If there are three certainties in life, they are death, taxes, and dirty dangles at European All-Star events.
The Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game and Skills Competition took place this past weekend, and it lived up to European hockey’s reputation of producing jaw-dropping YouTube fodder once the game gets relaxed. This year, it was 23-year-old Vladimir Tkachyov blowing minds and popping eyes with this little ditty:
Tkachyov’s spinning-top showcase came on the heels of Kalle Kossila of the San Diego Gulls scoring a lacrosse-style goal in the middle of an AHL regular season game.
This got us thinking, what are some of the best “lacrosse” goals we’ve seen in hockey? Lately, it’s seemed as if the list has grown year after year, but with Kossila and Tkachyov in mind, let’s look back at some of the best puck-cradling punch-ins we’ve ever seen.
“THE MICHIGAN” – March 24, 1996
While Bill Armstrong had been pulling off this move in the minor leagues for some time before this, most of the hockey world’s first exposure to these lacrosse goals in hockey was due to Mike Legg pulling it off in the 1996 NCAA National Tournament. Legg’s goal tied the game for his University of Michigan Wolverines, who not only went on the win the regional semifinal game they were in against the University of Minnesota, but also capture that National Championship later in the tournament.
The goal’s legend grew and grew so much that any goal thereafter scored in that fashion is often referred to as “The Michigan” or “A Michigan”. In fact, many people erroneously remember that the goal took place in the national championship game or even in overtime to win the game. However, there’s no one mistaking it for anything less than one of the most iconic goals in hockey history.
(Major bonus points awarded for the announcers clearly having no idea what happened other than that the puck was in and Legg had scored. Somehow.)
ROB SCHREMP’S JUGGLING ACT – W-B/S Penguins Skills Competition, 2007
Back in the late 2000’s, the Penguins hosted their own skills competition separate from any festivities at the AHL All-Star Classic. The event featured the Penguins split into two teams for separate events, pitting then-assistant coach Dan Bylsma against head coach Todd Richards.
Coach Richards made the call to send out Robbie Schremp in the shootout portion of the skills competition. It turned out to be a very, very wise decision.
Schremp ended up replicating this move last year at the AHL All-Star Skills Competition in Syracuse, N.Y. while representing the Atlantic Division as a member of the Portland Pirates.
(SO MANY bonus points awarded for Creed being payed faintly in the background.)
MIKAEL GRANLUND “MAILS” ONE IN – May 13, 2011
Finland and Russia met in a semifinal game at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. Russia had reached the final three years in a row, and Finland had only won the whole thing once in the tournament’s near 90-year history. The Finns are no slouch, of course, but a victory for them would be quite an upset.
Mikael Granlund shocked the hockey world not only by scoring the game-winning goal for Finland to take down the Russians, but by doing so in dramatic, “Michigan-style” fashion.
Finland eventually went on to win gold, but Granlund’s phenomenal goal is remembered more than the medal ceremony or even the final (against rival Sweden, for that matter).
Granlund’s goal gained such notoriety, that the Finnish government put a perfectly captured photograph of the moment on a postage stamp. The stamp was so popular, that all prints were SOLD OUT before the end of the month. Now that’s special.
(There’s something about hearing shock and awe expressed in another language that makes it so much more thrilling. Bonus points.)
NIKITA GUSEV PUTS A TWIST ON AN OLD CLASSIC – Jan. 25, 2015
The lacrosse goal has become a staple at skills competitions these days. What makes them stand out from the rest putting your own unique flair on your attempt. That’s why Tkachov’s bid this year grabbed so much attention, as well as Robbie Schremp’s display with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 10 years ago.
At the 2015 KHL All-Star Skills Competition, Nikita Gusev tried his hand at making the move his own.
The full 360 and pulling the puck out from between the legs is a nice touch, and clearly left the crowd happy. Now if the Tampa Bay Lightning can get their 2012 draft pick to leave the motherland and join the NHL or AHL, they’d be even happier.
(You’ve got to award bonus points for picking the top corner, too. That’s the type of precision that often goes ignored in these type of events where the goalies are chastised for sneezing at puck to try and make a save.)
KAEL MOUILLIERAT STUNS HERSHEY – Mar. 20, 2016
This is likely the goal that remains most fresh in the minds of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans. With the Penguins headed into the weekend trailing the Hershey Bears by three points in the division standings, they rolled to a win in the first half of a home-and-home series and went into Giant Center the next day looking to reclaim first place.
Kael Mouillierat got Wilkes-Barre/Scranton off to a hot start by fooling Justin Peters with a behind-the-net lacrosse goal in the first two minutes of the game.
The thing is, it wasn’t the first time Mouillierat had done this, either. He had pulled it off the year prior while playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and even before that when he was in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads.
There’s no evidence of Mouillierat nailing the move for a fourth time now that he’s playing with Luleå in the Swedish Hockey League… at least not yet. (And if he ever does, that would earn him an undeniable amount of bonus points).
Surely there are plenty more goals like this scattered across the internet, these are just a collection of our favorites. But did we miss one of yours? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!