History made as Vegas product Quinney makes NHL debut for Golden Knights
Jason Zucker was born in California, raised in Las Vegas, and currently plays in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Once the Vegas Golden Knights came into the league in 2017, many wondered how long it would be until a Las Vegas native would play for his hometown team.
That question was answered on Feb. 22 when forward Gage Quinney suited up for the Golden Knights in a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Quinney also became the first Nevada-born player to take the ice in an NHL contest.
“I didn’t nap (that day),” the 24-year-old Quinney said. “The heart was really racing. By the time the puck dropped, it’s just another hockey game. I think I was able to settle in. Seeing all the fans and photos everywhere and the jerseys. Just to know that Vegas is a hockey town now and that I was able to represent them.”
The next day, Quinney picked up his first NHL point, assisting on Patrick Brown’s opening goal in a 6-5 overtime win on the road over the Anaheim Ducks.
Quinney attended West Career and Technical Academy before he moved to Phoenix when he was 15 to play for the Jr. Coyotes AAA program.
“Yeah, I don’t know how many parents helped with the five-hour car rides to California and Arizona every weekend,” Quinney said. “I’m just really thankful that I had supportive parents.”
He then spent three seasons playing Major Junior hockey in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers, skating in 182 games from 2013-16 and recording 119 points on 53 goals and 66 assists. Quinney won a WHL championship with Kelowna in 2015.
Undrafted, Quinney played the 2016-17 season in the ECHL for the Wheeling Nailers and then moved up to the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2017-18. Prior to the 2018-19 season, he signed a two-year contract with the Golden Knights.
“Growing up, people would laugh if you said you played hockey in Vegas, and now it’s a hockey hotbed,” said Quinney. “Everybody wants to come here and play. It’s just exciting to see the growth and I want to keep seeing what happens.”
In the Florida game, Quinney had almost 10 minutes of ice time. He was called up Feb. 21 from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, where he had been playing in his second season, and then sent back down to Chicago on Feb. 23.
“It’s just exciting,” said Quinney. “I’m feeling just happiness. I still don’t have words to describe it, but to be able to put this jersey on and play in front of the hometown was really exciting. It took me a couple of shifts to realize that it’s just another hockey game at the end of the day. Obviously, circumstances are different, but it’s just another game.”
Quinney’s father Ken, a Quebec Nordiques draft pick in the 1984 NHL Draft, played for the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder from 1993-98, collecting 413 points (189 goals, 224 assists) in 376 games when the club played at the Thomas and Mack Center. He also saw action in 59 NHL games with the Nordiques, registering seven goals and 20 points.
“Playing in your hometown, where you grew up, with the Golden Knights and how popular they are and how fantastic of a first couple years they’ve had and everything, it makes me so proud of him and it’s got to be a dream for him,” Ken Quinney told the Las Vegas Sun. “I know being born in Nevada and having that chance to play for a pro team that I never thought would probably ever happen, I’m proud of him and nervous.
“I think it was a good first game and hopefully, he just keeps getting stronger.”
Photo/Vegas Golden Knights
— Matt Mackinder
(April 1, 2020)