Ever so slowly, the NHL is inching towards having 500 different goal scorers in 2015-16. Some are on pace to set career highs while others are simply not hitting the marks that are expected of them. However you look at it though, 500 individual goal scorers is certainly an impressive mark from a league standpoint.
That being said 44 of those players have notched career firsts this season in the goal column. Some were highlight reel goals while others are better seen in the boxscore the next morning. Regardless, they’re milestones that these players will never forget.
With numbers 43 to 31 behind us in part one of this mini-series (the 44th player having scored his first after this series was started), here’s a look at the second group of first-time goal scorers.
30. Connor Brickley (Oct. 13 at Carolina)
Drafted 50th overall by Florida in 2010, Connor Brickley’s been biding his time waiting for an opportunity in the NHL. Finally in 2015, he’s been handed the jersey and laced up the skates for the Panthers in what is his young NHL career.
It was early in the year, in Raleigh, when Brickley went hard towards Eddie Lack’s net. Fighting off the defender, he was able to get his stick on a rebound and get one in behind the Hurricane goalie. The goal came with just under eight minutes left in the third and proved to be the game winner – an added bonus to the first of Brickley’s young career.
[VIDEO: Connor Brickley Goal on Eddie Lack]
29. Joonas Kemppainen (Oct. 23 at NY Islanders)
In the midst of a rebuild (of sorts), it was expected that the Boston Bruins would give some of their young players an opportunity to play this season. But at 27, Joonas Kemppainen also took hold of the opportunity and ran with it.
On October 23, Kemppainen took a rebound and fired it home under Jaroslav Halak in Brooklyn tying the game 2-2 with just under four minutes left in the second period. But what might’ve been more impressive than the milestone goal was the play that led to the goal – a turnover by Calvin de Haan forced along the boards by Kemppainen himself.
28. Josh Manson (Nov. 6 vs. Columbus)
In 2014-15, Josh Manson played 28 games for the Anaheim Ducks recording three assists. It wasn’t until the second month of this season for the 24-year-old to score his first goal in the NHL.
Manson crept into the slot as Corey Perry circled the Columbus net before taking the Perry pass and firing the puck past McElhinney to give his Ducks the 3-1 lead midway through the third period in their November contest. The Ducks would go on to win the game and Manson’s goal would stand up as the game-winner.
27. Brett Pesce (Nov. 22 vs. Los Angeles)
Just 21, Brett Pesce is one young Hurricane who’s been able to take advantage of his playing time on a relatively disappointing club. Two goals so far in two consecutive games on two consecutive days.
But his first goal came against one of the game’s best goalies in Jonathan Quick. Right off the face-off – in the Kings’ zone – Pesce fired a slapper from the point and put his club up 1-0 early. While defenceman can’t always score the prettiest goals, having the ability to fire one the way Pesce did certainly helps in ranking him among the top 27 this season.
26. Colton Parayko (Oct 13. at Calgary)
Some people are still wondering where the heck this kid came from. Surely those in Calgary are still scratching their heads after Colton Parayko finished off his first game at the Saddledome with two goals – including his first career blast.
If that isn’t enough – a two goal performance that is – Parayko also finished with the game winner in Calgary adding to his already impressive night. His first however, was a strong writer through traffic on the powerplay to put the Blues up 3-2 early in the second period. Not a bad night for the big blueliner.
25. Colin Miller (Nov. 3 vs. Dallas)
One of the more interesting young players to suit up for the Boston Bruins this season is Colin Miller. Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Miller finally played his first NHL game with the Bruins earlier this year.
It took the 23-year-old blueliner just 10 games to record his first NHL goal. Off the face-off, he took the pass along the blue line and fired home a one-time bullet through traffic. The goal tied the game early in the first period against the Dallas Stars and jumpstarted the young career of Miller.
Since then, Miller’s played another 10 games (20 total) and he’s recorded 10 points (2g-8a) so far this season. Pretty impressive for a young man finally getting his opportunity with the big club.
[VIDEO: Colin Miller Goal on Kari Lehtonen]
24. Trevor van Riemsdyk (Oct. 10 vs. NY Islanders)
It’s not often that you get a chance to see a defenceman creep in from the point and score a goal on a nice deke in the slot. Well, Trevor van Riemsdyk did just that for the Blackhawks in the third game of the 2015-16 campaign.
The younger van Riemsdyk was able to grab a rebound of a Patrick Kane shot, hesitate while the Islanders goalie went down and fired home a backhander over top of the netminder. The goal put the Hawks up 1-0 early in the first period and marked a milestone moment for the young defender.
Now, he did play 18 games for Chicago in 2014-15 and four games in their playoff run last season, but it wasn’t until this year that he was able to finally get the puck in the net.
23. Shayne Gostisbehere (Nov. 17 vs. Los Angeles)
They call him Ghost, but he’s been anything but transparent since playing his first game in 2015-16 with the Flyers. Sure, he played two relatively quiet games in 2014-15, but it’s his play in nine games this season that have people talking about Shayne Gostisbehere.
On the powerplay – and against one of the leagues best goalies – Gostisbehere fired a one-timer from the point and notched his first career NHL goal to put the Flyers up 1-0 over the Kings in the first period. In his nine games this season, he’s recorded four goals and six points including two game-winning goals.
What makes this goal rank so high on this list is his ability to not only get one past Jonathan Quick, but that it took him just two games this season to record his first and his ability to keep the shot low and get it through from the point.
22. Jyrki Jokipakka (Nov. 3 at Boston)
Just another simple slapper from the point. But Jyrki Jokipakka gets points for scoring his first career goal on Tuukka Rask and the way he was able to get open just inside the Boston blue line in order to get off the one-time shot.
It didn’t hurt being right in front of his bench to celebrate his first career NHL goal – breaking a 2-2 deadlock late in the second period. Not bad rookie.
21. Noah Hanifin (Nov. 16 vs. Anaheim)
A top five pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Noah Hanifin managed to stick with the Carolina Hurricanes for the 2015-16 campaign. While he’s had some solid, consistent play, he finds himself just outside the top 20 when it comes to the most impressive first career goals of the season.
Curiously similar to the Jokipakka goal, Hanifin was able to stick with the play as it moved into the Anaheim zone and fired a drop pass from the blueline past Anton Khudobin. The goal knotted the game up at one apiece.
*Special mention to Evgeny Medvedev who scored his first career NHL goal this season. However, it happened after this series started and therefore who isn’t on the list. But if you’re wondering where he ranks, he’d likely find himself between 28 and 30 – largely in part to his post-goal search for the puck. Let someone else worry about that one Evgeny.
For more, check out the rest of the ‘Career Firsts’ mini-series:
NHL Firsts: 31 to 44
NHL Firsts: 21 to 30
NHL Firsts: 11 to 20
NHL Firsts: 1 to 10
For more, follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.