Twenty-four seconds into Saturday's season opener, White Bear Lake senior Michael Johnson scored the game-winning goal on a perfectly set-up one-timer.
Teddy bears, which his father Tom Johnson had ordered long before, flew onto the ice – a White Bear Lake tradition after the first goal of the season, Minnesota Hockey Magazine says.
But it was more than just a season-opening goal.
Michael's father Tom, a dedicated hockey dad, had died just the day before after a six-month battle with kidney cancer, according to his obituary.
Michael took the ice Saturday to honor him, while also fighting mononucleosis. And 24 seconds in, he scored.
Watch Michael Johnson's emotional goal, and listen to Zach Halverson's reaction as he does the play-by-play:
That was his only shift of the game. He didn't have the energy to continue.
"It helps me know everything is going to be OK," Michael Johnson told FOX 9.
"There wasn't a dry eye in the house," family friend Jon Anderson told Minnesota Hockey Magazine.
“I just thought, Tom really is here,” Michael Johnson's mother, Angie Johnson, told the magazine, while holing back tears. “I think the kids will always feel his presence, even though he might not be here on earth. It will be a memory we won’t ever forget.”
White Bear Lake went on to beat Park High School, 6-0, The Horn reports. The team is dedicating the rest of the season to Tom Johnson, FOX 9 says.
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