It was a great night for the New York Islanders, and a terrible night for the Philadelphia Flyers, as they cruised to a 6 - 1 victory on Saturday as they continued to strengthen their spot in the East Division standings, but for one Islanders in particular this game meant even more.
For Thomas Hickey the game represented the end of a grueling journey that saw him battle through both professional and personal challenges to make it back to the National Hockey League. The game marked Thomas's first dating all the way back to May 3rd of 2019, almost two years ago and perhaps more importantly it was the first game he had played in since losing his brother Dan Hickey to a battle with cancer.
As you would expect it was an emotional moment for Thomas and he admitted as much when he was asked about his return following the big win over the Flyers.
"You know it's the best feeling I've had in a long time obviously," admitted Hickey after the game. "Personally and professionally it's been tough and there's people that you want to do things for to make them happy because we've had a really rough go."
Thomas is obviously referencing the loss of his brother here. His brother Dan passed away after a battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that occurs in the brain or spinal cord, in Dan's case it came in the form of an aggressive tumor in his brain. Although the loss of Dan no doubt devastated Thomas and his family, he also admitted that he continues to play for his brother even after he's gone.
"Been thinking about my brother and I always wanted to do good things while he was battling and fighting and to show him that you can play for him," said Hickey. "I think that carries over even though he's not with us, that's in the back of your mind. Those are the things you're thinking about and it's been a tough road but I feel like it's worth it."
Hickey had his own troubles battling through a number of injuries both during his time with the Islanders and in the American Hockey League with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but no doubt his brother would be very proud of him for making it all the way back despite the difficult journey.