March 25, 2012
Oiler call-up notches first NHL goal
By Derek Van Diest, QMI AGENCY
COLUMBUS - Chris VandeVelde got the traditional shaving cream pie in the face Sunday after scoring his first NHL goal.
The Edmonton Oilers centre had been called up a day earlier from the team’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City, taking Shawn Horcoff’s place in the lineup.
Horcoff was unable to play Sunday due to back spasms.
“I heard it was Theo Peckham, but I don’t know,” said VandeVelde, who was hit during a live post-game interview. “But it feels nice to get that goal and get it off my chest. I had a few games up here last year and it didn’t happen. So it’s nice that it happened on my first game here (Sunday).”
VandeVelde, 25, was selected by the Oilers in the fourth round — 97th overall — of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
The native of Moorhead, Minn., who played collegiate hockey at the University of North Dakota, dressed in 12 games for the Oilers last season, collecting a pair of assists.
Against the Blue Jackets, VandeVelde score the Oilers second goal, stepping over the blue-line on a rush and firing a shot through goaltender Steve Mason.
“I didn’t even really see it go in,” VandeVelde said. “I just shot it through the defenceman’s stick and it went through the goalie’s legs. I kind of got lucky and it went in.”
VandeVelde has seven goals and 15 assists in 65 games this season with the Barons. He had 12 goals and four assists in 67 games last year with the AHL club.
VandeVelde was on the Oilers flight back to Edmonton with the club following Sunday’s contest. However, he’ll return to the Barons once Horcoff is cleared to play.
VandeVelde was rushed to Columbus to join the Oilers once it was evident Horcoff would not be able to suit up for the last game of a four-game road trip.
“I was in the middle of playing three games in three nights there,” VandeVelde said. “I was at home in Oklahoma, and got a call from (head coach) Todd Nelson saying that I was going up. I had about an hour to get ready, get to the airport and get here.”
Theo Peckham’s sense of humour was still intact after being knocked out of Sunday’s encounter.
The Oilers defenceman had to leave the game with a concussion after being driven into the corner by Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash in the first period.
That didn’t stop him from giving VandeVelde a shaving cream pie in the face after the call-up scored his first NHL goal.
“I looked out and saw him there,” smiled Peckham. “But I don’t really remember what happened. I have a concussion, so I don’t really know what you’re talking about.”
Peckham had fallen and was sliding on his knees when Nash pushed him from behind, causing the defenceman to go face-first into the boards in the first period.
He lay on the ice for a while before heading to the dressing room. Peckham came back a few minutes later, but was then pulled from the game after the second period.
“I came back and I felt pretty good,” Peckham said. “But once I started skating around and I got hit couple more times, I could tell that something wasn’t right. I’ll see how I feel (Monday) and go from there.”
Despite the concussion, Peckham was able to remember his first goal, which wasn’t accompanied by the traditional pie following the game.
“My first goal we were losing 6-1 with a minute left,” Peckham said. “I scored against Detroit. I’d take it back to not lose 6-1. But there wasn’t much celebrating going on when I got my first one.”
Ladislav Smid doesn’t want to be labeled as an offensive-defenceman, but at this rate, the tag may just stick.
Smid scored his fifth goal of the season Sunday, giving him more than any other defenceman on the Oilers’ roster.
Smid had gone nearly two years between goals prior to finding his scoring touch this season.
“I’m really surprised,” smiled Smid. “Even (Sunday), I had two or three chances and I scored on the least-dangerous chance.
“I’m really happy, hopefully I can keep it going.”
Smid has been one of the Oilers most reliable defenceman this season in his own end, leading the club in blocked shots.
He’s never scored five goals in a season dating back to his days playing junior hockey in the Czech Republic.
“I think it’s a confidence thing,” Smid said. “I’m just trying to play solid defensively and it builds my confidence a little bit. From good defence you can create some good offence and I think that’s what it is.”