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Nelson's Dryden Hunt nets first NHL goal

Dryden Hunt screamed with joy after scoring his first NHL goal Sunday night against the Detroit Red Wings. — Photo courtesy Florida Panthers

Nelson Minor Hockey grad Dryden Hunt scored his first NHL goal Sunday during a 6-1 Florida Panthers rout of the Detroit Red Wings at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Hunt, who played minor hockey in the Heritage City before leaving to follow his dreams, took a cross-crease pass from Riley Sheahan and buried the puck past Wings netminder Jimmy Howard.

"It's about time, I guess," said Hunt, recalled from Springfield on Feb. 25, said on the Florida Panthers website. "I've had a couple pretty good chances as of late. I missed that one in the second period, and then such a good pass from Sheahan [on the goal]. It felt really good."

Hunt, who skated in 11 games with Florida last season, told reporters following the game he was happy to share the spotlight with teammate Josh Brown, who also scored for the first time.

"It's kind of ironic that we both got it in the same game," Hunt said. "He's such a good friend of mine. To see him get it and then follow it up with mine, it's a pretty special night."

The Florida Panthers left-winger wasn't drafted by an NHL team, but signed with the Florida Panthers on March 2, 2016, shortly before completing his final season of junior hockey with 116 points (58 goals, 58 assists) for Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League.

During his final junior year, Hunt, the son of Carla DeBiasio and Jeff Hunt, earnedWHL player of the year honors.

He played 70 games for Springfield of the American Hockey League in 2016-17, finishing his first pro season with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists). He returned to Springfield to start the 2017-18 season but was called up by the Panthers and made his NHL debut against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 10, 2017. Hunt played 11 games before being returned to Springfield and earned his first NHL point, an assist on Jared McCann's game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils 17 days later.

— With files courtesy Florida Panthers Hockey Club