DETROIT – In a mere 63 seconds, Riley Sheahan got his name on the score-sheet. Unfortunately for the rookie Red Wing, it was not in the form of a goal or an assist. No, the first shift of his first NHL game ended with him sitting in the penalty box for four minutes, after a high-sticking penalty against Chicago’s Jimmy Hayes.
The Blackhawks didn’t convert on the opportunity, saving Sheahan from the humiliating skate back to the home bench that would’ve likely ensued.
“It was the slowest four minutes of my life,” Sheahan said, after Detroit’s 3-2 shootout loss. “But, the guys did a great job of killing it off.”
Sheahan, 20, wound up with 6:03 of ice time in his big-league debut. The 2010 first round pick played left wing, on a line with Cory Emmerton at center and Tomas Holmstrom on the right side.
While he played a total of nine shifts, and just one in the third period, the St. Catherines, Ontario, native did have a nice scoring chance at 9:02 in the first. He nearly whacked a puck out of midair and past Corey Crawford, but the goalie blocked it away with his shoulder.
“It was just some good work down low by Holmstrom,” Sheahan explained. “He got the puck to the net, it took a funny bounce, and I tried to get a stick on it. I got pretty good wood on it, but not enough, I guess.”
Sheahan admitted to feeling some pregame jitters, but said he managed to keep down his pregame meal. Stepping out onto the Joe Louis Arena ice, amongst a bevy of All Stars populating both benches, seemed somewhat surreal.
“To look around and see all the big-name players, and realizing who you’re talking to, it’s hard not to think about what they’ve accomplished,” Sheahan said. “You’ve just got to stay focused, and try not to be star-struck. At the same time, it’s a lot of fun.”
Having just signed a three-year entry level contract with the Red Wings on Thursday, Sheahan’s whirlwind hockey season reached a high note on Saturday. His parents and “lots” of family members were in attendance, adding to the uniqueness of the event.
“Everything’s happened so fast,” Sheahan said. “From being at Notre Dame, to going up to Grand Rapids. I’m sure when I get back to my hotel today, I’ll sort of realize what I just did, and think about it a little more.”
Clearly, this was a long way from the classes at Notre Dame – where he’d still be had he not signed his contract and left school early. French, criminology and guitar were on his slate this semester, before he withdrew from the university.
“It was much better than being in class,” Sheahan said, sporting a giant grin.