That first one, always, lingers lovingly in memory.
“Oh, sure I remember,’’ replies Dane Dobbie. “Of course. First game of the year. My first game in the NLL.
Dec. 29th, 2007, to be specific. A penalty-saturated 10-9 loss to the Mammoth at the Pepsi Center.
Troy Cordingly was in his first-year as coach back then, Kurt Silcott handled managerial duties.
Names like Ratcliff, Kelusky, Toth were those in blinking lights above the Calgary Roughnecks’ marquee.
And the name of the netminder dinged for that first Dobbie goal?
“Oooooooooooh,’’ is the perplexed admission, “you mighta got me there. Goaltender … Who was the goaltender … Sorry, you did get me there.”
Ah, well, incidental details can be forgiven (For the record, it was Gee Nash). That was, after all, a shade over eight years, one Champions Cup and 298 regular-season goals ago.
On Saturday in Langley, B.C., Dane Dobbie sets his sights on National Lacrosse League goal No. 300, which will make him the 25th player in the league and first to reach that milestone number toiling exclusively for this franchise.
Back in early September of 2007, the day the ‘Necks chose him fourth overall at the NLL draft out of the Burnaby Lakers, Silcott boasted that Dobbie “has the potential to be a top-notch performer for years to come.”
Spot-on in that projection, as it turns out.
Dane Dobbie, though, has never represented your prototype lacrosse sniper.
At 5-9 and 185 pounds he’s solid as all get out, but hardly chiseled out of Carrera marble, like a Michelangelo statue. Nor does he answer to a cape-and-tights nickname a la Curtis Dickson.
“He’s kind of a throwback,’’ reckons Necks’ boss Curt Malawsky, who recruited and coached Dobbie at the Jr. A level in 2005 and then became his Calgary teammate two years later.
“He has that warrior mentality, goes hard to the net. He has no fear. Doesn’t matter how big the defender is, whether he knows he’s going to get hammered after he releases his shot, there’s no hesitation getting to the middle of the floor.
“Then, when it’s time to finish, he’s got that poise and patience. Natural goal scorers, and I believe Dane is one, take what they’re given and make the most of it. Some guys have a predetermined shot, and that’s it. Others can adapt on the fly.
“He’s evolved, always been a very good off-ball player. But now he carries the ball more and has more responsibility. His ability to finish in tight, I’d put him up in the Top 5 guys in the NLL. He gets to the dirty areas.
“Scoring 300 goals at the highest level of lacrosse is special. Dobbes has been drawing the best defenders on his side of the floor for a long time.
“Not only does he have the ability to reach that milestone, he didn’t get it as the fourth or fifth option.”
When scrolling back through his personal archives, none of the official 298 make the top of Dobbie’s most-memorable list.
Those are reserved for the additional 44 playoff goals he’s also tallied.
“I’d say either of the two I scored in the championship game against New York, in 2009,’’ Dobbie says. “Any time you can score to help the team win, that’s where I’m taking it from.
“Winning that game, the championship, was the best time I’ve had in Calgary so far.
“The one to beat Colorado last year wouldn’t be too far behind (an 11-10 Western Division semi-final triumph), even though we wound up losing to Sask after that.
“The goals that will always mean the most are the ones the ones that result in raising a Cup at the end of the year.”
Now 30, he’s evolved from to that eager rookie who chased his first goal on Dec. 29th, 2007 against Gee Nash. His is one of the names above the marquee now.
“Everybody says so, but time actually does fly. Every veteran lacrosse guy I’ve talked to says it feels that by the time you snap your fingers, you’re done.
“To be honest, the older I get the faster the seasons go. So when somebody told me there were just 24 guys to reach 300, then it really clicked.
“I think there’s about six of them on that list I’ve played with in Calgary. So that’s something pretty special.”
In future, Dobbie can see membership in the 300 Club only continuing to swell.
“There are young kids and guys in the league four or five years, there’s no doubt in my mind they’re scoring 300. At least. Goals are going up. I remember 40 being the magic number when I started out. If you got that, it was unbelievable, it’d be leading the league.
“Now it’s 60, 70.
“Fans want to see goals and guys are coming in and putting up big numbers.
“The last couple years it’s just been crazy.”
With the Roughnecks out to avenge that 12-11 season-opening loss to the Stealth, there’s only one way to give No. 300 extra meaning on Saturday.
“If it’s a game winner, yeah. I know I’m going to reach that number. Hopefully I get it this weekend but if we don’t win …
“It sounds like a cliche but anybody would tell you that. And if they don’t, there’s probably something wrong with them.
“If I get two and we lose, it’ll feel hollow.
“If I get one and we win, good on us.
“If I get two and we win, that’ll be sweet.”
The fact he’s put up these numbers as a Roughneck, and a Roughneck only – tip to tip, stem to stern – only heightens the accomplishment.
“I’m very grateful to just have played for one organization. This organization. Hopefully I never play anywhere else. Calgary has treated me well. This is a great place to play.
“I love it here. I always have. Me and my wife picked up and moved here. I love the city, playing in front of the fans in the Saddledome.
“If I can keep healthy, I definitely plan on continuing. It’s scary but I’m going year-by-year, right? I’m hoping I can perform well enough that they’ll want me back. It’s always a two-way street, right? You’ve got to keep producing.
“I think it’ll be them telling me I can’t come back before I hang ‘em up.
“So, 300 … yeah, it’s nice.
“I guess it means I’m either real old or I’m doing something okay.”