Hurricanes Svechnikov gets NHL’s first ‘Michigan’ lacrosse goal
Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov lifts the puck on his stick behind the goalie before whipping it into the net.
It had happened at virtually every level of hockey except the NHL – until Tuesday night.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov scored a lacrosse-style goal in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
It was the first time that type of goal – where a player picks the puck up on the blade of his stick and whips it into the net behind the goalie (see video) – was made in an NHL game.
Several had previously tried it in NHL games, including Svechnikov, who attempted it last season as a rookie against the New York Islanders. He’s the younger brother of Red Wing Evgeny Svechnikov, who was just sent down to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
The University of Michigan’s Mike Legg was the first to score that kind of goal in a game when he did so during a NCAA tournament game against Minnesota in 1996 at East Lansing’s Munn Ice Arena.
I was actually covering that game, and when Legg tied the contest 2-2, 7:06 into the second period with the goal, none of us watching from the press box could tell at first how the puck had wound up in the net. Not until watching television replays on the nearby monitors did any of us realize exactly what Legg had done.
Michigan won that game 4-3 and went on to win the 1996 national championship. Legg’s goal was dubbed by some as “The Michigan” and won a 1997 ESPY as “Outrageous Play of the Year.”
“My winger was Johnny Madden, who played in the NHL for New Jersey and elsewhere,” Legg, now 44 and a firefighter in Burnaby, British Columbia after playing in the minors and in Finland professionally, told the Charlotte Observer. “He got tackled taking the puck behind the net. I’m a right-handed shot and he was going into that right corner, and I just pulled it back and used the net as a bit of a shield in a safe position.
“I did it so much in practice and I felt so comfortable with doing it, even though I knew what would happen if I missed it, playing in a playoff game. That probably would have been my last shift.”
Legg said he got the idea from former pro player Bill Armstrong, who is also from Legg’s hometown of London, Ontario. Legg saw the older Armstrong practicing the move as they shared the same ice surface one summer. Armstrong, who played at Western Michigan, was playing for the Detroit Vipers in the old International Hockey League when Legg scored the goal.
“Tell him it’s just awesome, good for him,” Legg said about Svechnikov. “I’m so happy for him.”
But he was not the only hockey player in the world with a lacrosse goal on that night.
Nils Hoglander, a Vancouver Canucks prospect, also scored on a lacrosse play Tuesday for Rogle BK in a Swedish Hockey League game, knocking the puck off the back of the net before slinging it past the Djurgarden goalie and scoring.
“Everybody is on fire,” Legg said, chuckling. “I love seeing it done over and over in different versions. It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty neat to see all the different versions in all the parts of the world. Just mind-blowing.”