Historic, surreal NHL debut for Ferguson with Vegas Golden Knights
Dylan Ferguson made history on Sunday as the first goaltender to start and win a preseason game for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights but it wasn’t the 18-year-old’s first time stepping onto NHL ice.
Adding to the surreal feeling of backstopping the first game in Golden Knights history was the fact it came against the Vancouver Canucks, a team he led onto the ice for warm ups seven years ago.
“It’s really surreal to me,” Ferguson told InGoal Magazine after making 29 saves in a 9-4 win. “When I was 11 years old I skated the Canucks out on the ice as their sixth player. I got to lead the team on the ice and stand beside (Roberto) Luongo. So skating back on this ice and beating them is just a great feeling.”
Ferguson entered a draw for minor hockey players to lead the Canucks out for warm ups and the national anthems, something the team still does before every home game. Seven years later, he led the Golden Knights onto the ice in the first official NHL game for both him and the franchise.
“It’s crazy,” Ferguson said, shaking his head. “I was just really honored when they told me I was going to get the start tonight and I am really happy we came out with the win and made history tonight.”
Ferguson, who turns 19 on September 20, was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the seventh round (194th overall) this summer but just two days later he was traded to Vegas, along with a second round draft pick in 2020, in exchange for former Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Methot.
After pitching a 34-save, 4-0 shutout win against the Los Angeles Kings in a rookie game on Wednesday, he got the call for the Golden Knights preseason debut.
It wasn’t an easy start, either.
Ferguson, who will be the No.1 for the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League this season, faced a sloppy, penalty-filled game with enough wide-open chances it felt more like shinny than an NHL game.
After getting help from a couple cross bars on an early Canucks 5-on-3, Ferguson was beaten high glove by a couple great shots on partial breakaways by Brock Boeser and Jordan Subban. But he settled in among the breakdowns in front of him, stopping Jake Virtanen on a breakaway before Vegas broke the game open.
Vancouver’s last two goals came on 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power plays and Ferguson added a couple more breakaway saves before the final buzzer of a historic first win for the Golden Knights.
“It was awesome, it’s my first real NHL experience and the guys played outstanding in front of me tonight and I thank them for that,” said Ferguson, who had 15 friends and family in the stands Sunday.
As for any added pressure making his NHL debut in front of family and friends, against the team he grew up cheering, in the first ever game for the expansion Golden Knights, Ferguson wasn’t worried.
“I like pressure to tell you the truth,” he said. “I like being that guy that you go to under pressure.”