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Holden scores memorable goal

St. Albert defenceman lights the lamp for Colorado Avalanche in Thursday's loss against Edmonton Oilers

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 06:00 am

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  • BIG D IN DENVER - Colorado Avalanche defenceman Nick Holden of St. Albert keeps close tabs on Tanner Pearson of the Los Angeles Kings during a Sept. 20 exhibition game at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The former midget AAA Raider has two goals and one assist in eight games in his first season with Colorado.
    BIG D IN DENVER - Colorado Avalanche defenceman Nick Holden of St. Albert keeps close tabs on Tanner Pearson of the Los Angeles Kings during a Sept. 20 exhibition game at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The former midget AAA Raider has two goals and one assist in eight games in his first season with Colorado.
    MICHAEL MARTIN-COLORADO AVALANCHE/Supplied photo
  • PRIDE OF ST. ALBERT - NHL defenceman Nick Holden talks to his mom Lynda prior to the City of St. Albert's Skating Wall of Fame ceremony in 2011 at Servus Credit Union Place. Holden was one of 22 hockey players to be honoured on the wall of fame.
    PRIDE OF ST. ALBERT - NHL defenceman Nick Holden talks to his mom Lynda prior to the City of St. Albert's Skating Wall of Fame ceremony in 2011 at Servus Credit Union Place. Holden was one of 22 hockey players to be honoured on the wall of fame.

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Rexall Place – Christmas came early for Nick Holden.

The St. Albert minor hockey alumnus unwrapped the second goal and third point of his NHL career in only his 15th game, and eighth with the Colorado Avalanche, in Thursday’s 8-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s exciting to be able to score in Edmonton in front of my family and all my buddies. It’s awesome,” Holden told the Gazette after the game. “But obviously it would’ve been a heck of a lot better if we would’ve won.”

Holden’s gift goal was a bank shot past Devan Dubnyk to put Colorado on the board at 3-1 at 4:20 in period two. It was initially credited to Nathan MacKinnon.

“I jumped up into the rush and yelled for the pass. I got a nice pass from (Matt) Duchene and I just tried hitting MacKinnon on the far side and luckily it went off their first D, second D and in,” said the 26-year-old defenceman. “At first I didn’t think I scored. I thought it went off McKinnon’s skate and in but right away he came over and said that’s your goal so I kind of knew it was going to get changed.”

Holden Nation was out in full force to witness the event.

“My mom (Lynda) got a box from a Ford dealership in St. Albert so I didn’t even have to get any tickets,” Holden said. “I definitely had lots of family and friends here. It was nice to have them come to the game and watch me play in the NHL, which has obviously been a dream since I was little.

“For them all to be here and to score a goal, and it was a lucky goal, in front of them is kind of a thrill.

“My grandma is here and she hasn’t seen me play since junior (with the Chilliwack Bruins), and my grandpa too, so it was awesome for that.”

The former midget AAA Raider had chills the night before the big game.

“Coming up here it was just excitement,” said Holden, who was even in plus/minus while logging 17:08 of ice time and was penalized for tripping in the second.

“It was nice to get in last night so I could go out to supper with my grandparents and my family and actually get some time to talk to them.”

Holden’s first point in 11 NHL games – seven with the Columbus Blue Jackets and four with Colorado – was the 4-1 game winner against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 10 in Denver.

“We just got scored on and we got some O-zone play going when (Gabriel) Landeskog made a great play. He went behind the net, cut back and then he was coming around the net and I just jumped inside the slot, called for it and he hit me and I went far side on Braden Holtby,” Holden said of the tie-breaker with 3:44 left in the second.

“To get that first goal is exciting. The NHL is the best hockey league in the world so to get a goal in the NHL is an amazing feeling.”

The St. Albert Catholic High School graduate signed with Columbus as a free agent in 2008 and two years later made his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks. He played 9:46 minutes and was plus one in the 3-1 win.

The six-foot-four, 207-pound Holden also spent five seasons in the American Hockey League with Columbus’ farm teams in Syracuse and Springfield. His best season was 2012/13 in Springfield as the team’s top defenceman with nine goals, 39 points and a plus-24 rating in 73 games.

On July 5 the former Chilliwack captain – he led all Western Hockey League defencemen in goals (22) and finished third in points (60) in his final season – signed a two-year contract with Colorado as an unrestricted free agent. He was a healthy scratch for the first 11 games of the season before making his Colorado debut against the Dallas Stars, 3-2 overtime win Nov. 1 in the Lone Star State, while filling for injured forward Jamie McGinn on the wing.

Holden’s first NHL assist was on Ryan O’Reilly’s goal against the St. Louis Blues, 7-3 road loss Nov. 14.

Five days later he had a season-high six hits and was plus two in the 5-1 win against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at home.

“Coming out of camp this year I knew that I was going to be a seventh, eighth defenceman so I just practiced hard and did everything that Patrick (Roy, the team’s head coach) was telling me,” said one of the inaugural 24 inductees into the City of St. Albert’s Skating Wall of Fame in 2011.

“This was only my eighth game but I know what my role is. I’ve got to be ready to play every once in a while and help the team when I get in.”


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