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HOCKEY

Former UNO center Jayson Megna is living out his NHL dream

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Jayson Megna spent one year at UNO, but it was quite the year.

The freshman center racked up 13 goals and 31 points in 38 games, earning a spot on the WCHA all-rookie team in 2011-12. After that breakout season, Megna signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins to embark on his pro career.

“I’ve always told people this, but I loved my year in Omaha,” he said. “We had an amazing group of guys and I got to play with my brother (Jaycob), which was incredibly special and important to me. We had a great time together and I always look back at that year with fond memories.”

Stanley Cup Avalanche Lightning Hockey

Colorado Avalanche forward Jayson Megna (12) kisses the Stanley Cup after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

A decade later, Megna is still living out his dream. And that dream got even better two weeks ago, when he hoisted the Stanley Cup after the Colorado Avalanche beat Tampa Bay in six games.

“It was surreal, especially for the first 24 hours, and it’s hard to put into words,” Megna said. “Getting to the Stanley Cup in the first place is an incredibly difficult task and a lot of guys go their whole career without even getting there. So I definitely just tried to soak it all in once we made it to the finals.”

Megna played 20 games for the Avalanche this year, and also spent time on Colorado’s taxi squad. Though he didn't appear in a playoff games, he was able to travel with the team to Tampa and take part in all of the morning skates, meetings and team meals.

The former Mav was also part of the on-ice celebration and the parade that followed in Denver.

“I didn't play a game in the playoffs, but I was there for 20 games this year and around the team for more, so I still felt a part of it,” he said. “The guys were clear about that and the coaching staff was clear, too, so it was just such a cool experience to be a part of.

“And to be able to be on the ice and celebrate with the guys when they won the cup, and to get to lift it and skate around the rink with it myself, it’s just hard to explain. You worked all these years to get to the pinnacle of your sport and then finally getting able to hoist that trophy was incredibly special.”

Megna made his NHL debut Oct. 25, 2013. He played 48 games in his two seasons with the Penguins, including two in the playoffs in 2014.

After spending time with the New York Rangers, Vancouver and Washington’s organizations, Megna inked a one-year deal with the Avs on July 1, 2019. He signed two extensions with Colorado since and his current deal runs through next season.

Stanley Cup Avalanche Lightning Hockey

Colorado Avalanche forward Jayson Megna lifts the Stanley Cup after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

He’s spent most of his time with Colorado’s AHL affiliate in Loveland, where he’s been a prominent player for a team that also made a deep run in the playoffs.

“I feel very fortunate to have found a home in Colorado,” Megna said. “It's an incredible place. First and foremost to live and for my wife and I to raise a family, it's been everything and more. But the people in the organization are top notch and everyone's been super good.

“And I feel very fortunate to have found a place at this point in my career where we’ve had success and I’ve been part of a winning culture, too. Because that’s what you dream of as a kid in this sport.”

Megna vaguely remembers seeing the Stanley Cup up close as a kid at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. But “nothing compares” to hoisting it overhead and skating around the rink with it.

“I had no idea how heavy it was, so my first thought was don’t drop it,” Megna said. “It was such an amazing feeling though and just almost a sense of accomplishment and culmination of all these years I’ve played hockey. I’m just very fortunate to be a world champion.”

As has been a long tradition in the NHL, members of the winning team get to spend a day with the cup. Megna said he’s not sure when, or even if he’ll get his day with Lord Stanley. But if he does, he plans on sharing it with those closest to him.

“I think I’m down the totem pole as far as getting to pick a date or anything like that,” Megna said with a laugh. “But if they ever make that call, it’ll be a last-minute thing and I’ll be ready, wherever I am. I just hope as many family members and friends can be there as possible.

“Maybe a little barbecue or a day of golf, but just something to spend time with the people who have supported me along the way to this point.”

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