When someone is a young hockey player, he or she probably dreams about scoring goals in the National Hockey League.
For some, this dream, although admirable, is not in their life plan. For others, however, it is a dream that is within their grasp and all they have to do is put in the effort.
This was the case for New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson. When he was a youngster growing up in North York, Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, did everything he could to perfect the art of scoring goals.
“It came from a love of scoring goals,” Moulson says. “When I was young, I used to shoot for hours on end in my basement aiming at targets until I got blisters.”
The back of the net has certainly become a familiar place for Moulson in his last three seasons on Long Island. Moulson, 29, has scored 97 goals over that span and he has done it the hard way.
“All my goals are garbage goals,” Moulson admitted. “I do not care how they go in as long as it goes in.”
When speaking with Matt, it’s easy to hear the pride and excitement in his voice when it comes to lighting the lamp.
“It might be hard to believe, but I get just as excited when I score a goal in practice,” Moulson says. “Whether I do it in ball hockey, ice hockey, in games or in practice, scoring goals has always been a big thrill to me.”
Moulson’s biggest goal-scoring thrill came when he got his first NHL marker. It came when was a member of the Los Angeles Kings against then San Jose Sharks netminder and now current Islanders masked man Evgeni Nabokov.
“It was pretty awesome, as I scored my first goal in my first game,” Moulson says. “It was the biggest smile I ever had.”
Over the last three seasons, Moulson has experienced that goal-scoring thrill many times over. He has not been able to do it all on his own, however.
“My teammate and linemate John Tavares has played a big role in me putting the puck in the net,” Moulson admits. “John and I have known each other for a long time, have good chemistry on the ice together and enjoy being able to help each other succeed.”
With that said, it has not always been easy for Moulson. Prior to getting a full-time NHL gig, Moulson bounced around between the Los Angeles Kings and their farm team, the Manchester Monarchs.
During that time, Moulson struggled with his game and his confidence. That all changed after he had a conversation with Tampa Bay Lightning all-star forward Martin St. Louis when they worked out together in Darien, Conn.
“Marty told me about the struggles he went through with the Calgary Flames’ organization before becoming a member of the Lightning,” Moulson remembers. “He told me to go with the mindset that I was playing in the AHL because while playing in that league I had a lot of success.”
For Moulson, his mindset and effort has taken him a long way. Still, he knows things will not always be easy and that when things get tough, you have to find other ways to be successful.
“Sometimes, even when you are doing all the right things, the puck just will not go in the net,” Moulson explains. “When that happens, I do whatever else I can to contribute and help the team win hockey games.”
Like everything else in life, scoring goals requires more than just skill, and that is something that Moulson has learned over his last few seasons and has used the lesson to his advantage.
“As I have gotten older, I realized that the best thing to do is stay patient and not get frustrated when things do not go your way,” Moulson says. “If you keep working hard and doing the right things, the puck will end up in the net somehow.”