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PRINCIPE: A Brave Brandon

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Brandon Davidson (88) celebrates his first NHL goal.  (photo by Getty Images)

It has been quite a run by the Edmonton Oilers. They have dispatched Colorado twice and Dallas once to inch closer to a season-tying four-game winning streak they set Oct.20-Oct.27. It has been a long time coming and you could also say that about players scoring their first NHL goals.

It wasn't a long career wait, but still a wait before Martin Marincin against Colorado, Andrew Miller versus Dallas and Brandon Davidson again with Colorado as the victim scored goal one of their careers in three consecutive games. Marincin waited the longest (76 games), Miller scored the most exciting (on a penalty shot) but the most meaningful one was Davidson's. No disrespect meant to the other two but they weren't forced to fight off cancer to accomplish their life-long dream.

It truly was a sight to see Brandon Davidson score the opening goal of the game Monday night against Colorado. He was playing in career game number six. Six was also the round he was drafted in back in 2010. You know how it works with a lot of players chosen 152nd overall never getting the chance to play or score in the NHL. Davidson has had both.

After a four game stint that started December 10, against Anaheim, the defenceman was back in the minors. In fact, he wasn't even supposed to be back in the NHL this season. The Oilers had already used their four remaining call ups, but as fate would have it injuries to Andrew Ference and Mark Fayne meant the Oilers needed an emergency recall on the backend. Brandon Davidson was the choice.

The hockey Gods looking over him as they have tried to do ever since he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. An opponent no one ever wants to face. Knowing that a loss in this game of life means you don't get another chance. There isn't a 'we'll get him next time' because there is no next time. A challenge like no other that the 23-year-old had to face a few years ago. He met it head on with courage, conviction, bravery and the willingness to take on something much scarier than anything you'll meet in a corner of a hockey rink or in front of a net. A fight against one of the toughest and most debilitating diseases you or anyone you know will ever encounter. Yet Brandon Davidson never stopped fighting and scored the biggest win of his life when he was declared cancer free.

His hockey payoff came when he played his first game. It proved the Oilers faith in drafting him was well founded. He took it one step further by notching his first National Hockey League goal. I can only imagine the pride his parents, siblings, family and friends felt when they saw the puck go past Semyon Varlamov and an ear to ear smile on the face of their son, brother, cousin and friend. He had achieved his goal and at the same time set goals for so many other people who have been diagnosed with this ugly disease. Whether it's a return to work or being able to pick up your kids from school or making it to your high school graduation the former captain of the Regina Pats proved that you can achieve if you believe.

He is an inspiration, who is a cancer survivor, but wants to be known as an NHL player. I don't blame him for wanting to move past what has happened and look towards a bright future. However, he is a role model for many fighting for their life or their careers. What he has already accomplished in his 23 years should be worn as a badge of honour because he has earned it. To all those that have battled cancer or know someone who has I wish you the same outcome and success Brandon Davidson has proven is possible.
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