Exactly one week after his 20th birthday, New York Islanders rookie defenseman Noah Dobson unwrapped one of the only gifts worth waiting for; his first NHL goal.
After winning an offensive zone draw early in the second period, Ryan Pulock corralled the loose puck and circulated it out to Dobson who was positioned along the right boards. Dobson wired a shot seemingly sailing wide when fate intervened, as it took a fortunate redirection off of the glove of Detroit's Alex Biega and snuck in past goaltender Calvin Pickard to make it 6-1 in the Isles 8-2 win.
While his first-career goal didn't shape out the highlight-reel way Dobson had envisioned, the moment was priceless and Dobson's face said it all.
Video: DET@NYI: Dobson scores first career NHL goal
Initially, struck by confusion, the shock set in as the rookie was swarmed by his teammates who smothered him with hugs and pats on the head. His expression changed as he beamed with pride and he appeared to be on the brink of tears of joy.
"Maybe it looked that way because I was sweating," Dobson explained. "It was a little shocking that it went in. I thought it hit something or someone, but I'll take it. it's a cool moment. It's a moment you dream about as a kid. It's definitely nice and something you'll look back on one day. That's something you're always going to remember."
His teammates naturally chirped the rookie. Pulock teased Dobson a little bit on the bench, saying "what a laser!" in response to the goal's velocity, but the veterans were ultimately ecstatic to see him get rewarded.
"It's exciting," Pulock said. "You want to get that first one. Sometimes that first one is the hardest one to get. When you're a young kid playing in the NHL, you dream of scoring a goal...He's getting some confidence here. He knows his game is improving every game. It's good to see him get rewarded."
"It was great to see," Josh Bailey added. "He deserves it for sure. He's been a great presence in our locker room all season long. He's put in a lot of work. It's not an easy thing to do when you're a guy like him and used to playing a lot. He's had to work really hard in practice. He's a great guy and a great teammate."
The Isles 2018 first-round pick (12th overall) has now played in seven-straight games, the most consecutive he's played, and now has four career points through 18 games. With the vacancy of defenseman Adam Pelech, sidelined for the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury, Dobson has relished in the opportunity for increased ice time and responsibility.
"It's definitely a big change from playing here and there to being a regular now, but it's definitely been good," Dobson said. "I just want to continue to grow as a player. I feel more comfortable every game and just want to continue to try and build on that.
The goal may not have been the prettiest, nor did it reflect the style of poise and composure Dobson embodies in his nimble game, but it will stand out as memory for life.
"I was hoping that sooner or later one of these would find the way," Dobson said. "It probably wasn't the best shot I've ever had, but I'll take it. It's a good feeling."