Ex-Gopher Fasching scores in first period of NHL debut

Buffalo Sabres right wing and ex-Gopher Hudson Fasching celebrates his first career NHL goal.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Ex-Minnesota Gophers forward Hudson Fasching wasted no time in scoring his first NHL goal, and another Minnesota prospect joined in on the fun.

The 20-year-old scored his first goal 8:37 into his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres, charging to the net and sneaking the puck past the Winnipeg Jets goalie. Former Minnesota State University defenseman Casey Nelson assisted on the play.

The Sabres trailed 2-0 at the time and scored two third-period goals to defeat the Jets 3-2.

"It’s really exciting. It’s like a dream come true," Fasching said. "It’s been a whirlwind. I think that’s been the perfect word for me. It feels like yesterday I was at the University of Minnesota, and now I’m here."

The goal came just days after he and Nelson signed with the Sabres, who rank near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Last week, both players were skating for their respective college hockey teams.

Fasching earned second team All-Big Ten honors while setting career highs for points (38), goals (20) and assists (18) this past season. He helped the Gophers to a third consecutive Big Ten regular-season title, but the team lost to Michigan in the conference tournament.

The Burnsville, Minn., native finished his Minnesota career with 94 points (46 goals, 48 assists) and a plus-47 rating. He will graduate this spring with a degree in entrepreneurial management.

Nelson, 23, was a walk on at Minnesota State after three years in the North American Hockey League. He was the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year this season, recording six goals and 16 assists in 40 games, as Minnesota State won a share of the WCHA regular-season title.

The Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native finished his MSU career with 60 points on 14 goals and 46 assists in 99 games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.