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Congratulations to Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira for scoring his first National Hockey League goal on Monday and making history by becoming  only the third  Indo-Canadian player to pot a goal in the league.

Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira.

Edmonton Oilers center Jujhar Khaira.

Khaira, Edmonton’s 2012 third-round draft pick, took a pass from teammate Mark Letestu and fired the puck by Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in the second period, giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 win at Edmonton’s Rogers Place.

We introduced Khaira to Color of Hockey readers in 2014 when he was a member of the Western Hockey League’s  Everett Silvertips, which had two other players of Punjabi descent on the roster at the time.

With his goal Monday, the Surrey, British Columbia-born Khaira joins Robin Bawa  and Manny Malhotra in the record books. Bawa, a right wing, scored 6 goals and 1 assist in 61 games for the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and San Jose Sharks in the late 1980s and mid-1990s.

Malhotra, who was chosen by the New York Rangers with the seventh overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, tallied 116 goals and 179 assists in 991 games for the Rangers, the Sharks, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Khaira, who is Sikh, told Canada’s Sportnet that his first NHL goal was a dream come true.

“You think about it, at the back of your mind, always,” he told reporters after the game. “Growing up as a kid, playing street hockey, you always picture it in your head as you’re playing. It’s a reality now, and it feels good.”

And it felt great for Canada’s South Asian community, which has grown so much in size and hockey interest that Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts in Punjabi.
“Because this community has had to endure and sacrifice, our parents and grandparents, it’s really rewarding when you see young people achieve success in new areas,” Bhupinder Hundal, a member of Hockey Night in Canada’s Punjabi broadcast team, told CBC. “A hundred years ago people would come here and they couldn’t bring their families. They didn’t have the right to vote and they couldn’t own property. Now Jujhar Khaira can play hockey for the Edmonton Oilers.”