James Hamblin scored his first NHL goal for the Oilers on Saturday afternoon in Tampa, but the special moment transcended the game of hockey.
There’s no getting around the reality that the Oilers losing 6-4 to the Lightning was extremely disappointing and frustrating. However, sometimes things happen, which put everything into perspective.
One such moment came on Saturday afternoon in Tampa, when James Hamblin scored during the first period. It did more than give the Oilers a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
The goal also doubled as Hamblin’s first goal and indeed the first point of his NHL career. He tapped his heart three times and pointed to the skies, said something and then celebrated with his teammates.
What the 24-year-old actually appeared to say was: “That’s for you mom.” He lost his mother to cancer back in September 2017, making you appreciate just how special a moment his first ever NHL goal was.
Inspired by the goal, Hamblin overall had arguably his best game yet in the NHL. By extension, the fourth line had one of their best collective performances so far this season.
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The Edmonton favourite discussed what the goal and the moment meant to him during the postgame. Speaking to the media, he said:
"“It was obviously a very exciting moment. I just pointed to the sky and my initial thoughts went straight to my mom. I’ve had that celebration in the bank for a few years now, so it was a weight off my shoulders to finally score the first one and like I said, my first thoughts were straight to her.”"
Hamblin continued with his thoughts on his mom and the moment. He said:
"“It’s super special. I know she’s in my heart, she’s on my back. It’s hard to not get emotional about it, but I’m just really fortunate that it went in.”"
It’s been a tough road for Hamblin, who contemplated retiring after going undrafted in 2020 but stayed the course. His hard work is finally paying off and if anyone deserves to succeed, it’s him.
The goal actually comes during the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer month. Hockey Fights Cancer was founded in 1998, as a joint initiative between the NHL and NHLPA.