Regina-born Eberle's OT winner helps Islanders avoid elimination in NHL playoffs
REGINA -- Regina’s Jordan Eberle scored one of the biggest goals of his NHL career on Tuesday night, helping the New York Islanders stay alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The former Regina Pats winger notched the double OT winner for the Islanders, who were trailing 3-1 in the Eastern Conference final to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The goal gave New York the 2-1 win and avoiding elimination.
“You know, that’s the biggest one in a long time,” Eberle told reporters after the game, from inside the NHL bubble.
It was just his second goal in 15 contests, but for Eberle, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“You have to look at the whole play, [Anders] Lee made a heck of a job chipping it to himself and then making a great pass to me and I just kind of had to put it in so a lot of credit should go to him too,” Eberle said.
Eberle played four seasons with the Pats from 2006 to 2010. For three of those seasons, Curtis Hunt was his head coach.
Hunt worked with Eberle as early as peewee, and coached him at a hockey school in Regina for much of the NHL player’s minor hockey career.
“He could always hold his own, his skill level, his intelligence, he was able to play with the older kids without a problem even though the size was always an issue,” Hunt said.
Eberle stands just 5 feet 11 inches, but would go on to represent Canada at two World Junior Championships. He scored another clutch goal in the 2009, helping the Canadians defeat Russia in the championship game.
During his WHL career, he scored 155 goals in four seasons with the Pats.
“He scored a lot of goals walking off the goal line, he would practice that move over and over again,” said Hunt.
The first round NHL draft pick began his career in Edmonton, but was traded to the Islanders after the 2017 playoffs.
Scoring in his former club’s barn for the first time in an NHL playoff game had some shades of vindication.
“He’s got a lot of confidence as a player,” Hunt said. “But it just continues to show as coaches he’s a guy in a key moment that you want on the ice.”
Eberle and the Islanders are now trailing 3-2 in the Eastern Conference series to a Tampa Bay Lightning squad with another former WHL standout, Brayden Point.
“What a great incentive to get out and watch junior hockey because you just never know how far these kids go,” says Hunt.
Game Six between the Islanders and the Lightning begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday.