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One time only - NHL Game

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

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.

After hours of practice, years of perseverance, and countless games, they've made it to the NHL and their first game is something that will remain with them forever. Players talk about their experience.


Left wing, 391 NHL games

TEAM: Atlanta Thrashers
FIRST GAME: January 12, 2001 vs. Montreal Canadiens
AGE: 20
SCORE: 3-0 L

Darcy Hordichuk has earned the reputation as a tough guy in the NHL and it's something he's had his whole career but in his first NHL game as a 20-year old, he wasn't shy to show people what he could do.

"All I remember is the guys telling me to relax out there on the ice. My first shift of the game, I got Oleg Petrov with his head down behind the net and the hit made the Gatorade commercials with that. I got in the Gatorade commercial with that hit. It was a good first shift for me and it was an exciting moment in my career."

Hordichuk went on to play 11 games that season with the Thrashers and split the rest of the season in Orlando with the Solar Bears in the last year of the IHL.

In 11 NHL games with Atlanta in 2000-2001, he had 38 penalty minutes, which included six majors.

Biggest wow moment: Just getting to play against some of the people you grew up idolizing and just being part of it and playing in the NHL, the best league in the world. I think Jeff Odgers, he was really good with me and kind of took me under his wing. He’s a great guy and he’s another one from my hometown. I owe a lot to him.

Looking back on it now, I can’t believe... That I’ve been in the NHL 10 years


Goaltender, 561 NHL games

TEAM: New York Islanders
FIRST GAME: November 28, 1999 at Boston Bruins
AGE: 20
SCORE: 2-1 W

Getting your first start in the National Hockey League as a goalie isn't easy to come by but the 20-year old Roberto Luongo didn't even know it was coming.

"It was an afternoon game and I didn’t even know I was starting until about three hours before the game. I was kind of just thrown in there but it was a great feeling and it was awesome."

There wasn't even a morning skate to ease him into game day. Coach Roberto Goring opted to give the news to Luongo following the team lunch and choosing to sit, then starter, Felix Potvin.

Starting the year in the AHL with the Lowell Lock Monsters, Luongo got his call a couple days earlier before making his debut in Boston and earning his first win.

In his rookie year with the Isles, Luongo continued to play in 24 games and finished with a 4-14-1 record.

The startling news, the unexpected situation, and the excitement of starting in his first game is enough to get the blood flowing but to top off the day with a win made it that much better.

"There were a few really memorable moments but just the feeling after the game, winning in my first game and the emotions that you go through because finally your dream has come true."

Biggest wow moment: I think the national anthem, standing there and you look at the building that’s sold out and you realize it’s your first NHL game. It was pretty overwhelming.

Looking back on it now, I can’t believe... It was 10 years ago already. I still can’t believe and it was a long time ago.


Right wing, 64 NHL games

TEAM: Vancouver Canucks
FIRST GAME: April 13,2007 vs. Dallas Stars
AGE: 21
SCORE: 2-0 L

For Jannik Hansen, his first game in the NHL wasn't just any other game. It was the game after the Canucks, now infamous, four-overtime game one of the 2007 playoffs against the Dallas Stars.

Hansen didn't have time to adjust to the pace and level of the NHL, he had to get right in there and play at the highest level during the most important time of the year.

He didn't have a whole lot of time to process the situation and when he got out there, it was just another game on the ice.

"Probably my first shift was the most memorable for me. After that, it was kind of like, ‘okay, now it’s a game’. But in that first shift, you start to really realize that you’re actually playing and try to take it all in but after that, it’s back to business."

The Canucks lost Matt Cooke and Alex Burrows in game one and found out that Ryan Kesler would be out the next game but Hansen wasn't expecting to be suiting up for game two.

"We were a couple of games away from [the Manitoba Moose] playoffs too so I was getting ready for that and I was walking through the mall in Winnipeg. [Scott] Arniel called me. We saw the first game and a couple guys went down in that game, somebody had to get called up and I didn’t expect it to be me. I got the call and got on a plane."

Hansen played 10 games and had an assist during the playoffs with the Canucks that year.

Biggest wow moment: The warmup on the ice before the anthem.

Looking back on it now, I can’t believe... It was 3 years back.


Defenceman, 364 NHL games

TEAM: Vancouver Canucks
FIRST GAME: October 9, 2003 at Edmonton
AGE: 21
SCORE: 5-2 L

After four years of playing hockey in Germany, Christian Ehrhoff took his first onto the North American ice in 2003 with the San Jose Sharks.

Making the team straight out of the training camp, the rookie debuted in the Sharks first game of the season in Edmonton as one of just five German players in the League that year.

"It was just a great feeling to be there and to have gotten to that point after dreaming of that for such a long time."

Ehrhoff turned heads as the second youngest player to play for the German team in the 2002 Olympics (Marcel Goc was the youngest) and was ready to show what he could do on the smaller NHL ice.

He played in 41 games in 2003-04 registering a goal and 11 assists in his rookie campaign.

He finished that year with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL.

Biggest wow moment: Maybe walking into the dressing room with all the jerseys hanging up and seeing your name on the back on an NHL jersey.

Looking back on it now, I can’t believe... We lost that game.

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