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Calgary native Justin Dowling scores first career NHL goal in Stars win over Flames

November 14th, 2019 by Matthew DeFranks

CALGARY, Alberta — Justin Dowling found his family during warmup.

Before the Stars beat the Flames 3-1 to climb above .500 for the first time this season and before Dowling scored his first career NHL goal in his hometown, he spotted his family. They were in the corner of the lower bowl, where they always sit.

“I knew where they were sitting the whole time,” Dowling said. “I didn’t realize my mom was in the beer line when I scored my goal so she didn’t even see it.”

Dowling’s goal was as pretty as first goals can be, when he led a 2 on 1, kept the puck, dragged it past Flames goaltender Cam Talbot before stuffing in in the net. The goal gave the Stars a 2-0 lead, and turned out to be the game-winning goal.

“I kind of got to the blue line and realized no one was going to catch me,” Dowling said. “I tend to do that a lot in practice, I don’t know if it just comes natural. It’s just something, it’s like instincts almost to do that. As soon as I got to the blue line, I was like ‘I got to try and do that same move,’ because I’ve had success with it in practice.”

Goaltender Ben Bishop said: “We work on those 2 on 1s every day in practice. He’s done a great job. He deserves it.”

For Dowling, it’s been a long road to that moment.

He’s 29 years old, and in his ninth season of professional hockey. He played parts of seven seasons with Texas in the AHL, earning the role of captain last season. He entered Wednesday with 435 games played in the AHL, 60 in the ECHL and 33 in the NHL. Dowling was a scorer at lower levels, but not in the world’s best league.

“It’s been a long time coming, had a lot of close calls with pucks sitting on goallines, hitting posts,” Dowling said. “I think my first game last year, I had one disallowed. A long time coming, but it feels good. A lot of weight off my shoulders. … Tons of relief, big time.”

Dowling was born in Calgary and grew up in nearby Cochrane, 30 minutes northwest of downtown Calgary. He bought a house in Cochrane. He attended Flames and Hitmen (Calgary’s team in the WHL) games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He played there when he was in the WHL with Swift Current.

“It took a long time, but it’s nice that it happened here,” Dowling said. “I think it was meant to be actually.”

For the maybe the first time in his professional career, Dowling has a sense of stability, with his roster spot in Dallas a safe one for now, unlike past seasons where a call-up was the exception and not the rule. He now lives in an apartment in Dallas instead of a hotel. He and his wife Megan are expecting the couple’s first child, a baby girl, in March.

After the game, Dowling got to meet with a large group of family and friends, including his parents Glen and Sherry.

“It’s a dream come true for sure,” Dowling said.

New look line: Dowling centered a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on his wings, a lineup shakeup that resulted in the team’s two highest-paid players with an unfamiliar linemate.

Dowling scored, while Seguin had four shots on goal (five attempts) and Benn had two shots on goal (five attempts).

“That line was really good for us,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought Seggy and Jamie both had great looks from really dangerous scoring areas, inner-slot area. They kept possessing pucks

“I thought we played well today,” Dowling said. “I thought we had our chances. There was a couple plays there coming over the blue line on rush opportunities. I think we started to feel each other out a little more throughout the game.”

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