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Gomez, Scott: 1979—: Professional Hockey Player

Scott Gomez: 1979: Professional hockey player


Scott Gomez, the first Hispanic in the National Hockey League (NHL), may well turn out to be one of the greatest success stories in professional hockey. Certainly, he has proven himself to be a fast-rising star. A center and winger player on the New Jersey Devils, Gomez came out flying after his 1998 draft, with an impressive 70 points his first year. His second year on the team garnered him an additional 63 points. Ready for challenge, he told Center Ice, the Devils' official magazine, at the start of his third season, "The only goal I have right now is that I've got to do better than last year. I want this to be my best year ever."

Gomez was born on December 23, 1979, the son of Carlos, a Mexican construction worker who was himself born to migrant farm workers, and Dalia, a Columbian housewife. He and siblings Monica and Natalie grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Gomez, nicknamed "Gomer," was the first Alaskan-born player in the NHL.

Gomez began playing hockey at the tender age of five. He developed his skills and abilities very early. In high school, he was a stand-out player, and after graduation, Gomez traveled to British Columbia to join the South Surrey Eagles junior team. Rather than attend college on scholarship the following year, Gomez went on to play for the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League (WHL).

In 1998, when he was just 18 years old, Gomez was drafted in the first round by the New Jersey Devils. He was the second pick for New Jersey and the 27th pick in the NHL. After attending the 1998 training camp, however, Gomez returned to the WHL team for another year of experience, returning to the Devils for the 1999 training and season. Gomez's first year in the NHL was a fantastic achievement. His first game was played on October 2, 1999, against the Atlanta Thrashers. Gomez played in all 82 regular-season games for the Devils that year. Not only did he score 70 points during the season, he garnered many awards and considerable recognition.

Gomez's 27 power plays and 51 assists put him ahead of that year's other rookies. It was only his second month on the team when Gomez was named Rookie of the Month. Later, he was the only North American rookie named to the All-Star team. He also won the Calder Trophy, which is given for the honor of Rookie of the Year. Gomez and the New Jersey Devils finished the 1999-2000 season by winning the NHL championship Stanley Cup. With characteristic humility, Gomez remarked to Center Ice, "I didn't expect anything coming into last season, but it turned out pretty good."

At a Glance . . .


Born December 23, 1979, in Anchorage, Alaska; son of Carlos and Dalia Gomez.


Career : South Surrey Eagles, British Columbia Junior Hockey League, 1996-97; Tri-City Americans, Western Hockey League, 1997-99; New Jersey Devils, National Hockey League, 1999.


Awards: Alaska High School Hockey Player of the Year; Calder Trophy, National Hockey League; Prince of Wales Trophy, with the Devils; Stanley Cup, with the Devils; Rookie of the Year; Top 25 Most Powerful Alaskans, Alaska Journal of Commerce.


Address: New Jersey Devils, 50 Rt 120 North, Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ, 07073.




His humility, combined with his obvious skill and ability, have made Gomez a favorite among hockey fansespecially with the hometown crowd in Alaska, who are proud to claim him as one of their own. Unanimously selected for the Alaska Journal of Commerce 's Top 25 Most Powerful Alaskans, Gomez garnered the award due largely to his impact on the young people of Alaska. "No matter how you judge power," one selection committee member told the Alaska Journal of Commerce, "you have to admit Scott Gomez has it when it comes to our young people."

Even in his younger years, Gomez would stand up for the underdog, not allowing his friends to taunt or deride other students. He has donated money and his collectible jerseys to diverse charity groups and other organizations. A partial list reveals his penchant for the children and for families: La Leche League, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Children's Miracle Network, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Gomez, thanks to first-hand experience, was aware of the financial struggle undergone by families whose children play hockey at the competitive level. So he has also made donations to the families of young hockey hopefuls.

Gomez has also run hockey clinics for children and volunteered in the Alaskan community. Gomez and his father have opened a store in Alaska devoted to serving Gomez's many fans. He was named to People Magazine 's list of top 50 bachelors, and in the summer of 2000, Gomez appeared on the television soap opera One Life to Live.


In his second season with the Devils, Gomez scored 14 goals, had 49 assists, and amassed a total of 63 points. The team went on to win the Prince of Wales Trophy for that year, but lost out on a subsequent win for the Stanley Cup in the finals. Before going into his third season with the Devils, Gomez took a hockey-free vacation. "I think when you do too much or try too hard, you can overload and kind of lose your focus," Gomez told Center Ice. When he returned for the 2001-2002 season, Gomez was up for the challenge of improving on his first two seasons. He told Center Ice, "I think I'm more patient, especially on defense, and I know how to rely on my teammates more."


Sources

Alaska Journal of Commerce, www.alaskajournal.com/top25/gomez.shtml

Biography Resource Center Online, Gale Group, 2000.

Center Ice, www.geocities.com/scott23gomez/sgprofile.html

New Jersey Devils, www.newjerseydevils.com

www.nhlpa.com/Content/THE_PLAYERS/player_bio1.asp?ID=6728

Helene Barker Kiser

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