It was a long hard road to the NHL for Joey Hishon; one full of plenty of speed bumps, delays and uncertainty. Now, the 22-year-old forward finally has his destination in sight. Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy announced Wednesday that Hishon will draw into the lineup for game four of the Avs’ opening round series against the Minnesota Wild.
"I can't even explain the emotion,” said Hishon. “Very anxious, very excited."
On the cusp of his NHL debut, Hishon has officially put his difficult journey in the rearview mirror.
The season after being selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (a draft which saw his stock fall due to injury) saw Hishon lead the OHL in points per game, only to have his season end when his team needed him the most: During the Memorial Cup.
Playing for the Owen Sound Attack, Hishon was knocked out of the first game of the Memorial Cup by a vicious hit to the head delivered by Brayden McNabb (currently a prospect for the Los Angeles Kings). That hit occurred on May 21, 2011. Suffering from post concussion syndrome, Hishon would not play again until March 19, 2013, when he suited up for the Lake Erie Monsters.
Plagued with some minor injuries with the Monsters this season, they assuredly pale in comparison to what he has already endured in his young career. In spite of all of this, Hishon managed a decent season in Lake Erie, amassing 24 points in 50 games.
Now, Hishon will play his first NHL game on the biggest of stages: The Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"You don't always pick the right time to start," said Roy. "If it happens, it happens. This is an opportunity for him. Joey's dream is to play in the NHL one day. Here it is."
Replacing Paul Carey, Hishon will center the Avs’ fourth line; with Patrick Bordeleau and Brad Malone flanking him. He is also expected to see time on the Avalanche’s second powerplay unit, joining his childhood friend: Ryan O’Reilly. The Avalanche were 0-for-4 with the man advantage during their game three loss.
With the home team holding serve thus far, the Avs currently are up two games to one in the series. After playing their second consecutive game in St. Paul, Minn., the Avalanche will return to Denver for game five on Saturday. The puck is scheduled to drop Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. MT.