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: Adam Payerl
Birthplace: Kitchener, Ontario
Years pro: 2
First time on skates: “I was 4 years old. My dad and I used to go to an outdoor rink in the winter. I remember he would put a glove in his back pocket and I’d chase him around the ice trying to grab it. I think I learned to skate fairly qucikly.”
First team: “A house league team in my hometown. We were called the Flyers and had orange jerseys. I got my first trophy that year. We lost in the finals but still got a trophy.”
First time you won anything in hockey: “That same year. I was 5 or 6. Taking that little plastic trophy home and putting it on my nightstand was a big deal. I still have it somewhere back hoome to this day.”
First coach that influenced you: “I started getting some good coaches when I was 10 or 11. One of my coaches when I was in atom was a good mentor to us. We had good practices and a good team.”
First goal that you remember: “The first one I remember is when I raised the puck. I was 6 or 7 years old, and I surprised myself that I got it off the ice. That was a big deal for a kid. When you’re younger you’re always trying to lift the puck off the ice, and I was really excited when I was able to do that.”
First time hockey took you away from home: “I was 16. My first year of major junior I played for Barrie. I went to camp not knowing if I would make the team, and I ended up making it a couple of days later. I signed my first contract and left the arena with my dad. All of a sudden I was living away from home. It was a big adjustment but it turned out well.”
First pro contract: “It was a huge deal. My last year at juniors two years ago. My dad and I went out for dinner after a game, and my agent came and brought the contract. We went over it at dinner and I signed it. It was a memorable night for me.”
First goal: “When I was with the Warriors and it was against Methuen — the town where Paul Thompson is from. It was a 4-4 game and I scored all four. I’m not getting those stats anymore, unfortunately.”
First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “It was my first year at major junior. My team made a trade at the deadline, picked up a couple of forwards and I was the odd man out. I had to sit out a couple games in a row. That was tough mentally to deal with. Looking back now, it makes you stronger and mentally you can push through those things. It keeps you positive.
“There’s adversity all the time in the pro game. You look back at something like that and it motivates you to keep playing hard all the time.”