This has been quite a weekend for Penguins left winger Eric Tangradi
On Friday night, Tangradi scored his first-ever National Hockey League goal when he staked the Penguins to a 2-0 second-period lead in an eventual 3-2 overtime defeat of the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.
As if that thrill wasn’t enough for the 21-year-old rookie, on Saturday night the Philadelphia native returns to his hometown for the first time as an NHL player when the Penguins travel to Philadelphia for a 6 p.m. faceoff against the cross-state rival Flyers.
“It’s going to make for a special weekend if we are able to pick up two points (on Saturday),” Tangradi said. “I have a loud, rowdy crew coming in with Philly being my hometown. It’s definitely going to be a very emotional game for me. I hope to bring my ‘A’ game.”
Luckily for Tangradi, he didn’t have to worry about coming up with all the tickets for his crew, because the final total is expected to be well over 100. Tangradi said his father took care of all those details so the younger Tangradi could focus on what he has to do on the ice.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Tangradi said. “I think the word has spread in the Philadelphia area and probably everyone I have played hockey with my entire career is making an effort to get there. I really appreciate all of the support.
“My dad is a very proud dad, so he was able to organize the whole thing. The Flyers have been very cooperative with my parents. They have been able to get a box and have everything set up for them.”
Tangradi said it will be exciting to play in front of so many of his closest acquaintances, even if he knows they might not be rooting for his team.
“I think in a perfect world they are going to hope that the Flyers win and I play a really good game,” Tangradi said. RELATED ARTICLE: Penguins vs. Flyers Game Preview
Among those expected to make up Tangradi’s entourage is Ed Hospodar, a former Flyers defenseman who coached Tangradi when he was growing up.
“He is the one who really directed me to go north into Canada (to play junior hockey),” Tangradi said. “That decision turned my career around and got me where I am today.”
Thanks to his tally on Friday night, Tangradi returns to his hometown the proud owner of his first-ever NHL goal.
Tangradi picked up his historic tally at 6:57 of the second period when he took the puck from Mark Letestu behind the net, skated the biscuit out to the bottom of the far circle and sent a shot towards the net which glanced off the skate of an Islanders defenseman and hopped into the net behind Rick DiPietro.
“I have always said that I won’t score any pretty goals during my career,” Tangradi said. “I think my first was really an indication of that. I’m just playing my style and my game. I was just throwing the puck to the net and it bounced in. It’s a relief. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it counts.”
Now that Tangradi has his first NHL marker out of the way, what would be the ideal homecoming for him on Saturday night?
“I think to play well and have the team grab two points,” Tangradi said. “If I am able to put one into the back of the net, that would be special as well.”