Brandon Hagel was asked by a reporter after the team's optional skate on Tuesday whether or not he's thought about what that first career NHL goal will feel like and when it may come. He admitted it "crosses my mind" but downplayed just how much.
Well, Hagel no longer has to answer questions about it and can breathe a sigh of relief after breaking through hours later in a 6-5 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets when he buried a pass from a future Hall of Famer in Patrick Kane to put the Blackhawks ahead 3-2 in the second period.
"There are really no words to describe this," Hagel said. "Dream come true, I’ve dreamt of this my whole life. No better feeling than getting a pass from a legend, as well."
Kane was seemingly just as excited for Hagel.
"I was really happy for him," Kane said. "He’s been around the net, he’s had a lot of chances, and nice to see him put one in. He shot that one pretty hard, like he wanted to put it through the net. I’m sure he wanted to get that one off his back."
Hagel went 17 straight games without a goal and was seemingly snakebitten prior to Tuesday, considering the number of scoring chances he's generated this season. He's been noticeable in practically every game.
Hagel could realistically have four or five goals right now, but you could tell the drought never weighed on him. He handled it like a pro, and he said as much before the game.
"I’m trying to state myself as a full NHL player, so that’s not one of the things that I’m too focused on," Hagel said. "It’s about bringing it every single night and just try to be the best player and proving that I belong here every single night. I know the goals will follow. I’ve done it before, it’s not something I’m really worried about. I know I can produce at this level. It may not have happened yet, but I’m sure it will."
It finally did on Tuesday night and Hagel made no mistake by scoring on a wide-open net. It was a gift that even he knew he couldn't have messed up.
"I couldn’t have missed that one," Hagel said with a smile. "If I would've missed that one, I'm not sure what I would’ve done, maybe just played without my stick. But yeah, I had tons of opportunities and finally ended up getting one in the back of the net. No better feeling."