May 15, 2011

One of a kind

Last friday 2011-05-13 Finland's Mikael Granlund scored a nifty goal against Team Russia at the Ice Hockey World Championship:

The goal has caught the attention of hockey fans around the world. TSN, Canada's sports leader, has an article on the goal.


Early in the second period of Finland's semifinal win against Russia, Granland gathered the puck deep along the end boards in the Russian zone, stick-handled past a defender and behind the net, flipped the puck onto the blade of his stick, and flung it into the Russian's net, lacrosse style, to give the Fins a 1-0 lead.

TSN then goes on to make a strange claim:

Twice before has a goal like Granlund's been scored. In 1996, the University of Michigan's Mike Legg defeated the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament with a similar goal, and in 2006 Sidney Crosby scored one just like it while with the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL.

Twice before? That stretches credibility, as this move is quite popular in junior leagues around the world. And indeed, a quick look on the Web yielded several more instances.

Bill Armstrong has apparently scored a goal like that several times (two examples at 1:28), and claims to have pioneered the move.

As you may have gathered, those two goals came in the same week, so for him it wasn't a one time novelty move.

Mikael Granlund himself has scored a similar goal before in Finland's junior league.

And in 2008 U18 contest, though for a reason unclear to me that one was disallowed.

His brother Markus also scored a "lacrosse-style" goal in Finnish junior league.

And it's not just junior league stuff; "Zorro" goals have been seen in professional leagues as well. Here's Jani Lajunen, also a member of 2011 Team Finland, deciding an SM-liiga game on OT.

That was in 2010. If Granlund's goal is the goal of the year in 2011, that just means 2011 was slow. There was another high-profile lacrosse goal in 2010, in the playoff finals of Swiss league by Thomas Déruns.

So, yeah, twice before. TSN didn't even qualify that number in any way. I'm afraid the claim doesn't reflect well on TSN's hockey knowledge, or counting skills.

They do give Granlund's goal one distinction over Crosby's and Legg's.

But what made Granlund's goal extra special was that while both Legg and Crosby scored their goals standing still behind the net, Granlund pulled it off at full speed.

Much like Rob Hisey in SM-liiga. That's the reason Finnish play-by-play for Lajunen's goal called it a "Rob Hisey".

It's very unfortunate that Canada's series don't boast soft hands like that. Oh, Rob Hisey did it in another professional league as well, this time in Austria.

Of course, cool lacrosse goals seem to be his thing.

You'll note the clip is from TSN, so they can't really claim to be unaware of the guy.

Frankly, I expected better from TSN. The Finnish media is, predictably, going banana over Granlund's goal, which seems a little unwarranted as it's not all that unique, but I would have thought Canada's sports leader would have a little better sense of hockey history.

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