Warren Peters spent most of six seasons in the minors waiting for the moment that occurred on March 3, 2009.
That's when he scored his first NHL goal during his first promotion to the big league. Peters' tally tied the game for his Calgary Flames, who went on to beat Ottawa 6-3 in a night full of milestones.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored the 400th goal of his career three minutes after Peters scored his first.
"That was a pretty big deal to share that moment with a player like (Iginla), who's an icon in Canada," Peters said.
But there was another memorable moment that Peters took from that game – it was his first time playing on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
"I remember that being the biggest deal. Hockey Night in Canada was something you grew up watching," he said. "Later in the season we were in Toronto, I got into a bit of a scrap and made it onto Coach's Corner (hosted by Don Cherry). That was another dream that you have as a child that came true."
Aside from the chance to play a game broadcast across Canada, the Saskatoon native looks back at his first goal and recalls something else.
It was the first time he felt he belonged with the big club.
"I felt like I was a part of it and I ended up spending most of the remainder of the year with them," Peters said. "There were a few nights where I felt I fit, and that was one of them."
Three seasons, four clubs and 96 NHL games later, Peters is again looking to be a part of something as he embarks on his first season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Only this time he isn't a 27-year-old rookie breaking into the NHL, he's a veteran with nine pro seasons under his belt and a firm understanding of the sacrifices it takes just to get a break.
Peters, who wasn't drafted, spent the first two years of his pro career bouncing between the East Coast Hockey League and the American Hockey League. He went on to play four more AHL seasons before getting an NHL look, and since then has spent the last three seasons splitting time with AHL and NHL clubs.
Along the way he spent time with some of the NHL's respected leaders, and combined their lessons with his own hard work to become a leader himself.
"There's been a lot of players I looked up to as leaders. One guy in particular in Dallas, (Brenden Morrow) was great, as was Rhett Warrener in Calgary," Peters said. "There are many, but the one that really comes to mind is Dany Heatley (in Minnesota). I can't say enough good things about my time with him last year."
Specifically, Peters was impressed with the way Heatley welcomed the new players to the team, made them feel comfortable and, like Peters experienced with his first NHL goal, made them feel like a part of things.
It's a quality that Peters, 30, hopes to bring to all of his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teammates.
"It's about how you treat the guys who maybe aren't in a comfortable position, aren't secure with their job and are wondering if they'll be here another day," Peters said. "You see too often where there isn't enough respect for those guys who are in a tough situation. I've been there in the NHL and I know how it feels."
It's that type of character that has coach John Hynes counting on Peters to be a leader and maybe even team captain.
"He's all character," Hynes said. "He played in every pro league to get to the NHL, and he's definitely the type of guy we want our young players to learn from."
Peters served as captain for two seasons with the Quad City Flames. He's happy to lead, but he doesn't necessarily need the C on his jersey to do it. Leadership is something that has to be provided by multiple players in the team, Peters said.
"To have a C on my jersey would be an honor, but I don't know if I need to be considered the captain of a hockey club in order to help lead it," he said. "I feel I can show the way in a lot of different manners."
As can many of his other veteran teammates, Peters said.
"There's a misperception that just because you're the captain that you automatically are the guy the rest of your teammates will follow," he said. "That's not always the case. It's more the characteristics you provide as a fellow player that inspire guys to follow you and appreciate the sacrifices you make."
This season's Penguins roster is filled with veterans who have paid their dues. Players such as Philippe Dupuis, Benn Ferriero, Trevor Smith, Eric Tangradi, and Dylan Reese, who all have NHL time under their belts. And then there's Riley Holzapfel, Zach Sill, Robert Bortuzzo, Joey Mormina and Brian Strait who have logged multiple seasons in the AHL waiting for a full-time NHL chance.
"We have numerous guys that can fill the role of captain, and we have a good supporting cast that can help that guy lead this team," Peters said. "That's more important."