Brian and Tracy Bellows hurried to their seats a full hour before their son Kieffer took the ice with the Islanders on Tuesday night for his NHL debut.
Her daughter Brianna did FaceTimed with her parents when they took photos and videos at the Barclays Center. It was important. She needed the family's credentials to stream her brother's first NHL game to Alpha Chi Omega's entire dorm at the University of Nebraska.
But nothing could pull Brian Bellow's attention off the ice. The older Bellows, who was the second best choice in the NHL for the Minnesota North Stars in 1982, was waiting for his son's "rookie round", a tradition in which players who appeared in their first NHL game played a solo round turning on the ice warming up.
Before the islanders defeated the stars 4-3 in extra time, Brian Bellows used The Post to recall how his son got to this point and what impact he had on Kieffer's hockey career.
"I said to him …" Listen, sometime you will be called, just keep doing what you are doing, "said the older Bellows, who enjoyed a 17-year NHL career with three all-star nods." The players don't just move on a trajectory, I look at them like an escalator. You go up and then sometimes down one step and then three again. That really changes. "
Brian, 55, said his son made the first big leap in his hockey career when he played for the United States Hockey League (USHL) Sioux Falls Stampede. A 16-year-old Kieffer scored 52 points in 58 games.
However, when the left-hander went to Boston University in the NCAA to play under today's Rangers head coach David Quinn, his game recovered.
"Boston was its first year away," Bellows recalls. "I think it was a combination of absence and fun and you have to give it to him, why not? You are only 18. And he went to Portland [Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League] the next year and he was a different player and more mature. "
The young Bellows ended an already special night with his first NHL point, a late assistant for Derick Brassard's goal in the second half. He was noticeable on the ice in a good way. Islanders coach Barry Despite admitted that it was only a game, but listed a lot of positive results that he had seen in Kieffer's first game.
Kieffer described himself as a force striker and said he likes to play physically and shoot the puck. He sees his shot as one of his strengths, but hopes to continue to incorporate the small details into his game. He also said he hoped to learn from the veterans he now has around him.
There are many easy ways to find a player who was raised by a former NHL player. After the game, Kieffer made sure he thanked all of his teammates in Bridgeport, as well as all of the former coaches who helped him. He also admitted that he had noticed the well-known Dallas players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn at the other end of the ice.
"I take a second to warm up to look over the ice and see people I've seen growing up and even on TV this year," said Bellows.
"Jamie Benn is a guy I've been looking after all the time and I've been trying to model my game after him. It was nice to play against him – I was pretty impressed."
When asked who he thought was more nervous than he or his parents for Tuesday night's game, Kieffer said confidently that it was him.
"There are nerves, but when I step on the ice it feels like it just disappears," said Kieffer after the win. "It's just hockey. It's fun and I've worked on it all my life. I love doing it."