Zach Benson was the 13th overall pick of the 2023 NHL draft, and before Wednesday, he had skated in eight games, putting up four assists.
But his 9th game became special as he scored one of the most breathtaking first goals ever seen in the National Hockey League.
It’s unforgettable to score your first goal in the big league and to score it on a highlight-reel, between-the-legs shot is something even more remarkable.
The Buffalo Sabres now have to decide what to do with Benson in the future, as a tenth game played would mean his contract starts and can no longer slide. But Benson’s performance and his incredible goal definitely helped his cause.
Now, Sabres fans can’t wait to see more of him, and it would be brave of the organization to keep him out of the lineup with what he showed on Wednesday in mind.
It wasn’t just his first NHL goal; it was probably the goal of the season. He took a pass and skated toward the Capitals’ net, and instead of going for the backhand, like most rookies—and even veterans—would, he pulled the puck between his skates and roofed a shot in goal.
Veteran goalie Darcy Kuemper didn’t stand a chance, and it meant a 2-0 lead for the Sabres at 16:04 of the first period.
Postgame, Benson revealed that he stays late after practices to try moves like the one he pulled off for his first goal.
“I’m just trying to do the move that I think is going to work, and I just kind of let my instincts take over,” Benson said after the game, which the Capitals won 4-3 in OT.
The goal quickly went viral and made the rounds on social media. It would’ve done so if it was scored by anyone, but the fact that it was someone’s first NHL goal made it even more spectacular.
What the future holds for him is unclear.
If he doesn’t play another game, the Sabres could slide the start of his contract to next year.
“I’m just trying to be consistent and play my game every game and help this team win hockey games,” Benson said. “That’s really my mindset, whatever I can do to help this team win.”