If someone saw Flyers’ forward Jared Ross in the supermarket, they may mistake him for a bagger or cashier. But the diminutive 26-year old with a boyish face and 5-foot-9, 170 lbs. frame has not only played in the NHL, but has done something no one else, big or small, has ever done: Be a native of Alabama and score a goal.
Less than four minutes in the third period of the Flyers – Penguins game three matchup, Ross grabbed an Andrew Alberts rebound and stuck it into the net, giving his team the much-needed insurance goal and 5-2 lead. The tally was not only the first of his career, but inked him into the record books. Ross celebrated accordingly.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a kid,” said Ross. “To be able to do that, pitch in and give us a little cushion on the lead felt good. It was unbelievable.”
Ross was born in Huntsville, Alabama, a town about two hours south-west of Chattanooga, TN. Not exactly a hockey hotbed. Ross was a star for the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team, scoring 133 goals in four seasons. After graduation, he went undrafted and joined the Motor City Mechanics of the International Hockey League. He then split some time with the ECHL and the AHL.
“People kept saying, it’s going to be pretty tough to play, coming from Alabama,” Ross said. “But I’ve never given up. I’ve been working hard my whole life to get here. My dad’s always told me to never give up on your dreams and I never have.”
But it wasn’t until the 2007-08 season that Ross found his niche.
In his first full season with the Phantoms, Ross scored an eye-opening 62 points in 67 games. The production, along with a strong prospect camp in the offseason, garnered the attention of the Flyers’ brass the following season. Even at his size, the Flyers gave him a shot to play at the NHL level. And that’s saying something.
“I feel so good for him right now,” said his father, Doug Ross. “But you know what I’m really proud of? Anybody who meets him, anybody who talks to him, says what a nice young man he is. I’m as proud of that as anything that happened today.”
For Ross, the opportunity is a dream come true. Even as a kid from Alabama, the Flyers were in his cards.
“The Flyers were my brother’s favorite team,” he told the media. “When I was little, my dad actually made a comment on a video saying that I was going to be recruited by the Flyers someday. So they became one of my favorite teams.”