CALGARY – Overwhelmed by the moment, Sherry Dowling fought back tears when asked to describe a mother's pride.
His 29-year-old son, Justin Dowling, had just scored a 10-year minor adventure, scoring his first NHL goal on the track he dreamed of.
No matter the fact that it was a prominent scam that stood out as the winner of the game, what mattered much more was the fact that it had emerged in front of three dozen adoring friends and family who had wanted it at this time for years.
"It was a long and difficult journey for him," said Sherry, whose eyes watered as his son emerged from the bowels of the arena to greet his proud followers in the stands afterwards.
"It's just amazing for him. That's it – that's why we all fought. Today, we had a group of ours and we put our hands in a circle and said 'mark, mark, mark', because we knew he would mark today. We visualized him in the back of the net And then … I lost.
At the beginning of the third period, as his son passed Cam Talbot and passed the record at a close angle, Sherry was at the contest grabbing a drink – a tale that will only add to the legendary family moment.
"I didn't know my mom was in the beer line when I scored my goal so she wouldn't even see him," laughed Dowling, whose decade-long minor journey includes two East Coast league stops and over 400 games on the circuit. American.
"I can hold it over her head."
Did you ruin the night of your storybook, which marked only the 34th NHL contest for the unprepared striker?
"No. That's why we have TV, highlights and everything, for her to finally see. Okay. I'm glad they're here," smiled the former Swift Current Broncos captain.
“I was born in Calgary and raised in Cochrane, 30 minutes. I came to many Flames games, many Hitmen games. I've been to this barn a lot. It is close to home. It is a dream come true, for sure. "
A dream that Sherry insists on never giving up.
“Absolutely – you see your child growing up and going through these things. You have to believe it, ”she said. “Doing it in his hometown is what we wanted for him. I've seen this new in replay now. It was beautiful. "
The same thing happened later, when the man of the hour shared endless hugs and handshakes with loved ones who posed for a group photo with him holding the holy disk.
"It was great," said Dowling, the Texas Stars captain last year, who spent Wednesday night's 3-1 win over Calgary playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
"I've had a lot of pucked calls on goal lines, reaching posts. I think my first game last year wasn't allowed. Long time coming, but it's good. Too much weight on my shoulders. Tons of relief, great time.
Tons of memories too.
"I mean, it took a long time, but it's good that it happened here. I think it was supposed to be, actually. It's great. Last year I could only play a period. I got hurt. I was feeling pretty good coming in." at that game last year. Having the opportunity to go back and play again this year and get my first one here means a lot. ”
For a while on Wednesday, it seemed as if the welfare story was written by Flames' little-used backup Cam Talbot, who was surprised to give David Rittich a working horse a week off.
Talbot was the only reason Flames fell just 1-0 after two seasons, clearing a 26-foot flood of red-hot Stars.
Unfortunately, despite the heroics of the popular teammate, Flames could not support the race in a game where they were tied 3-1 before Dowling finished the game in another way to put the visitors ahead. 2-0 six minutes to the third.
"I kind of got to the blue line and realized no one would catch me," said Dowling of the 2 on 1 he created.
“I usually do that (move) a lot in practice. I don't know if it's natural or just instinct to do that. Once I got to the blue line, I thought, "I need to try the same move," because I was successful in practice. I had no legs. I was nearing the end of the shift.
He scored his first time in four home games and Flames lost in regulation, giving Stars the eighth victory in the last 10.
Flames felt terrible about dropping Talbot's record to 1-4 despite another solid ride (29 defenders) that marked only his second match in three weeks.
"Personally, it hurts when he performs such a performance and makes so many important defenses and gives us a chance when we probably shouldn't have had a chance after two periods," said Matthew Tkachuk, whose team made it 2-1 mid-match, before Joe Pavelski's second night seals the net.
"He was our best player in some of the games he played. On a night like this all I wanted was to reward him. The rest of the guys felt the same way.
The Star room was full of people who understood the precious moment Dowling was enjoying.
"What a great experience, obviously," said Stars goalkeeper Ben Bishop, who made 24 saves.
“His first NHL goal in his hometown for the winner of the game. It doesn't get much better than that. I don't think you can improve as a kid … maybe if he was playing for the other team, but I'm glad he's on ours. We work on these 2 on 1 every day in practice and he does a great job and he deserved it. "