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Red Wings Firsts: Riley Sheahan

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Red Wings Firsts: Riley Sheahan

Riley Sheahan eventually scored nine goals for the Red Wings last season but his first one helped Detroit defeat the Los Angeles Kings last January. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – When Riley Sheahan scored his first career NHL goal in Detroit’s 3-1 victory in Los Angeles on Jan. 11, Red Wings fans everywhere cheered with enthusiasm.

But few celebrated as loudly as the center’s family.

“My mom (Peggy) was telling me stories about the people dancing around the house and things like that,” Sheahan said. “So it was cool to share that with them and they had a good time with it.”

Although netting the goal was an exciting moment for Sheahan, he didn’t have time to dwell on the accomplishment as the Red Wings and Kings still had two periods of hockey left to play. It wasn’t until after the game when Sheahan picked up his cell phone and read the countless messages of congratulations that the magnitude of his goal set in.

“It was definitely a little bit surreal,” Sheahan said. “But you’re kind of in the moment of the game and you just sort of think about how you can help the team win. It sort of started to build more towards when the game ended and I started checking my phone and saw all the text messages and people congratulating me so that was pretty special.”

Sheahan’s success at Staples Center didn’t end with his goal, as the 22-year-old also assisted on Tomas Tatar’s game-winner midway through the final period of the contest. But it was the puck he snuck by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick that Sheahan will carry with him for years to come.

“It’ll be nice to get it framed and maybe with a picture in there or something,” Sheahan said. “But it’s pretty special.”

The St. Catherines, Ontario, native was initially recalled from the Detroit’s minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids on Dec. 17 to replace Johan Franzen, who was sidelined by a head injury that caused him to miss 22 games.

Sheahan appeared in four games with the Wings from Dec. 17-28, during which time he earned his first point, a two-assist night on Dec. 21 in Detroit’s 5-4 victory over Toronto.

The center was assigned to Grand Rapids one week later after Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc) and Justin Abdelkader (concussion) returned to the Wings’ lineup, but Sheahan didn’t remain in the AHL for long. The 22-year-old was recalled on Jan. 11 to replace Daniel Alfredsson, who missed six games with back spasms.

Sheahan didn’t waste any time getting comfortable with the Wings, earning his first NHL goal in his first game back. And that was just the beginning. The center went on to notch nine goals and 15 assists through 42 games, including the game-tying goal in Detroit’s 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on April 10, which gave the Wings the one magical point they needed to extend their playoff streak to 23 years.

The center became a key part of the club’s “Kid Line,” skating alongside Tatar and Tomas Jurco, and attributed much of his success in the NHL to the culture built in Grand Rapids. It didn’t hurt that he skated on a line with two of his former Griffins teammates, either.

“We got a really good system down there, great coaching, a great group of guys down there,” Sheahan said. “So when you go down there it’s a really easy environment to sort of get better. They push you a lot in the weight room, and on the ice during practice is pretty intense so it’s helped a lot for me and I know the other guys as well.”

And the young players took advantage of every opportunity they received to showcase their talents and earn permanent spots on Detroit’s roster.

“Anytime guys can help, guys appreciate it,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You’re up here trying to take someone else’s job, that’s what it’s all about.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89