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Walker Duehr makes South Dakota history with first NHL goal

Walker Duehr holds the puck of his first career NHL goal
Calgary Flames
National Hockey League
Walker Duehr holds the puck of his first career NHL goal

Walker Duehr, a native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and an alum of Minnesota State-Mankato, scored his first career goal in the National Hockey League on Thursday night in a road game against the St. Louis Blues. Duehr becomes the first South Dakota born player to score a goal in the NHL.

With 4:36 to play in the second period, and the game still scoreless, Duehr had his moment.

“I think I blacked out, it was a pretty cool moment. It’s something you dream of, so it was pretty cool,” said Duehr after the contest. “It was a huge goal for the team, we were battling there, and then just lucky to get one there in the second, and then role from there for the team.”

The Flames went on to defeat the Blues 4-1, and improve to a 20-14-9 record on the season.

“It’s good for the young man from South Dakota,” chuckled Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter, who acknowledged he was the first from the state to do it. “That's awesome. Everybody always remember their first ones. He will, for sure."

Duehr was signed to an entry level deal with the Calgary Flames in April of 2021, just days after his college career came to an end with the Mavericks in the Frozen Four. After spending last season and part of this season with the Calgary Wranglers, the Flames AHL affiliate team, he received the call on January 7th, a week ago, to join the big club.

When asked about what this goal could mean for other aspiring South Dakotans who have dreams of playing in the NHL, Duehr gave some words of encouragement.

“I’m sure they see me doing it, probably puts the belief in their head, which it should,” Duehr said. “Anybody who puts their head down and goes to work can achieve pretty great things. So yeah, hopefully they can look at it and dream big.”

Family members, including his parents, fiancé, and his brother, from the Sioux Falls area were in attendance to see his first NHL goal in person.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.