Winning hockey games is fun. Knocking off some career milestones along the way is just the icing on the cake.
The Saskatoon Blades are off to a solid start, going 4-1-1 in their first six games and while the team’s stars have played a big role in that success, a number of rookies are chipping in as well, leading to some memorable moments.
The Blades have had a player score his first Western Hockey League goal in four straight games.
Defenceman Tanner Molendyk started the streak in a 6-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Oct. 9. Forward Tyler Parr added his first goal in a rematch with the Wheat Kings on Oct. 13.
Import forwards Egor Sidorov and Moritz Elias followed suit in games against Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw, respectively.
“It was crazy. I grew up watching the league and growing up and seeing all the good players in the league, and to finally be here and score and have that feeling was just so amazing. It’s gonna be a good memory for a long time,” Parr said of his milestone marker.
It’s not just goals though. Blades backup netminder Ethan Chadwick notched his first WHL victory in his very first start, backstopping his team to a 4-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The former Saskatoon Contact says it was a thrill to get the call from head coach Brennan Sonne telling him he was going to start the game.
“Obviously I was excited, told my friends, told my family and they were all happy for me. I was a little nervous as well going in for my first game but obviously the result went well so (I’m) looking forward to starting many more,” the goaltender said.
Whether it’s a win or a goal, the first one is always special. It also serves to reassure players that yes, they belong in the WHL.
“Makes me think in my mind that I’m actually able to play in this league so it gives me a little more confidence but at the same time the work’s not completely done yet so I gotta keep pushing myself in practice and working hard,” Chadwick said.
Coming into the season, Parr says he tried not to focus too much on finding the scoresheet.
“I was obviously trying to score, I was trying to play well, but I never really thought, ‘Oh, I gotta get my first one, you know I gotta get it out of the way,’ but after I did score it was nice to have that relief,” he said.
The Blades head coach has enjoyed watching his young players take turns celebrating career milestones.
“It’s why I got into coaching. It’s what I enjoy. I enjoy watching people succeed. I like being a part of it and helping any way I can. I love watching people grow and develop and move up in the world. It’s the joy of coaching. That is the best part of it,” Brennan Sonne said.
For the players, sharing their milestone moments with teammates in similar positions just adds to the fun.
“It’s not like one of us, it’s our first time and stuff like that, like we’re all going through it together so it’s been cool to feed off each other,” Parr said.
Chadwick says getting those important ‘first’ out of the way has helped ease some of the rookie jitters.
“The locker room’s a little bit more positive now and all the guys are supporting one another a little bit more so it’s really good to celebrate those firsts with all the guys,” he said.
And the memories they create will last a lifetime, no matter where the game takes them.