Believe me, it could have gone better. Shinkaruk could have danced a little more, made another move, and maybe gotten a little more speed on the puck. It could have been more convincing, you know? And, it could have been against Antti Niemi.
But, as long as we’re enjoying the moment, let’s just say this: Vancouver Canucks rookie Hunter Shinkaruk had one hell of an introduction to the NHL last night, and his roof-job snipe against the more-than-capable San Jose netminder Alex Stalock was pretty darn sexy.
Officially, Shinkaruk has never scored an NHL goal. He doesn’t have a point. He doesn’t even have a minute of ice time. Last night was a preseason opener, but you couldn’t have told him that – and that’s a good thing.
“It was definitely pretty exciting,” said Shinkaruk, who launched himself into the glass in celebration – much like he does in Medicine Hat, and much like he did to celebrate fellow prospect Brendan Gaunce’s first period notch on Monday, as well.
“It was a game I’ll never forget, and it was a lot of fun.”
“It was awesome,” said Bo Horvat, on Shinkaruk’s and Gaunce’s goals, after the game. “They’re great hockey players, and they deserve those goals. Hunter made on that goal – I don’t know how it went in – it had eyes for sure, and Brendan did a great job driving to the net and scoring his goal.”
For Shinkaruk, the goal wasn’t just a bonus but probably necessary. He’s considered a longshot to make this team’s 2013, real-time roster, because he was not the first player the Canucks took in this year’s draft (that would be Horvat) and he hasn’t waited through the queue like Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen, or even Jordan Schroeder.
That’s the danger of the NHL. Public opinion often becomes real opinion and, when that happens, real, true, once-in-a-draft talents like Shinkaruk get passed over.
We can’t say what John Tortorella will decide, but his assistant coach and longtime running mate – Mike Sullivan – had nothing but praise for Shinkaruk:
“That’s a goal scorer’s goal… Off the angle like that – top shelf, short side. He’s an easy guy to like. Plays with a ton of moxie. He loves hockey. He’s been a lot of fun to spend the first few days with here.”
Who knows why Sullivan is trying to sound like Renee Zellweger’s character from the Oscar-winning musical theme park ride Chicago (moxie?), but it’s safe to say Shinkaruk really couldn’t have turned in a more impressive debut.
Also noticeable were the kid’s parents, who made the trip out to Van City from Cow Town and got to proudly watch their kid pop his first one.
How cayoooooooooote are these photos? I’m pretty sure Mr. Shinkaruk shed a tear or two, and who could blame him? (I think I did.)
This is actually like watching the final scene from Field of Dreams in real life…