Bobby Ryan’s ‘puppy goal’ made headlines after the Ottawa Senators winger notched a goal to earn a young fan a furry friend during a Jan. 24 game against the New York Rangers, but the puppy craze for young fans didn’t end with Ryan.
Two days later, nine-year-old Maddie Wright, a Blue Jackets fan whose favorite player is Cam Atkinson, celebrated her birthday at Nationwide Arena taking in Columbus’ game against the Montreal Canadiens. But she came to the game having made a deal with her father, Brian: if Atkinson scored, Maddie got a dog.
Atkinson scored. And then he scored again. With 25 seconds left in the game, Atkinson completed the hat trick in a 5-2 Blue Jackets win. Three goals didn’t mean three dogs, though, but Wright wasn’t complaining. After his three-goal game netted Wright the puppy, Atkinson finally got to meet Cam, a black lab mix, along with the entire Wright family.
“We have a couple of labs back home,” Atkinson told BlueJackets.com’s Katie Foglia. “I think it’s even better that it’s a rescue dog as well, and she found a great family and she’s enjoying it.”
Atkinson had helped the Wright’s get set up with the dog, according to the Blue Jackets, and paid for the adoption. Atkinson made his love for four-legged friends clear, too, spending time playing with Cam while showing the Wright family around Nationwide Arena.
“I feel like with dogs, you come home and they’re your best friend,” Atkinson said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’re having, if you’re having a bad day or good day, they’re always there to greet you with a smile and always make your day better.”
But even in winning a bet to earn the Wrights a dog, maybe Atkinson should be thanking young Maddie just as much. Since his puppy-winning goal, Atkinson has lit the lamp five more times and he has 10 points in his past eight games. He’s only one goal shy of reaching 20 for the third straight season, too. And his current hot streak began Jan. 25. Coincidence? We think not.