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HEH's Schaller Scores 1st NHL Goal!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 4:35AM
(Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/NHL via Getty Images)

HEH Summer Pro Camper Schaller Scores First NHL Goal

By Shawn Hutcheon

As hockey fans filed into Boston’s TD Garden on the night of December 21, 2014 they spoke about their anticipation of that evening’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres.

Due to slow starts to their seasons, each team was struggling to find their games and identities.

The Sabres lineup was riddled with injuries and illness and had more than one player on its roster on recall from the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Usually, young players who are called up to the NHL, receive between four to eight minutes of playing time and do all they can to impress the coaching staff. After all, it is every player’s dream to play in the NHL and once he gets there he does not want to go back to the minors.

Such was the case for center Tim Schaller.

On this night, the 24-year-old native of Merrimack, New Hampshire found himself lining up across from Bruins veteran and Stanley Cup champion, Patrice Bergeron, in the face off circle in just his third NHL game.

Schaller played a strong game, keeping it simple within the Sabres defense first system preached by coach Ted Nolan and after two periods the clubs had skated to a 2-2 tie.

Schaller came out for the third period not knowing how the period would play out but it did not take long for the big (6-foot-2) Sabre forward to make an impact.

The puck was in Buffalo’s zone when linemate Brian Flynn took control of it on the half wall. He chipped the disc up to winger Nicolas Deslauriers, who carried it along the right wing boards into the Boston zone. Deslauriers sent the puck into the corner and out-raced Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to regain control of it. He, then, chipped the puck behind the Boston net, where Schaller had positioned himself in front of Seidenberg’s partner, Dougie Hamilton. Schaller skated into the pass and in one quick movement, beat Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask with a wraparound to put the Sabres ahead on the scoreboard 3-2 at the 1:27 mark of the period.

It was Schaller’s first National Hockey League goal and point.

The Bruins would score later in the period and win in overtime by a 4-3 score. However, after the contest, the topic in the Sabres dressing room was Schaller’s goal.  

Well, something I strive to do every shift is get the pucks to the net,” Schaller said when asked to describe the play that resulted in his lamplighter. “Deslauriers made a nice play around the net there and you know, I got the puck to the crease and under his feet and it slid in.”

The New Englander admitted he was so elated that he was not sure how to celebrate.

“No, I didn’t even know how to celebrate,” said Schaller. “I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug so I guess that’s all I needed.”

Of course, all good hockey families travel together from the time of that very first learn to skate session all the way to an NHL arena and the Schaller family made the trek down from New Hampshire to TD Garden.

“Yup, that was them,”  Schaller said as he held the puck that slid past Rask. “Mom, dad, brother…I’m not even an hour away from home so I probably have 20-30 people in the stands tonight. I’m excited to get the puck to them (his parents). That will be good for them.”

Schaller was not shy to reveal that scoring his first goal in Boston was one to remember.

“Yup, grew up coming to this building as a kid so this was pretty special,” he said.

Schaller also played in TD Garden as a member of the Providence College Friars.

“Twice and lost both times. Thanks for reminding me.” Schaller joked.

Before heading out to meet up with his parents and entourage, I asked Schaller what advice he would give to youngsters who dream of playing in the NHL.

“It starts in practice,” he answered. “If you don’t work hard in practice, you aren’t going to get anywhere. If you work hard in practice, good things will come in the games so it all begins in practice.”

If it is true that practice makes perfect, then the night Tim Schaller scored his first NHL goal in front of his parents in Boston could not have been more perfect.