Alex Nedeljkovic, goaltender. And goal scorer.
The Carolina Hurricanes' goaltending prospect scored an empty-net goal in the Charlotte Checkers' 7-3 win over Hartford on Saturday night. Nedejlkovic fielded the puck to the left of his net on the goal line, dropped to a knee and fired a shot down the ice into the gaping cage to become the 13th netminder in American Hockey League history to score a goal.
"Just hit the net this time," Nedeljkovic told CharlotteCheckers.com after the game. "There have been countless times this year where I've whiffed on it or put it wide, so this time I wanted to bury it."
"I know he looks for it, and especially up two goals it's easier for him to do it. I'm proud of him," Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci told CharlotteCheckers.com. "A lot of guys don't work on that, but he's worked at it extremely hard ever since he was 16 years old in Plymouth. When you work on something, it's good to get rewarded and I'm happy for him."
Seeing the puck head down the ice right on line to find the empty net, which had just been vacated by Wolf Pack goaltender Jeff Jakaitis, Nedeljkovic tossed his hands in the air in celebration and sprinted to the Checkers' bench, where he was mobbed by his teammates.
"I was ecstatic," Nedeljkovic said. "When I saw it was going in I jumped and I was throwing my hands in the air. I was like a little kid again."
His feat didn't go unnoticed by the big club.
"I saw Ned's [goal] last night. That was pretty awesome," goaltender Scott Darling said after a Sunday practice at Raleigh Center Ice. "I've never had the chance to [score]. I've never taken a run at it."
Given the opportunity, could Darling replicate Nedeljkovic's shot?
"I have the strength and shot ability, but still under pressure you have to hit the target," he said. "I mean, you see a lot of players miss the net when you shoot from the other zone."
This isn't even the first time that Nedeljkovic has tallied a goal in his professional career. The now 22-year-old became the 12th netminder in ECHL history to score a goal when he did so with the Florida Everblades in a 5-3 win against the Atlanta Gladiators on Dec. 30, 2016.
A goal in the NHL would complete Nedeljkovic's hat trick.
"He'll probably be the first guy to ever do that," Darling said. "That's cool."