Wednesday was a busy night in the American Hockey League. Six games were played, with one getting postponed due to COVID protocol. Prospects for the Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins each netted their first North American professional goals and Calgary Flames draftee found the back of the net for the first time this season.
Jack Dugan Nets First Goal in Henderson
Fans of college hockey are no stranger to the 22-year-old Dugan. He scored 20 goals and 91 points in 75 career games for Providence College. Prior to that, he spent one season with the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL) where he put up 31 goals and 66 points in 54 contests.
The young winger has always looked to facilitate his teammates before shooting the puck and that has not changed in his first AHL season with the Henderson Silver Knights. His full skillset was on full display in the marquee match-up between the 5-1 Knights and the 7-1 San Diego Gulls, in which Henderson won 4-2.
After picking up the primary assists on the Silver Knights’ first two goals by Paul Cotter and Gage Quinney, Dugan scored his first professional goal. He was the last player to touch the puck during a mad scramble in front of the net to get credit for the eventual game-winning goal.
Dugan, 22, is now averaging a point per game through his first seven AHL games with a goal and six assists. The Golden Knights drafted him with their fifth-round pick (142nd overall) and signed him to an entry-level contract this past summer?
Radim Zohorna Scores His First North American Goals
Last April, the Penguins signed Zohorna out of the Czech Republic and he eventually made the trip to North America once the NHL camps opened. The 6-foot-6 forward is an intriguing prospect as he brings size and smarts to the ice. At 24, he also brings nearly 200 games of professional experience in his native country.
Zohorna had a huge night on Wednesday with a three-point game. His two goals were the difference in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-2 win over the Hershey Bears, their first home win on the 2020-21 season.
His first AHL goal fame with just 12 seconds left in the first period to tie the game at one. His second goal of the night was the eventual game-winner as he broke a 2-2 tie halfway through the middle frame. For good measure, he picked up an assist on Nick Schilkey’s third-period insurance goal.
Zohorna is off to a great start on his first trip overseas. He now has two goals and five points in his first five games within the Penguins organization.
Adam Ruzicka Leads the Way to Victory
Another European import had a three-point night to lead his team to victory. Ruzicka, a 21-year-old Slovakian forward, had two goals and an assist to lead the Stockton Heat to a 4-2 win over the Toronto Marlies. This was the Heat’s first win on the season, who are playing in Calgary because of the travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.
“I feel a lot better now that I have a lot of games under my belt,” Ruzicka said about being in his second professional season. “I feel more confident. I just try to play simple and take a step every day.”
The Flames drafted the 6-foot-4 forward in the fourth-round (109th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and signed him back in 2019. Ruzicka had 10 goals and 27 points in 54 games during his rookie season with the Heat in 2019-20. This came after a successful junior career with the Sarnia Sting in Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he scored 96 goals and 196 points in 189 games.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.