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Orland Park native David Gust nets goal on first NHL shot

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By Alison Moran 
Correspondent

Orland Park native David Gust is living the dream.

It was a year ago the 2012 Marist graduate helped the Chicago Wolves win the 2022 Calder Cup, tallying five goals and seven assists in 18 postseason games.

Shortly after, Gust and his wife Lexi, found out they were going to be first-time parents. Gust, 29, pondered his future.

“I almost retired after the [Calder Cup championship],” he said. “I thought it might be time to start the next chapter.”

He thought he’d join his parents, Dave and Kelly, in running the family business, Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park.

Fate had other plans.

Last July, Gust, after seven seasons in the American Hockey League, reunited with his former Chicago Fury coach Anders Sorensen with the Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, opening up the possibility he could one day play in the NHL.

“I honestly thought that ship had sailed,” Gust admitted.

Gust’s 24 goals, 26 assists and 50 points for the IceHogs proved his worth to the Blackhawks, who signed him to a two-year two-way contract.

The Hawks called him up on February 23 to fill a roster spot vacated by injury and trades, including the trade of his childhood hero, Patrick Kane, to the New York Rangers. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was given Kane’s old locker.

“I spent a few days with him before he left,” Gust reflected, referring to Kane. “Such a cool experience.”

“Everything happened all at once. All your childhood dreams are coming true. The opportunity to play for your hometown team, and now you’re playing alongside your heroes.”

His first shift as a member of the Blackhawks was one for the ages. With his parents cheering him on at the SAP Center in San Jose, Gust was working out “first-shift butterflies” when he took a pass from center Colin Blackwell and shot the puck past San Jose Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.

“I didn’t know how to react,” Gust recalled. “It was the best feeling.”

Four games later, the Blackhawks sent him back to Rockford to help with the IceHogs’ playoff push.

“You kind of know it’s coming,” he said. “I’m glad they’re investing in the older guys, so the younger guys can learn from us.”

In a fitting end to a dazzling month, Gust’s daughter, Sloane, was born on March 14.

“She’s changed everything,” Gust said. “When I come home from a tough day at the rink, I see her and nothing else matters. It’s awesome.”

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