After 500 games in the minors, 32-year-old has his moment

San Jose Sharks forward Bracken Kearns is what some observers might refer to as a veteran of the hockey game. Several hundred games, as a matter of fact. The 32-year-old Kearns has played in 500 of them throughout his tenure with the American Hockey League.

Yet this career minor leaguer had never scored a goal in the National Hockey League — until this past Sunday night, when the Sharks took on the Anaheim Ducks. Kearns was playing in just his eighth regular-season game, and his goal off a rebound helped his team earn the win.

"It was amazing, absolutely amazing," the San Jose Mercury News quotes Kearns as saying. "It felt so good."

The injury-riddled Sharks had called up Kearns from Worcester — the Sharks’ AHL affiliate — the day before the game. Kearns subsequently became the oldest player in franchise history to score his first goal.

"It’s a great story, isn’t it?" Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It’s great for him, but there’s also a lesson in it about believing in yourself and persevering."

Maybe Kearns’ big night shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. He led Worcester in goals, assists and points last year, according to NESN. And Kearns played in all seven of the Sharks’ playoff games last spring vs. the Los Angeles Kings, the Mercury News notes.

"I owe it to this organization," Kearns told the paper. "They gave me an opportunity. I don’t know how many organizations out there would give a 32-year-old an opportunity like they gave me last year in the playoffs. You just keep working at it and setting your goals high. I’ve dreamt about scoring in the NHL since I was a kid, so it’s an amazing feeling."

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