Imagine being woken up at 9:30 AM at your house in Rochester and told today is the day your dream comes true. You have been called up to the NHL, to the Florida Panthers to be exact. Only one catch. Your flight is in two hours and oh by the way, your first NHL game starts at 7:30 tonight. Don't be late.
This is exactly what happened to the Panthers Tanner Glass. Glass graduated from Dartmouth University this past spring and signed his first professional contract with the Panthers this summer. After participating in Rookie Camp and Florida's Training Camp, Glass was assigned to the Panthers American Hockey League Affiliate, Rochester Americanes. On Nov. 12, at 9:30 AM, he got the call he had been waiting his whole life to hear.
"Getting called up was such a whirlwind day. I was late for the game," Glass recalls. "Everyone was congradulating me when I got there around 6:45. I didnt bring much stuff at all. I didn't even bring my computer. I didnt even bring shorts."
The dream to play in the NHL began on a small farm in Regina, Saskatchewan where Glass grew up. His dad, who played some professional hockey as well, would put him in skates starting at the age of three and taught Glass the game of hockey.
"I grew up on a farm and we had to cut a hole in the ice for our cows to drink out of during the winter," Glass said. "My dad would put my skates on and let me skate around while he cut a hole in the ice. My dad played hockey and he taught me most of what I know today."
Glass said he wasn't good enough at a young age to play in some of the major/junior hockey leagues in Canada so he decided to attend Dartmouth to play college hockey. In four years with Dartmouth, Glass amassed 82 points (31-51-82) in 124 games. In his senior season, Glass known for his toughness recorded 92 penalty minutes. Developing in college and learning how to be tough are the reasons he quickly made his way to the NHL.
"I loved college. I made friends for life and the hockey there is great," Glass said. "The ECAC is a tough league. It was great for my development. College gave me the chance to further develope."
When Panthers winger Richard Zednik came down with the flu last week, the Cats needed to find a forward quickly to fill in for a game or two. When Panthers General Manager and Head Coach Jacques Martin called Rochester Americans coach Randy Cunneyworth to call up a player, Cunneyworth suggested Glass. He loved his grit and determination along with his hard work and ability to finish checks. For these reasons, Martin gave Glass the opportunity to make his NHL debut on Nov. 12 against Carolina.
"He is a hard worker and that is why he is up here," said Panthers forward David Booth, who was in the same situation as Glass last year, one year removed from graduating from Michigan State University.
After the first two games with Florida, Glass didn't see much ice time. Only a couple of shifts against Carolina and again the next night against Atlanta. However in game three on Nov. 15 against Washington, Glass knew he had to make an impression and that he did right off a faceoff, dropping the gloves against Matt Bradley
of the Caps.
"I didnt get a lot of ice the first couple of games so I decided to get something going," Glass said. "I was trying to give the guys a little spark. It's something I can bring to help the team. I didnt know Bradley but the scouting report said he would fight so I asked if he would go and he said sure, so we dropped the gloves off of the faceoff."
That fight must have impressed Martin because Saturday night in Carolina, Glass was given over six minutes of ice time, proving that his hard work was paying off.
"He is very responsible," Martin said. "I like his intensity and his determination. He does a good job out there."
Whether Glass stays with the Panthers for one more game or the rest of the season, the impressions he has made on both his coaches and teammates has surely earned him a spot in the Panthers organization. From cutting holes in the ice to feed his cows, it has been a magical journey for Tanner Glass and his professional career has just begun.