By the time a player reaches the AHL or NHL, they have already achieved a lot in their careers and made plenty of memories along the way. Each week, we’ll sit down with one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and talk about some of the memorable “firsts” they’ve had during their careers, ranging from their first time on skates to their first goal as a pro.
Player: Paul Thompson
Birthplace: Derry, N.H.
Years pro: 3
First time on skates: “I was 3 or 4, and one of my first times I had a clear piece of tape stuck to my skate. I remember balling my eyes out and my parents came out and helped me because I couldn’t stand up. I think I just stepped on it by accident. I was too young for us to play a prank then.”
First team: “The Manchester Flames. I was 7 or 8. We had the Calgary colors — white and red and some gold.”
First coach that influenced you: “When I was young, it was Joe McCarran, my buddy’s dad. I played with his son. He made it to where we all wanted to play Division I hockey. He played a little pro, and he was a good guy to be around and a good family friend.”
First goal that you remember: “There was an outdoor rink growing up. it was a house league and I scored a goal when I was 6. I don’t remember the move.”
First time you won anything in hockey: “We won a state championship my squirt year with the Flames. I think we got a trophy. It’s still somewhere at home.”
First time hockey took you away from home: “I was in college and it was only 40 minutes from home. The first time I’ve been far away was when I got to Wilkes-Barre, which was six hours. I’ve been fortunate. I played juniors in New Hampshire and had my family around to see a lot of games.”
First pro contract: “It was awesome. It was a goal throughout college and you start to come to the realization it’s a possibility, but you still never know. It was nice when I signed with Pitt and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”
First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “In college. My second year, I was in and out of the lineup. It’s something you have to learn to deal with and focus on practice to work yourself back in.”
— Tom Venesky