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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final blog: Harry Zolnierczyk

Predators forward excited for Game 1 against Penguins

by Harry Zolnierczyk / Special to NHL.com

Nashville Predators left wing Harry Zolnierczyk will keeping his own blog throughout the course of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zolnierczyk will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.

Zolnierczyk, 29, is in his first season with the Predators. He split the season between the Nashville and Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. In 24 regular-season games, he had two goals and two assists. He has played in eight postseason games this year, scoring a goal and adding an assist. He broke into the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12 and has also played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks.

Here is Zolnierczyk's first entry, on the eve of Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is Monday at PPG Paints Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports). He spoke after taking part in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final Media Day on Sunday:

 

To end up here -- the media the day before the Cup Final -- is obviously a dream come true. There are a ton of emotions that you are dealing with, including the excitement of the moment. But it also provides an opportunity for retrospection.

 

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Six years ago I started with the Philadelphia Flyers, had a pretty good rookie year, and made a splash there. But then I bounced around to a few organizations and didn't see much NHL time at all, which made me think that maybe hockey was coming to an end for me.

I ended up getting another opportunity with Nashville. You start in the minors, still unsure which way it'll go. And if you're lucky enough, you get that call-up and you never go back. After that, you appreciate and love every day you get in the NHL even more. To me, I think it is one of the best places in the world.

I grew up in Toronto and was a Maple Leafs fan when I was younger. As a hockey fan, you follow the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year, and now for me to land here and be a part of it is something special. Kids all over the world -- just like I was in Toronto -- dream about this. This is an opportunity to play for the Cup. It is pretty special; I don't really have words for it.

You start out playing ball hockey in your driveway, and you are always pretending that you score the goal that wins the Stanley Cup. We've all done that; I've definitely done that. Now, to take that out of imagination and into the realm of possibility, when there were so many times when I thought hockey wasn't going to work out and uncertainty loomed, makes the experience even sweeter.

I'm just glad I stuck with it and kept the dream alive because now it has come true.

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Zolnierczyk goes bar-down on breakaway

The last few days since we beat the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 have been unbelievable. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has been involved. It's a fun thing, whether it is friends or family or passersby. But I've been that friend; I've been that fan; you just want to associate yourself with that dream. It's an amazing thing to be a part of.

Today, for me, is part of this amazing ride that I am on right now. It's just another step. It's happened so quickly: from not being in the NHL to starting in the minors again to being a part of an NHL team to becoming an everyday guy to making the playoffs to playing for the Cup. Unreal. I think it is something that I won't be able to truly appreciate and really take all in until it is all said and done. Right now, you are just flying as it goes by.

Once it is done and we finish where we want to be, I think that will be the time that I can look back and appreciate the entire experience that comes with this ride. Right now, each day there is something going on, and it just keeps us moving, and we'll be excited to get to Game 1 on Monday and just keep rolling. 

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