Rookie sensation Zach Benson made headlines on Wednesday night by scoring one of the most creative first career goals in NHL history.
The 18-year-old forward for the Buffalo Sabres pulled off the incredible between-the-legs goal late in the first period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena.
Benson received a pass from teammate Victor Olofsson below the hashmarks and proceeded to put the puck between his legs as he cut towards the net. He then lifted the puck top shelf over Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 23, 2023
The jaw-dropping goal immediately went viral on social media and was hailed as an early contender for goal of the year.
This looks like a highlight from a video game. pic.twitter.com/PaJEaj4hj9
— Dan Fetes (@danfetes) November 23, 2023
“Honestly, I’m just trying to be consistent, play my game every game, help this team win hockey games,” he said. “That’s really my mindset is whatever I can do to help this team win, that was really kind of the thinking process on my behalf.”
Benson’s jaw-dropping tally evoked memories of other young stars announcing their arrival with highlight-reel first goals.
Jordan Eberle similarly burst onto the scene by scoring his first NHL goal for the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 on a slick backhand shot, as immortalized in a popular TSN commercial.
Mario Lemieux also wasted no time making his mark, scoring on his first shift and shot in his NHL debut for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984.
Check out some memorable first career NHL goals below:
Benson has been a revelation for the Sabres since making the team out of training camp. The 13th overall pick in the 2023 draft has quickly established himself as one of the Sabres’ most creative forwards. He now has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 9 games.
Sabres head coach Don Granato has been impressed with Benson’s confidence and ability to pull off high-skill plays at a young age. “You see players do that in practice but to have the poise and guts to try it in a game is really exceptional,” he said.
The highlight-reel tally comes at a critical juncture for Benson and the Sabres. Buffalo has only two more games to decide whether to keep Benson past the 9-game threshold to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to his junior team. His dazzling debut goal will certainly give management more to ponder.
For now, Benson and the Sabres are focused on building off the thrilling victory. “That was amazing but now it’s back to work and getting ready for the next game,” Benson remarked.
With young talents like Benson showing flashes of brilliance, the future continues to look bright in Buffalo.
Sabres fans will be buzzing about his goal for years to come as the youngster develops into a franchise cornerstone.