In the middle of a dominant first period, and after weeks of pain, the Edmonton Oilers may have found their feel-good story of the season so far.
Midway through the frame, with the team already up a goal and controlling the play in the offensive zone, Oilers prospect James Hamblin found the loose puck and put a beautiful shot high glove side for his first career NHL goal.
After scoring, Hamblin pumped his heart a few times and pointed to the sky—his first NHL goal in honour of his late mother who passed away in 2017.
It’s hard not to smile or shed a tear at that kind of hockey moment.
For those who don’t know Hamblin well, his story is that of an Edmonton kid’s dream: growing up to play hockey for the Oilers. His path to the NHL was more challenging than others, as he was an undrafted player before signing with the Bakersfield Condors in April of 2020. He had an illustrious junior career but was waiting for his full-time NHL shot.
Daniel Nugent-Bowman wrote an incredible piece last November when Hamblin made his NHL debut. I highly recommend the full article as the story is handled with a lot of love and care, far better than I could ever summarize.
Former Condors head coach, Jay Woodcroft, gave him that shot last season for ten games of NHL action, but he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet. This season, it took him just six games to reach the back of the net.
A goal can often mean far more than just one more on the scoresheet, especially when it comes to someone’s first in the NHL. But this one meant far more to Hamblin, who lost his mother to cancer in 2017. After scoring the goal, you can clearly see him mouth the words: “That’s for you Mom” during his celebration.
Hamblin and his family have been through a lot over the last few years, and despite not having his mom at the game tonight this will surely be one of the family’s most treasured moments.