Ryan Poehling's college career didn't end the way he'd hope as St. Cloud State was upset in the NCAA Tournament, but his NHL career started Saturday night with one of the best debut performances in league history.
Poehling scored a goal in the first, second and third periods, and then notched the game-winning goal in a shootout to give the Montreal Canadiens.
"I just tried to go out there and play my game and do the right things. Sometimes, you just get rewarded for them and games go like that. It's a surreal moment for myself. It feels like a dream," said Poehling, via NHL.com. "I don't even know what to say. I'm just in shock right now."
The 20-year-old former Lakeville North state champion is just the third player since 2010 to record a hat trick in his first NHL game, joining Auston Matthews (2016) and Derek Stepan (2010).
Where does Poehling's historic start rank among the best debuts in league history? It's debatable since plenty of goalies have started careers with shutouts, but he's just the fifth player ever to have a hat trick in his first game.
- Auston Matthews: 4 goals, Oct. 12, 2016
- Alex Smart, Canadiens: 3 goals, Jan. 14, 1943
- Real Cloutier, Nordiques: 3 goals, Oct. 10, 1979
- Fabian Brunnstrom, Stars: Oct. 15, 2008
Alexander Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored a pair of goals in their NHL debuts, and The Great One Wayne Gretzy had just one assist in his first game.
An incredible debut doesn't guarantee long-term success, but Poehling is certainly off to an amazing start.