Walker Duehr’s First NHL Goal Sparks Flames in Big Win Over Blues
The Calgary Flames got a big 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues thanks to a late scoring burst inspired by Walker Duehr, who netted his first NHL goal in the contest.
The goal was a big one for so many reasons. The Calgary Flames needed it for a spark in a scoreless game they needed to win. Walker Duehr wanted it maybe more than anything.
In front of two handfuls of his closest family members, Duehr scored his first NHL goal in the second period of a 4-1 Flames win over the Blues in St. Louis.
A magical moment he’ll never forget, even if he can’t remember the moments after seeing it go in.
“I think I blacked out,” the 25-year-old prospect told reporters post-game after calling it a dream come true earlier on the Sportsnet broadcast. “Pretty cool feeling.
“I don’t know if I got my legs taken out or I just fell after.”
Duehr was rocked after his release by Blues defenceman Calle Rosen, who was too late to make a play on the puck because of Duehr’s quick release.
He had Nazem Kadri’s pass on his stick for a split second before placing it perfectly into a gap on goalie Thomas Greiss’s blocker side.
“Naz made a great play to get it over to me,” Duehr said. “Just tried to get it off quick. Luckily it went in.”
There wasn’t much luck involved but it took two fantastic passes to get to the rookie in the third NHL contest in two seasons. Kadri’s setup was on the stick on a two-on-one rush. To get the rubber to Kadri, Trevor Lewis made a short-distance backhand saucer pass that had to be close to perfect.
The celebration was for much more than the hockey plays, though. Duehr has overcome long odds to be in a position to score in the world’s best hockey league.
“It’s good for the young man from South Dakota,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said with a big nod.
Sportsnet’s Eric Francis added, “one of the best ever from South Dakota,” setting the coach up for the punchline.
“It’s the only one,” Sutter said, drawing laughter.
“I think … Isn’t it?”
Yes, Duehr is the first NHLer born in The Mount Rushmore State.
His face will never be on the historic mountain sculpture, but Duehr has done something relatively rare by scoring in the NHL. Not every player in the league gets one.
“Everybody always remembers their first one. He will, for sure,” Sutter said. “It’s awesome. That’s a kid who wasn’t drafted. Comes up the hard way. Spends four years in school, starts in the American league, where everyone should.”
After four years at Minnesota State, the Flames signed him and sent him to the AHL’s Stockton Heat for a handful of games in 2021.
Last season, he played his first NHL game in Ottawa, but his family couldn’t attend because of all the pandemic restrictions at the time.
He had 11 goals and 23 points in 59 games in his first pro season, and has been a threat for the Calgary Wranglers this year with 10 goals and 16 points in just his first 31 games. Duehr is big, quick and tenacious. A Sutter-type player for sure.
He had some chances earlier in the game, and in the first contest in St. Louis on Tuesday, before his big moment.
Big for him, obviously, but also huge for his team.
“It gave us some life,” said Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube, who scored the winner and an empty netter in a third-period outburst inspired by Duehr. “Such a good guy. He has some family so that’s special. You could see the grin on his face.
“I’ve trained with him quite a while, know him really well. I’m pretty happy for him. It’s special for sure.
“Great shot. It’s a beautiful first goal.”
One he won’t forget. He won’t forget all the work it took to get there, either. From him, and his family who’ve supported him along the way.
“A lot of hours just putting in hard work and just kind of believing in myself,” Duehr said, listing his parents, billet parents, fiancé and her brother, his brother and wife, and his fiancé’s parents as attendees for the memorable evening.
“Credit to those guys as well. A lot of support. I wouldn’t be in this spot without those guys.”