2016 first-overall pick Auston Matthews turned some heads during his first NHL game this season. The 19-year-old Leafs forward scored four goals – the most ever in a NHL debut.
Ten years earlier, Matthews was present himself for another head-turning hockey moment – this time involving Alex Ovechkin when he was a rookie.
An eight-year-old Auston Matthews was at Glendale Arena when Ovechkin scored The Goal, the historic tally where the Russian machine beat Brian Boucher from an impossible angle while rolling over on his back.
“I was there, yeah,” Matthews told Sportsnet. “It was unbelievable. That was back when I think Gretzky was coaching. He was just looking up. He couldn’t believe it. I think everybody up in the stands – nobody really cheered – they really couldn’t get their heads wrapped around what just happened.”
“On his back and somehow managed to get it toward the area into the net,” Matthews added in an interview with The Toronto Sun. “Just to see it in person is pretty special. It’s probably one of the best goals ever.”
Matthews grew up near Gilbert, Arizona, and went to his first NHL game when he was very young.
As a toddler he attended his first N.H.L. game with his father, and his uncle, Billy Matthews, a Coyotes season-ticket holder. “I remember it being really loud,” Matthews said.
Shortly after his sixth birthday, Matthews surprised his father by stating a desire to play hockey. His father has videotape of Matthews’s first trip around the ice.
“He had a very big grin on his face,” Brian Matthews said. “I remember seeing that smile and thinking, Dang, this is going to be an expensive sport.”
Auston played Ovechkin for the first time Saturday night at Air Canada Center. Matthews would score his ninth goal of the season. It would stand as the game-winning tally.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 27, 2016
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