PRAGUE — The elation used to be fast. The happiness. The delight. The aid, in all probability.
Tomas Hertl skated in the back of the purpose, his proper arm pumping and his face ablaze. He welcomed his teammates in for hugs, his face nakedly joyous. It used to be the purity of knowing his largest youth ambitions — ones, in truth, he would possibly no longer also have been daring sufficient to dream.
“It was a little crazy, but it was just a special moment, to score in front of my whole family and a lot of friends that probably used to see me when I was playing in Prague,” mentioned Hertl, who grew up in town and performed for Slavia Praha in O2 Arena from 2011-13. “It was a special moment. It would be a little better if we got the win, but I was really happy for that game.”
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The Sharks ahead punctuated his go back to Prague through scoring the only purpose for the San Jose Sharks in a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators at O2 Arena on Friday in the 2022 NHL Global Series, the kickoff to the 2022-23 season.
At 8:36 of the primary length, Hertl knocked the puck to the center of the ice, the place it were given stuck bouncing between Luke Kunin, Timo Meier and a passel of Predators. But the puck squibbed out to Hertl at the proper facet of the online the place, with one stroke, he buried it slightly below the crossbar. The ranking used to be tied, with the Predators having taken the lead on a Kiefer Sherwood purpose 1:01 into the primary length.
“It was a pretty special moment, obviously,” Sharks trainer David Quinn mentioned. “I’m sure he’s been thinking about that for a long time.”
Video: SJS@NSH: Hertl locates the free puck and ratings
This used to be his rink, a spot the place, in his phrases, a “baby-faced” Hertl as soon as dreamed large. He sat in those locker rooms, walked down those streets, skated in this ice, scored in those objectives. This used to be his house, a spot to introduce to the teammates who were not at his marriage ceremony a couple of years in the past, the teammates who he sees so ceaselessly play close to their very own hometowns.
The stands have been stuffed with his folks, 35 of them getting a possibility to observe him, to observe him all in combination. His brother used to be there and his oldsters, his spouse and almost-2-year-old Tobias, his nephew and his grandmother. They have observed him play for the Sharks ahead of, in ones and twos, dribs and drabs, however no longer this full-throated segment of affection and give a boost to, no longer in individual, no longer like this.
And when the purpose through Hertl used to be introduced, the identify of their very own echoing, they screamed. They serenaded him with a “Hertl” chant, a hug from the nosebleeds to the glass.
“It was a great moment,” he mentioned. “I remember because it’s kind of how it works in Europe. So I remember the time when I was playing for Slavia Praha when you score, they would all yell your name. It was really special, and I really enjoyed it. I was so pumped.”
He just about were given some other one, a puck proper at the tape that hit the crossbar with 2:27 ultimate in the primary length.
That would have despatched him to the stratosphere, a remake of previous in the week when Nashville captain Roman Josi scored two times in his personal homecoming in opposition to SC Bern in a preseason recreation on Monday.
“I know this game meant a lot,” Sharks captain Logan Couture mentioned. “I think he was pretty excited for this one. Would have loved to win that game for him, but happy he was able to put it in the back of the net.”
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There have been a couple of moments, a couple of hints that Hertl had dropped to Couture to let him know the sentiments churning within him. But there used to be additionally a lifeless giveaway, the surest conceivable signal that Hertl is worked up about one thing.
“When Tommy Hertl gets excited, he talks really fast,” Sharks ahead Nick Bonino mentioned. “He was talking extra fast this week.”
That pleasure have been obvious from the primary moments Friday, when his identify used to be introduced to cheers, when his face gave the impression at the JumboTron, mouthing alongside to the phrases of the Czech nationwide anthem. It used to be the primary time he had achieved so in seven years, because the World Championships have been performed in Prague in 2015.
He used to be simply 21 then. He is 28 now, and a full-fledged famous person in the NHL.
“I’m proud to be Czech,” Hertl mentioned. “I saw all my family because they were under the flag, and it was just a special moment. They can be here, all with me, my parents and son and wife. It was just incredible.”