MONTREAL - Five years have passed since Ben Chiarot scored the first goal of his NHL career.
It happened on January 3, 2015 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg when Chiarot was playing just his 15th game with the Jets.
The blast really was a thing of beauty. Going bar down through traffic from the point on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, the young defenseman certainly announced his arrival on the NHL scene in style.
"It seems like a lifetime ago now, but it was a dream come true," said Chiarot, who was 23 years old at the time. "It was Hockey Night in Canada and I scored against the team I rooted for growing up. I've seen the clip a bunch of times. I still remember who I was on the ice with - Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. I just let it fly, post and in. It was pretty cool."
Chiarot's marker with 9:05 remaining in the third period capped the scoring in a 5-1 win over Toronto. He also collected an assist and finished the night with a plus-4 differential.
According to the Hamilton, ON native, that performance cemented his place in the Jets' lineup for good.
"The next morning, I got the call to get a place. I was told that I was going to be staying with the team the rest of the year. It was a really exciting time in my life," recalled Chiarot. "My wife and I were staying in a hotel there. She was my girlfriend at the time, so that's kind of when things took off for me. It was around my first month in the NHL, and I've been in the League ever since. That was kind of my "you made it" moment."
As for the shot itself, it's no secret that Chiarot can bring some heat. Truth be told, the seven-year veteran has a howitzer in his arsenal and head coach Claude Julien apparently wants to see more of it.
"I worked on my slapshot so much as a kid, and just my shot in general. As time has gone on, I've gotten away from the slapshot just because it's harder to get through," explained Chiarot. "But Claude's been on me to use the shot a bit more and use the slapshot, so that's something I'm going to look to put back in there."
So could the former fourth-round selection have imagined a better way to light the lamp the first time?
"No, not really. Maybe if it was in overtime or something like that. That would've been pretty sweet," joked Chiarot. "But to do it the way I did it, I'm pretty happy with how it went. Everything at that point was just so new and exciting. It was a big thrill."