Last night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Zach Sill scored his first career NHL goal. He probably won’t score many more throughout his career, and he’s probably OK with that.
Sill, 26, has played in 32 games for the Penguins this season, as well as 20 in 2013-14. He became the fourth Pittsburgh Penguin to record his first career goal this season, joining defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Derrick Pouliot as well as Bryan Rust. Those players likely envisioned scoring their first career goal from the moment they were drafted, or before then, even. Even when Sill was signed as an undrafted free-agent by the Penguins in 2009, nobody envisioned him doing much, if any, scoring with the Penguins – particularly not in the fashion he did on Wednesday night.
Taking a pass from Andrew Ebbett behind the net, Sill, stationed in the slot, roofed the puck past Corey Crawford, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead in half and putting the Penguins on the board.
The unlikely NHLer’s path to Pittsburgh began in Truro, Nova Scotia – Sill’s hometown. He played for the Maritime Hockey League’s Truro Bearcats for a season-and-a-half, before receiving a scholarship from the University of Maine. He played just six games in 2006-07 with the NCAA school before being sent back home midway through the season.
Fortunately, Sill’s hometown Bearcats welcomed him back with open arms and he went on to win the MHL Playoff MVP that season. And because collegiate hockey was now out of the question, joining a QMJHL team only seemed logical. Sill spent two seasons with the Moncton Wildcats, the team that selected him in the eighth round of the 2005 QMJHL Draft, and carved out a role that he has played to perfection in the Penguins organization – the pest.
Sill is an energy forward who, when he does score, does so in the blue paint and through hard work and a strong forecheck. And sure, the goal may never have happened if the Penguins weren’t riddled with injuries, as seems to be the case every year, but that certainly doesn’t decrease the sentimental value of the moment – and for Sill, there’s an abundance.
“It’s nice to finally get that,” Sill told Dave Molinari at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It wasn’t the bang-bang around the net that I was kind of expecting it to be.”
So, in that case, he gets a pass for nearly removing Bryan Bickell’s head from his neck mid-celebration (see video). Here’s hoping he doesn’t have to wait another 51 games to redeem himself on the celebration.