Islanders center Aatu Raty buries first career goal in ‘surreal’ NHL debut
It was a "surreal" day for Islanders top prospect Aatu Raty.
The 20-year-old found out earlier this morning that he was being called up to the big-league team to replace the injured Casey Cizikas in the lineup. He was slated to take the ice with AHL Bridgeport against Hartford, until coach Brent Thompson told him he’s got other plans.
“This morning in Bridgeport we didn’t have a morning skate, I was supposed to play in Hartford. But I was in the sauna and I heard the guys say coach wants to see you and I thought it was a prank. But this time luckily I went there and coach Thompson told me I’m getting called up.”
Wearing his number 16 jersey, alongside fellow rookie Parker Wotherspoon, Raty took his rookie lap at the beginning of warmups. He was originally slotted in on the fourth line alongside Matt Martin and Hudson Fasching.
It wasn’t until the third period that Raty really made his presence felt. Seven minutes and ten seconds into the final frame, the youngster deked around the defender and ripped a wicked wrist shot past Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot to give the Isles a 3-1 lead.
Raty told reporters following the 5-1 win he "almost blacked out" at the time, but it felt "great" to get that elusive first career goal out of the way so quick.
“Obviously I was happy with the goal getting us up 3-1. But getting back to the bench and looking up at the Jumbotron, I didn’t even realize I made a move there, I just thought I got the puck and shot it. So I felt like I almost blacked out. It felt great.”
Head coach Lane Lambert said postgame that he was really impressed with the performance from the youngster on both ends of the ice, but particularly in the defensive zone.
“I thought he was really good. You can see, as I said before the game, he played on both sides of the puck. I thought defensively he was sound, he stays on people and understands angles and things like that. I thought he was good,” Lambert said.
As for Raty himself, he said the whole day was just so special and surreal.
“This whole day has felt so surreal. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I can remember. It was just so special, especially in a game like this and having such a big crowd and getting the win.”