By Kevin Klott
Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – He eats his mama’s homemade steak tacos, cheers his little sister’s goals at Anchorage Football Stadium and drinks beers with his dad’s buddies at the Crossroads Lounge.
Scott Gomez is home. Thanks to the lockout that canceled this year’s National Hockey League season, the two-time Stanley Cup winner has gotten reacquainted with his Anchorage stomping grounds since October.
Hanging around Anchorage is something this 25-year-old hockey stud hasn’t done since he was a junior at East High.
The following year, he was playing junior hockey in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. Gomez went to Washington state to play two more junior hockey seasons in the Western Hockey League before heading straight to New Jersey to play professional hockey six years ago.
But after seven months here, it’s becoming difficult to remember what it’s like living on the East Coast, away from family and high school pals while playing for the New Jersey Devils.
“It’s been nice to be home,” he said. “It’s been a long time.”
Eight years in fact. And in Dalia Gomez time, each year without her son has seemed like an eon. Ever since he was drafted in the first round by the Devils in 1998, his winters have been spent skating in the NHL.
But this season, he’s been an Alaska Ace. That’s been a treat for Gomez’s entire family — his sisters Monica and Natalie, his father Carlos, and his nieces Zulai and Natalia. But if any family member missed Gomez most, it was his mom.
Now that he’s back, there are no more long-distance phone calls from Alaska to New Jersey. No more cross-country trips for a visit. Instead of flying 4,500 miles to see her son, Dalia hops in her Yukon and drives 10 miles across town to her son’s Eastside condo. She’s made the trip just about every day Scott’s been in town.
“He’s been so happy to be home,” Dalia said. “I hate for it to end.”
Though Dalia knows her son’s heart will forever be in Anchorage, his career, apartment and girlfriend are in Jersey.
That’s where Gomez is right now. He’s watching the Aces from the seats of Trenton’s Sovereign Bank Arena, sidelined with a broken pubis bone as the Aces try to win the ECHL’s National Conference Finals against the Titans.