The Ottawa Senators had a pair of first happen for prospects on a single goal last Wednesday night in Toronto. When Ryan Dzingel scored a third period goal to tie the Maple Leafs at three, it marked his first goal as a Senator — in his first game no less — and also earned Darren Kramer his first ever assist in his second pre-season game.
"I think I went crazy on the celly there," said Dzingel. "It was a cool feeling. Obviously it's a big rivalry and the place was packed. It was a cool feeling and a good experience."
The goal is no small feat considering the first game jitters and competition he faced each shift.
"Walking on the ice I didn't really see the stadium yet so walking out of the tunnel it felt really big and really cool. Just trying to get my feet wet in the first period, I started to get more confidence in the second and third," said Dzingel. "I was playing against Kessel, Kadri and van Riemsdyk, got a lucky turnover and I was fortunate enough to put it away. My linemates had a hard shift and they deserved it too. I'm glad we got one."
One of those linemates was Darren Kramer who suited up for his second NHL pre-season game after making his debut during the 2013 pre-season.
"It was nice — I think they actually missed it at first so I didn't get my name over the PA, they said it was unassisted at first but then they checked it and I got the assist," said Kramer. "It was just a good feeling to get out there and play and play with Dzingel. It was a pretty surreal experience playing in that rink."
The assist is just an extension of an offensive outburst Kramer has had dating back to his appearance in the Rookie Tournament. He led the Senators in scoring at the London, Ont., tournament with three goals and an assist in three games.
"This was the year I wanted to make that step and show I could play the game as well. They know I'm willing to play the physical role," said Kramer. "I want to get back to what I did in my last year of junior when I scored over 20 goals and play more of an offensive role. The game is changing, if you want to play the game you have to play in all three zones and be trusted by your coach."
He also wrapped up the tournament wearing the 'C' for the Senators and recorded a Gordie Howe hat-trick in the process.
"That was pretty cool. I know it's just the Rookie Tournament but it's nice to be acknowledged as a leader and to wear a Senators jersey with that is pretty surreal. To go out and have the game I did with the C on the jersey is neat. I was an assist shy of the Gordie the night before so to get it felt good."
As for Dzingel, he is still in the midst of his transition to the pro brand of hockey after wrapping up his time at Ohio State. With his skating ability being one of his strongest attributes, he hasn't had trouble adjusting to the pace of the pro game. The transition has been primarily a mental one — gaining confidence with the puck on his stick and setting his internal alarm to know when he needs to get rid of it.
"I've only played one game but the difference is in the AHL guys seem to be pressuring you more in the corners. I felt like I had more time than I thought yesterday," said Dzingel. "You just have to be confident over the puck and I think I've taken strides in my strength. Just be strong over the puck and know you've got more time than you think."