Lerg, 29, scores game-winner in long-awaited NHL debut

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To say Bryan Lerg took the long road to the NHL would be an understatement. Undrafted, Lerg spent four years playing for Michigan State University before turning pro and spending parts of eight seasons in the minors. Lerg finally made his NHL debut on Thursday at the age of 29 and he made it a memorable one.

With San Jose and Edmonton locked in a 1-1 tie in the final minutes of the third period, Lerg beat Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit to score what proved to be the Sharks’ game-winning marker:

“I just jumped in the rush there with Cooch, and I saw Cooch just give me a little eye there,” Lerg said, per CSN Bay Area. “I knew he was going to dish it over. I just tried to make sure I put it up top.”

Then the puck went in and after all these years of fighting for a chance to do exactly that, he “blacked out for a little bit” when he saw it finally happen.

“A lot of obstacles and hurdles I had to overcome. Just had to stick with it, stay positive. A lot of it is mental,” said Lerg. “It was a lot of fun tonight and I’m never going to forget it.”

For San Jose, which saw its streak of 10 straight postseason berths officially come to an end on Monday, a story like this helps keep things positive for the players. It’s also, as Sharks coach Todd McLellan put it, an example of the potential rewards that can come with persevere and pursuing your dreams.