IRVINE -- Standing in front of his locker stall at Great Park Ice on Wednesday afternoon, Ducks left wing Sonny Milano flashed a smile that ran from ear to ear. The 23-year-old Massapequa, New York native had himself quite the debut with his new team last night, scoring a pair of goals, including the game winner in overtime, to lift the Ducks to a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
In doing so, he became just the 10th player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in their first game with a franchise (career debut or otherwise) and just the second player in Ducks history to accomplish the feat. It was an unforgettable moment for Milano, who was acquired by the Ducks from Columbus for Devin Shore just before the NHL trade deadline on Monday.
"It was definitely a lot of fun," he said, on his Ducks debut. "Good opportunity to be out there in overtime and capitalizing. It was nice. Adam Henrique made a great play there. It was a great feeling."
Last night, Milano mentioned a switch he and Henrique made in the moments leading up to his game-winning goal. At first, Milano was stationed on the goal line with Henrique in the low slot, but the veteran forward called out the switch, and the newcomer did as he was told. "He likes that spot down there," Milano said of Henrique. "He wanted to switch, so I listened."
Video: EDM@ANA: Milano taps home PPG for OT winner
Milano came to the Ducks after a tumultuous career in Columbus. The former first-round pick (16th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft showed glimpses at times, but also found himself on the outside looking in. He was a healthy scratch in the two games leading up to his trade to Anaheim. Nevertheless, Milano expressed gratitude for his former club.
"I was happy I was there," he said. "I learned a lot from Torts [Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella]. I learned a lot defensively, but I also needed a breath of fresh air."
As expected, his phone lit up with text messages after his thrilling overtime winner. "Just a lot of friends and family," he said with a smile. "A lot of my old teammates in Columbus reached out. My family is rooting for me, so it was really nice."
Some might not know this, but Milano is a big music fan. Though he says he's "all over the place" when it comes to music, he enjoys the alternative genre. He reeled off a few of his favorites, three of which have ties to his home state of New York. "The Strokes. Talking Heads," he said. After a few seconds, a few more names came out. "A Tribe Called Quest and Sublime. I'm into all types."
What about food? "Everything," he said, letting out a belting laugh.
Though he's in his early 20s, Milano doesn't immerse himself in video games or binge watch television shows. Instead, he takes it to the outdoors. "I'm always busy," he said "I don't really like to sit around. No video games or anything. No movies or TV, really. I'm always active. I'm always either biking or going to the beach, especially back home in New York, but I love it here."
His transition to the Ducks has been eased with a few familiar faces, including Columbus native Kiefer Sherwood. Milano is good friends with Kiefer's younger brother, Kole (a prospect in the Blue Jackets organization), and the three of them often spent time together in the summers. "Even off the ice in the summer when I was in Columbus early, I got to know Kiefer a bit. They're actually pretty similar guys, so it's pretty weird," Milano says with a chuckle.
Having four other new faces in the lineup last night also helped. "It's nice being with four other guys that are new to the team," Milano said, referencing Andrew Agozzino, Danton Heinen, Christian Djoos and Matt Irwin. "We can do it together. Everyone is welcoming, so it's been pretty easy."