22-year-old defenceman Jordan Oesterle made his NHL debut tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The significance of the moment hit him when he lined up for a faceoff early in the game.
“It was on a faceoff,” Oesterle said. “I looked over and there was Corey Perry just standing next to me and I was just like, ‘wow.’”
Oesterle played 16:34 for the game, paired with Andrew Ference.
“I was really nervous at the beginning but I took a short shift at the beginning and got the nerves out of there. But Ference really helped me by communicating a lot to me and made my game pretty easy,” Oesterle said.
Oesterle may have been nervous, but he made an impression on Interim Coach Todd Nelson, who also coached the blueliner in Oklahoma City.
“He was excellent,” Nelson said. “I thought for a guy coming in for his first hockey game in the National Hockey League he was really good. He moved his feet, he made some really good decisions with the puck, he handled himself fine in the corners. I think for a first game for a young defenceman, that was a nice game for him.”
He’s been touted for his high-end skating abilities and puck-moving prowess, but even Ference was surprised at how much the rookie wanted the puck.
“Really, really good,” Ference said of his defensive partner’s debut. “He had great composure, fantastic skating ability, he was so calm. I still remember my first game when I didn’t want to touch the puck and he’s handling it and skating up the ice real well, making great plays. Very impressive.”