The following is excerpted from the January 2016 issue of Blackhawks Magazine, featuring Artemi Panarin . Pick up the newest issue of the magazine at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.
Nick Schmaltz will tell you that he was simply in a good spot to tap in his first goal of the season, the last of six pucks that the University of North Dakota slipped past conference rival Miami on Friday, Nov. 13. And it was a beauty of a tally, involving four teammates and five passes in the span of 4 seconds-a blur of green and white executing a drop-passing, zig-zagging sequence that unlocked the defense so thoroughly there might as well not have been any red sweaters on the ice. All Schmaltz had to do to finish it off, really, was glide to the top of the blue paint, keep his stick on the ice and gently redirect the puck into an empty cage.
"It was those other guys who made the fancy drop passes who deserve much of the credit," Schmaltz remarked.
But the Blackhawks' 2014 first-round pick was slightly more involved in the play than he lets on. After collecting the puck at the edge of the defensive zone, Schmaltz sped up along the boards before swinging a lateral pass to a teammate in the center of the ice, igniting the whole insane sequence. The puck seemed to skim across the blue line at the same time Schmaltz entered the zone, causing the referees to initiate a lengthy goal review to see whether the play was literally too good to be true. The ensuing conference at the scorers' table went on for so long, they might have just been rewatching the play a few more times for their own entertainment.
Eventually the goal was confirmed, giving Schmaltz the bow on top of a four-point night and a bunch of new Twitter followers after ESPN reporter John Buccigross reposted the highlight video. He had compiled a respectable seven assists in 10 games up to that point in his sophomore season, but that weekend set the table for a remarkable 11-game point streak that stretched through the NCAA's holiday break.
It's not quite as ridiculous as the 26-game point streak completed this season by Patrick Kane , whose playmaking style could serve as a template for Schmaltz, but consider that the 19-year-old shared the NCAA lead in assists (23) and ranked fourth in points (26) at the halfway mark of the season, and the accomplishment grows more impressive in scale.