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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80