By the time Mike Angelidis arrived in Tampa Bay from Norfolk of the AHL, a slew of injuries to several Lightning regulars created a prime opportunity for the 26-year-old call-up to step in and shine in his NHL debut.
On Tuesday, the Bolts prospect did just that.
Angelidis recorded his first career NHL goal late in the opening period after stealing the puck from an opposing player, skating into the zone, and backhanding a shot that deflected off the shoulder of Columbus Blue Jackets net minder Curtis Sanford and into the net.
In the process, Angelidis became just the fifth Lightning player in franchise history to score a goal in his first career NHL game, joining Ryan Craig, Paul Mara, Jimmie Olvestad and Alex Selivanov.
“It felt unbelievable,” Angelidis said. “During the celebration, I thought I was going to faint. It was a dream come true.”
And it was a long time coming for the Woodbridge, Ontario native.
Prior to cracking the NHL ranks, Angelidis appeared in 353 career AHL games with Norfolk and the Albany River Rats. He also skated in 22 career Calder Cup Playoff Games, notching two goals and eight points.
“It was exciting to finally get up here,” Angelidis added. “It helped that there were other guys from Norfolk here which made it a bit easier. I’m glad I could come up at a time when the team was winning and I’m happy I got to be a part of it.”
“Apparently nobody had ever seen so many guys happy for somebody,” head coach Guy Boucher added. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy and he’s one of those guys everybody respects because he comes to war every game.”
While Angelidis hopes to enjoy many more repeat performances such as Tuesday night, he’ll never forget the one that started it all.