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We were treated to arguably the feel-good factor of the 2020-21 NHL season on Thursday thanks to Steven Lorentz, who made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Steven who? Yeah, a few of you may have been asking yourself that question before last night.
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After all, Lorentz was the 186th overall pick in the Seventh Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and hadn’t sniffed the NHL up until this point, spending his career switching between the ECHL with the Florida Everblades and the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers, making the full transition to the American Hockey League in 2019-20 with 46 points (23 G, 23 A) in 61 games.
Granted, Lorentz had been on the outside looking in having scored in a preseason game for the Hurricanes in 2019, while he also travelled to The Bubble in Toronto for the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, although he didn’t play. And, with the AHL having yet to start this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 24-year-old was waiting for any kind of opportunity.
Steven Lorentz is the feel-good story of the 2020-21 NHL Season
And, as the old saying goes, good things comes to those who wait. With the Carolina Hurricanes preparing to start up their 2020-21 NHL season again after having four games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, they were preparing to take on a juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning team without a plethora of key players. Defenseman Jaccob Slavin and forwards Jesper Fast, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele were all on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol list so had to miss the game against the Lightning.
Therefore, the Hurricanes were incredibly shorthanded and needed some serious manpower throughout the lineup, so the time finally arrived for Steven Lorentz to make his NHL debut. While his family couldn’t be there, and Sara Civian of The Athletic did a brilliant job of covering the human element in this superb story here, it was still a special night for Lorentz who got to live out a childhood dream.
From the traditional solo rookie lap to skating on a line with Hurricanes Captain Jordan Staal, which must have been a real pinch-yourself moment, it was quite the whirlwind NHL debut for Lorentz and probably not how he had imagined it so many times in his head given the unprecedented circumstances this year.
And it was a pretty solid NHL debut for Lorentz who recorded 14:41 of ice time while registering a shot on goal, two hits and one Takeaway. He also got a small taste of life on the penalty kill and, overall, the 6-foot-4, 207 pounds forward covered himself in plenty of glory and perhaps convinced Carolina Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour that he can be relied on in a year where sudden absences are to be expected.
He’s also Brind’Amour’s perfect type of player given that he is a Swiss Army Knife type player in that he plays a hard-nosed game, he plays hard in the defensive zone, he is aggressive on the forecheck, he can kill penalties and he’ll put his body on the line for the good of the team. Basically, Steven Lorentz is just a coach’s dream.
He certainly played his part in what was a big win for the Carolina Hurricanes last night as they beat the Lightning 1-0 in Overtime thanks to Martin Necas‘ first goal of the year despite being shorthanded, and I don’t think we have seen the last of Lorentz this season.
But, no matter what would have happened on Thursday night, Steven Lorentz is exactly the type of player anyone can get behind and his inspiring story of grafting and never giving up on the way to achieving a lifelong dream of playing in the National Hockey League is one we can all aspire to and really appreciate, especially during the current climate when so many of us have or are going through trying times.
So, while we will move on and the games will keep coming thick and fast in the National Hockey League, it is important that we remember the moment Steven Lorentz made his NHL debut because his story is one of tremendous character and determination on his way to chasing a dream that ultimately came true, and it will go down as one of the real feel-good and most inspiring stories of the 2020-21 NHL season.
We’re only a couple of weeks into the 2020-21 season but we may as well just give the Calder Trophy to Minnesota Wild stud Kirill Kaprizov at this point.
While it is going to be a tough year for the rebuilding Ottawa Senators, there is no doubt that they have a bright future with Josh Norris.