SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers' Hall scores in AHL debut

Taylor Hall is happy to be back on the ice. (REUTERS)

Taylor Hall is happy to be back on the ice. (REUTERS)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:45 AM ET

It took all of 38 seconds for Taylor Hall to score in his American Hockey League debut.

However, the Edmonton Oilers winger wasn't around at the end to see the Oklahoma City Barons defeat the Houston Aeros 4-3 on Friday.

Hall scored on his first shift, tipping a Colten Teubert point shot past Aeros goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Then in the third period, Hall was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit on Aeros defenceman Jonas Brodin.

Despite his night not ending the way he would have preferred, Hall was happy to be back on the ice.

"I felt good," Hall said in a telephone conversation after the game. "It's a lot different scenario when you're playing a game, you can only practice so much. Once you get into a game, it's a lot different.

"It was good to get a goal early on and get a little more comfortable, but it'll take me a few more games to get up to 100%."

Hall has not played a game since March, after his NHL season came to a premature end due to a shoulder injury.

The first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry draft needed to undergo off-season shoulder surgery and has spent the past seven months rehabbing.

He had been skating with the Edmonton Oil Kings waiting for the green light from doctors to play again.

"There were some jitters," admitted Hall. "When you're out for seven and-a-half months, it almost feels like you don't know how to play hockey again. So for me to go out in my first game and score on my first shift, it was really exciting and it helped me out a lot.

"I thought I played pretty well, I don't think I would have played as well if I didn't score that goal on my first shift. The jitters, the nerves and the anxiety are a big part of hockey and it's always tough when you're playing your first game."

Jordan Eberle scored a pair of goals, while Teemu Hartikainen added the other in the victory over the Minnesota Wild's top farm club.

Hall started the game on the Barons top line with Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. With the Barons playing three games in three nights, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got the night off.

Hall was able to get a stick on Teubert's point shot to give the Barons the early lead.

"Teubert fired a really good shot through that was easy for me to tip," Hall said. "When the defenceman does that, it's great for us forwards, we just crash the net and whether it had gone in or not, it would have been a great play for us.

"I was able to get my stick on it. I've been working on my deflections and sticks in front and it worked out."

Eberle added the second less than a minute later and Hartikainen scored late in the second period to give the Barons a 3-0 lead.

The Aeros responded with three goals in the third period to tie the game before Eberle scored the winner with just over six minutes left to play.

Things became tight for the Barons towards the end of the third when Hall was assessed a five-minute major for his hit on Brodin. Hall was ruled to have hit the head of Brodin, who had to be helped off the ice.

"To be honest, I thought it was shoulder-to-shoulder and the replay kind of dictates that as well," Hall said. "It's not for sure, but I'm hearing that I broke his collarbone. If that's the case, then it was shoulder on shoulder.

"You never want to be a player that hits guys in the head and is giving guys concussions, that's just not part of the game. Hopefully he has a quick recover, but I didn't mean to hit him in the head if I did."

The eagerness to throw a hit late in the contest would indicate Hall's own shoulder is back to full strength.

Regardless he will not be playing in Saturday's rematch between the teams as the Oilers want to keep him out of back-to-back encounters for the time being. Hall will be back on the ice Sunday when the Barons travel to face the San Antonio Rampage.

"My shoulder felt really good, I didn't think about it during the game," Hall said. "When you come back from injury that's what you want. You don't want to be worrying about how the shoulder feels after every shift.

"I felt really good. I tried not to put myself in vulnerable spots like I did last year and I felt like I did a pretty good job."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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