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Mexican-American hockey player of the New Jersey Devils, Scott Gomez added another trophy to his shelf by getting the Calder Award. An award which honors the NHL's top rookie. 

He became only the second player in Devils history to capture the Calder. Goalie Martin Brodeur won it in 1993-94. 

Wearing a tuxedo at the annual NHL Awards ceremonies, Gomez delighted the audience with his smile and spontaneity. 

"Wow. I'm just a little Mexican kid coming to New Jersey," Gomez said in an acceptance speech that brought down the house in the Air Canada Centre.

After thanking coaches and team officials, he grinned at the audience. "That sounded all
right didn't it?" he said. 

"I'd definitely like to thank my parents, my mom and my dad and my sisters Monica and
Natalie," he continued. "I love you all." 

At that point, cameras broadcasting the awards live to a national television audience focused on mother Dalia Gomez as she wiped tears from her face. 

Christopher Reeve, the actor paralyzed in a horse-riding accident five years ago, presented the award along with his young son. "Today's rookies are tomorrow's heroes," he said before announcing Gomez as the winner. 

"It's an honor to be up here with Mr. Reeve and his son," Gomez said. "He shows what courage is all about." 

 The first Hispanic player ever drafted by an NHL team in the first round and the 18th Alaskan ever picked, Gomez immediately became a media darling when he made the team in training camp and gradually had one of the most memorable debuts in many years.

"I want to thank Jay Pandolfo for getting me up in the morning so I wouldn't have to face Mr. Lamoriello," Gomez joked. "And Jason Arnott, my playoff roommate. I want to thank the fans, the people in New Jersey and, especially, all the people in Anchorage, Alaska." 

Gomez became the first rookie to win the Calder Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season since Kent
Douglas of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1963. 

"He had a real average season," Brodeur deadpanned. "Truthfully, it was amazing. For a young guy to be in the
spotlight as much as he was because of his background and to respond so well is a credit to him. He worked hard, stayed healthy and had a great season." 

Gomez, 20, led all NHL rookies with 70 points (19 goals, 51 assists). He broke Kevin Todd's Devils rookie records of 42 assists and 63 points set in 1991-92 and finished two short of Todd's mark of 21 goals by scoring 19. 

"It's kind of scary," Gomez said of his first season. "Like Lou (Lamoriello) says, this is something to build on. Now I know what it takes. 

"I'm sure there are going to be higher expectations next season. That's what makes it great." 

His father, Carlos, was one of 10 children born to migrant Mexican farm workers in California. His mother, Dalia, was born in Colombia. 

"They feel the same way about this as I do. It's a dream come true," Gomez said. "I was waiting all year to wake up." 

He learned hockey by watching the University of Alaska and began playing hockey in Anchorage at the age of five. Originally a Philadelphia Flyers fan, he became a Devils follower when Mike Peluso played on the team and helped win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 1995. 

"It's every kid's dream, not only to make the NHL but to have success," Gomez said. "I think the most memorable part of the season was my first road trip, being in Atlanta with the team. It was like I had finally arrived. I didn't strike out." 

His first NHL points came when he collected a pair of assists on Oct. 7 in the home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His first goal was scored on Oct. 16 against the Islanders. 

"He had an unbelievable year. I don't know if anybody ever had that kind of year," fellow rookie Colin White said. 

By the time he reached the playoffs, Gomez was no longer the wide-eyed rookie. He had seen the media attention and he handled everything on the ice, never going more than three games without scoring. 

"Scotty is young, but you can see on his face he loves to be out there," coach Larry Robinson said. "Also, he has a ton of talent." 

The award puts the finishing touch on a magical hockey season that included the Stanley Cup championship and an All-Star Game appearance. 


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