and recalled younger players from AHL-affiliate Syracuse. The result is a little more ice time for a veteran like Shelley, who said he needs to take advantage of the opportunity.
"Anytime you get on the ice you try to show your coach and your teammates that you're here to contribute in some way. Whether it's two shifts or 12 shifts or 20 shifts, we're all having the attitude that you've got to give everything you've got," said Shelley, who recorded a career-high 3-7-10 last year.
Shelley can now get his teammates off his back a little, too, as they had been razzing him about the dry spell.
"It's great to see him score," defenseman Rostislav Klesla said. "It was a big goal, huge goal for us. It helped us get a (standings) point. I'm happy for him. Hopefully, he can make some more in the net." Klesla and Shelley have played all of their NHL games for Columbus.
Now – as ESPN anchor Chris Berman would say – Shelley is "off the schneid."