Hopefully Tyler Motte made a stop at Grandpa’s Cheese Barn yesterday morning, because he may not be going back up I-71 for a while.
The Blue Jackets called up Motte, fresh off a hat trick for the Cleveland Monsters, on Monday morning. With Cam Atkinson’s status uncertain before last night’s game – and Sonny Milano leading the team in goals – Motte’s chances at getting into the lineup, on the surface, looked like a toss-up.
Well, he got into the lineup. Atkinson wasn’t ready to go, Milano got scratched after playing season-low 3:17 in Saturday’s loss to St. Louis. Motte got his chance, and it looks like he’ll get a few more after an impressive club debut.
“He gave us energy and did a lot of good things,” said head coach John Tortorella. “I can’t take him out."
Tortorella said that it was a close call for Motte to make the opening night roster – he lost out on the last spot to Zac Dalpe – and that Motte was a good pro after being disappointed by the decision. Tonight, Tortorella rewarded Motte’s patience.
With a minute left in a 3-3 game, Motte was hopping over the boards. He got an overtime shift, too. At the end of the night, he was called to the bench for an interview with analyst Jody Shelley after being named the game’s second star. His efforts earned him the kepi – recognition from his teammates for being the player of the game.
(Also, fun fact: Motte became the first Blue Jackets player to wear No. 64 in a regular season game)
His post-game comments certainly paint him as the type of player that Tortorella has loved at his previous stops.
“It’s nice to go out and play my game and be able to contribute,” Motte said after the game. “Sticking true to myself, being reliable, worrying about the defensive zone first, getting in on the forecheck and creating turnovers."
That unselfish attitude isn’t what he’ll be remembered for tonight, though.
His first Blue Jackets goal came against one of the league’s better goaltenders in Tuukka Rask, on a breakaway where he broke through the middle and beat Zdeno Chara. It was a big moment for the 22-year-old forward, but he kept his composure.
He gave plenty of credit to Markus Nutivaara for an impressive stretch pass that sprung him on the breakaway.
“He made the pass look easy, he knew exactly where he was putting it,” Motte said of Nutivaara. “It was a great pass.”
Motte is a talented scorer, and put up 32 goals in 38 games as a senior at the University of Michigan two years ago. But Motte was quick to point out that Nutivaara and Bobrovsky (goalie assist!) weren’t the only teammates who had a hand in that goal.
“Whoever put the goalie scouting reports together did a good job,” Motte said.