By Jim Diamond
Early in the first period of Thursday night’s game, Predators rookie center Colton Sissons drove down the left side of the Buffalo zone with a good look at the net, lined up a wrist shot, and then promptly whiffed on 98% of the puck.
Soon that puck will be mounted and put on display as forever a keepsake for the 20-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C.
Confused? Don’t be.
The puck that trickled off the end of his stick found its way to Rich Clune in the faceoff circle, where he sent a solid backhand on Sabres goaltender Matt Hackett. Hackett made the save, but allowed the rebound to squirt out to the left side.
Undaunted by his earlier miss, Sissons kept driving toward the net and was rewarded for it when he jumped on the puck, and this time made no mistake, ripping a laser by Hackett for his first career NHL goal.
“Of course, I didn’t fan on it at all,” Sissons said of the first attempt, with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Everything happens for a reason. I think I’ve been working pretty hard and fortunately got a bounce there to get my first.”
Following the game, Predators head coach Barry Trotz sounded proud of Sissons and fellow rookie Calle Jarnkrok, who also scored his first NHL goal Thursday.
“Both those young centermen are part of the future and they have come in here and done a really good job,” Trotz said. “Colton Sissons getting his first, he’s a really detailed player. I think his game will translate at the pro level.”
Playing in his 14th NHL game, Sissons admitted to wondering when that first one was going to come.
“As soon as the puck left my stick, there was a little slow motion portion,” Sissons said. “It was just crazy in the celebration after. My mind was going everywhere.”
As Sissons came together with linemates Clune and Eric Nystrom behind the Buffalo goal, Nystrom yelled at Clune to go and retrieve that special puck.
“We’ve bonded,” Sissons said of Clune. “We’ve played quite a bit together and I can call him a good friend of mine now. He’s a great teammate and I’m really happy to be playing with him.”
And how does it feel to get that first one?
“I can’t really describe it,” he said. “I’m on top of the world right now. It feels amazing.”