Scoring that first NHL goal is one of the best moments of any player’s career. The puck is given to the player as a souvenir. Sometimes it takes that first goal to relax a player and really show their skills. With so many homegrown players on the team, many New York Islanders scored their first goal wearing the blue and orange. Let’s take a look back at those goals and who they were scored against.
Josh Bailey (Jan. 2, 2009)
It is hard to believe that Josh Bailey has been with the Islanders for over a decade. It took until his 25th game, but he scored his first NHL goal against Mikael Tellqvist of the then-Phoenix Coyotes — a wild game that New York lost 5-4 despite scoring three third-period goals.
Remarkably, Bailey ranks fifth in games played (853) with the franchise and if he can remain with the Islanders for the rest of his career, he could break the record held by Bryan Trottier who played 1,123 games. He also ranks 10th all time in assists with 318 in what has been a roller coaster career with the Islanders.
Matt Martin (Oct. 29, 2010)
While Matt Martin is known for his physical presence on the fourth line, he has a tendency to score big-time goals and his first is no exception. In his seventh career game, Martin was set up in front of the net and one-timed a pass from Frans Nielsen from behind the net to beat Alex Auld of the Montreal Canadiens. He scored his first NHL goal in the second period, and ended the game an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat trick, as he fought Hal Gill minutes after he scored.
He also had his first two career fights in 2010, against former Islander Nate Thompson and future Islander Tyler Kennedy. Later in his career, Martin played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but returned to the Islanders at the start of 2018-19 season. He scored in his third game back in a win over the San Jose Sharks.
Brock Nelson (Oct. 22, 2013)
Brock Nelson made his NHL debut in the 2012 NHL Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While he did not score in his one game in the postseason, Nelson scored just minutes into his fifth regular season game. Peter Regin attempted a wraparound which came to Nelson in front for his first NHL goal against Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks at home.
Coming to the Islanders as a talented prospect, Nelson is the grandson of 1960 Olympic gold medalist Bill Christian and great nephew to 1980 gold medalist Dave Christian. His rookie year was the only season that he did not reach the 20-goal mark until 2018-19 when he had 19. Nelson is on pace for more than 30 goals for the first time in his career and has been one of the most underrated players in the entire NHL.
Casey Cizikas (Jan. 29, 2013)
Casey Cizikas’ first career goal came against the same goaltender he scored his first career playoff goal against, Marc-Andre Fleury. In a nationally televised game on NBC, Cizikas took advantage of a giveaway by Paul Martin and wrapped in the opening goal of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in his 19th career game.
The Islanders went on to lose the game, but Cizikas had an exciting first career playoff goal in Game 3 of the playoffs later that season. He also scored in Game 4 and forced Fleury to be benched after his fluky goal, but the Penguins won the series in six games before the Islanders swept them six years later.
Thomas Hickey (Feb. 21, 2013)
While Thomas Hickey is currently playing in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he scored a memorable first goal in overtime against the Canadiens in his 10th career game. After John Tavares entered the Canadians zone, he was knocked down, but found Michael Grabner who assisted on a tap-in goal for Hickey against the Canadiens and Carey Price.
In his career, the defenseman has only scored 23 goals, but has had six of them come in overtime. While most fans remember Wade Dubielewicz’s poke check to get the Islanders into the playoffs, Hickey scored an overtime goal to clinch a playoff spot, as well as a winner in Game 3 of the first round of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season hasn’t gone as well as he would have liked, as he was sent to the Sound Tigers and then suffered an injury, and has yet to play in the NHL this season.
Anders Lee (April 2, 2013)
When Anders Lee scored his first career goal against the Winnipeg Jets, there were a few memorable parts. Other than it being in a pivotal game in April that the Islanders won, Lee was the last person in the building to realize his wrist shot from way out beat Ondrej Pavelec. It was also one of the rare goals that Lee did not score right in front of the net. There are not many times Lee leads a rush into the offensive zone.
After attending college at the University of Notre Dame, Lee signed late in the season and scored in his first game. He followed that up with an assist in the final regular-season game of the year against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, he did not play in the Islanders’ playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and later went on to miss the playoffs again in 2016 with a fractured leg after getting hit with a slapshot from Johnny Boychuk.
Adam Pelech (Nov. 22, 2016)
While Adam Pelech has blossomed into one of the Islanders’ best defensemen before his season-ending injury, he scored his first goal in a game that will be remembered as the longest shootout in franchise history versus the Anaheim Ducks. Pelech’s goal tied the game at one in the second period on a wrist shot with assists from Calvin de Haan and Bailey on Jonathan Bernier.
While Nick Leddy won the shootout in the 14th round, it took Pelech 15 games for him to score his first. He mostly played on the penalty kill, though he scored as many as five goals last season and will be missed down the stretch this season. He had a career-high plus-24 on the best defensive hockey team in 2018-19.
Ryan Pulock (March 17, 2016)
With all the rocket shots that Ryan Pulock has let go, his first NHL goal came in his 11th game on one of the most harmless looking shots from the blue line to beat Pekka Rinne. Nelson scored later in the game for the Islanders, but they would fall 4-2 on the road in a late regular-season game against the Nashville Predators.
His first career playoff goal was a lot more memorable, as he scored on the 5-3 advantage against the Florida Panthers. The Islanders trailed 2-0 at the time and Pulock let go a slap shot from the point to put the Islanders on the board in a game they would eventually win on Hickey’s goal in overtime.
Anthony Beauvillier (Nov. 25, 2016)
While Barzal was the top pick for the Islanders in 2015, Anthony Beauvillier has turned out to be a terrific late first-round pick. Making his debut in 2016-17, Beauvillier scored his first NHL goal in his third contest against Aaron Dell versus the San Jose Sharks. It came on an assist from Bailey and Tavares despite the Islanders falling 3-2 on a late goal scored by Joe Pavelski.
Since his first goal, Beauvillier has spent part of two seasons in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Since his second recall, Beauvillier plays every night and has brought great energy to the Islanders’ second line. The team traded up to get him and have seen their young goalscorer succeed the same way he did in juniors — he already has two overtime goals this season.
Mat Barzal (Oct. 19, 2017)
The Islanders’ superstar kicked off his career with a memorable first goal. It came against the New York Rangers in his ninth NHL game. The play began with Calvin de Haan making a short pass to Barzal and the young rookie used his speed to get around Rick Nash and beat Henrik Lundqvist to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
The Islanders eventually went on to win the game in a shootout at Madison Square Garden. Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored the two shootout goals. Barzal also won the Calder Trophy that season after scoring 22 goals and registering 85 points. Coming up as a highly talented first-round pick, Barzal was unable to score in his only two games in 2016-17 and is more remembered that season for taking a penalty for playing the puck in the penalty box. Barzal had one assist prior to his goal with a helper to Josh Bailey against the Los Angeles Kings.
Sebastian Aho (Jan. 7, 2018)
While the Carolina Hurricanes have the more popular Sebastian Aho, the Islanders have their own. While being a minus-4 through his first two NHL games, Aho scored his first on a power play in his third game. It came on a shot from the slot against Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils and helped the Islanders overcome a two-goal deficit and win in a shootout.
Devon Toews (Jan. 4, 2019)
While Jonathan Toews may have been the more notable Toews in the overtime between the Chicago Blackhawks and Islanders, it was Devon Toews who scored the overtime winner for his first career goal. With a little over three minutes to go in overtime, Bailey set up Toews for a chance. After Collin Delia made a terrific initial save, he deposited the rebound home for the 3-2 win in his fifth career game.
Toews’ chance in the NHL came after Hickey was injured in 2018. While it was initially going to be a short call-up, Toews impressed enough to not come out of the lineup. He had a plethora of injuries early in his career, but has turned out to be one of the best defensemen on the Islanders.
Michael Dal Colle (Jan. 17, 2019)
After a handful of first-round picks did not work out for the Islanders, the pressure was on for Michael Dal Colle to contribute immediately. He scored his first at the Coliseum against the Devils on a great redirect off a shot from Scott Mayfield to beat Mackenzie Blackwood in an Islanders win.
While his debut came in the 2017-18 season against the New York Rangers, it took Dal Colle until his 14th game to score. In his junior career, he routinely led his team in scoring and has found himself in the lineup regularly this season on the third line and has a couple of game-winning goals in his career.
Cole Bardreau (Nov. 5, 2019)
To score your first career goal is one thing, but to have it come on a penalty shot in a tie game is something else. For Bardreau, that is exactly how it happened against the Ottawa Senators in his seventh career game. He was taken down on a breakaway and then scored on the penalty shot against Craig Anderson.
Noah Dobson (Jan. 14, 2020)
As they always say, a fluke goal looks just as good on the scoresheet than a beautiful wrist shot from the slot. For Dobson, it was not the latter, as he floated a weak wrist shot wide that Alex Biega knocked into his own net for Dobson’s first against the Detroit Red Wings and Calvin Pickard in his 18th game.
It did not take long for him to register his first point, though, as it came in his first game and he had three assists up until his first goal on Pickard. It had been hard for Dobson to break into the lineup, but since the Pelech injury, he has solidified himself in the lineup every night.
Kieffer Bellows (Feb. 6, 2020)
It took Kieffer Bellows only one game to register his first point and two games to score his first goal. He finished a beautiful pass from Beauvillier to net his first and then scored the game winner in the third period from a tough angle to help the Islanders defeat the Kings.
Currently, every skater on the Islanders’ roster has scored an NHL goal. However, Oliver Wahlstrom and Otto Koivula could be the next to be added to this list if they are able to make it back to the NHL. While they both should have long careers in the NHL, time will tell if they join the Islanders during the remainder of the season.
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Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor degree in journalism. Originally from Long Island, he moved to Parkland shortly after high school. Matt worked as the assistant sports editor for his school paper, eaglenews.com in college becoming just one of nine students in his graduation class to serve over 1,000 community service hours. His goal is to travel to every Major League Baseball stadium, and has been to multiple US Open finals.