CHICAGO – Some players are lucky to find the net the first time they ever step on the ice. Others are not so much and have to wait a while to score goal No. 1 in the National Hockey League.
Dylan Sikura was the latter, and his wait was over the course of years and not just games.
The forward made his NHL debut on March 29, 2018 against the Jets in Winnipeg, and while he got a pair of assists in that game, he didn’t get a goal. He wouldn’t for the next 42 games after that, with four contests coming in the 2017-2018 season, 33 in 2018-2019, and the first five of this campaign.
Finally, in his 44th game, it happened.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 6, 2020
With 4:08 to go in the second period, with the Blackhawks trailing 2-1, Sikura was in the right spot for a rebound on the right side of the net and scored his first goal. The forward jumped into teammate Erik Gustafsson’s arms and sported a big smile as he skated towards the bench to get his well-deserved congratulations.
It was a major part of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 comeback victory over a struggling Detroit team, and made Sikura a popular man for 24 hours.
“It was pretty busy,” said Sikura when asked if he got lots of calls and text messages after his first career goal. “Happy to get that over with and it’s nice to see how many people reach out.”
It did take 44 games, so it was a moment many had waited for from the forward, who has split time between Rockford and Chicago the last three seasons.
So was it joy or relief for Sikura to finally get that long-awaited goal?
“A bit of both, probably a relief, more than anything,” said Sikura when asked that question. “That weighed on me for a long time, so it was nice to get that one out of the way.”
Maybe it will help to open things up a bit for Sikura, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Unable to find consistent production, the forward has bounced between the AHL and NHL the last two years with Jeremy Colliton trying to find the best fit for him on a Blackhawks team that continues to get younger.
Sikura credits Colliton and the coaching staff for not letting the frustration get to him as he waited for the breakthrough.
“You have to look at the positives, I think coach does a great job of that of letting you know where you stand. Obviously, if you’re doing the right things, producing can be an extra sometimes,” said Sikura. “It’s always nice to help out in a win, especially in this stretch where we’re at right now.
“Leave that one behind us now and look forward to the next game.”
Which for the first time, finally, he’ll have the shot to start an NHL goal-scoring streak.