Watching Finland forward Mikael Granlund execute a lacrosse-style goal against Russia in the semifinal of the IIHF World Championship last spring in Bratislava certainly was awe-inspiring.
Believe it or not, Israeli-Canadian Eliezer Sherbatov might have done one better.
But Sherbatov's goal was in the middle of April during the IIHF Division III World Hockey Championship in Cape Town, South Africa, and that's probably the reason his sensational move and goal only now is getting its just due. The tournament featured Israel, Greece, Luxembourg, Mongolia (which forfeited all five of its games), South Africa and Turkey. Israel went 5-0 while outscoring its opponents 57-9 to earn promotion to the Division II Worlds for 2012.
During Israel's 26-2 victory over Greece on April 15, the 19-year-old Sherbatov successfully pulled off a move that has to be seen to be believed. Breaking in on the Greek net, he pulled the puck between his skates and flipped it into the air. Before the puck could hit the ice, he poked it with his backhand over a lunging Greece goaltender in a maneuver that left everyone speechless. He finished the game with 6 goals and 8 assists.
Sherbatov, nicknamed "Eli," produced a tournament-leading 14 goals and 16 assists in four games; not surprisingly, he was named the tournament's best forward.
The goal might never have been seen by the general hockey population if not for Phoenix Coyotes forward and Twitter guru Paul Bissonnette, who tweeted the play not long after watching it. The video wasn't even uploaded to YouTube until July 9.
Despite the fact Sherbatov hasn't returned to Israel since moving to Laval, Que., when he was 2 years old, he's played for the Israel national team. He drew international attention when he played in the World Under-18 championship at age 13 at the Division III level in 2005 -- notching 4 goals and 9 points. Born in Rehovot, Israel, he played again with the U-18 team in 2008 (2 goals, 4 points) and with the senior team at the 2010 Division II World Championship (3 goals, 6 points).
Sherbatov has spent the last two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, playing for the Montreal Juniors in 2009-10 and splitting last season with the Juniors and Bale-Comeau Drakkar. He has totaled 18 goals and 45 points in 120 games in the QMJHL, producing 6 goals in 58 games in 2010-11.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic