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Breaking Down Andrei Svechnikov's Lacrosse-Style, Highlight-Reel Goal

Gibbons: 'Just Svech doing Svech things'

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

According to Andrei Svechnikov, his biggest talent outside of hockey is magic.

But, judging by the goal he scored on Tuesday night against Calgary, magic might as well be included in his hockey skillset, as well.

Now 48 hours removed from what will likely be the goal of the season in the National Hockey League, let's revisit Svechnikov reaching "into those bag of tricks for some magic," as play-by-play voice John Forslund bellowed, and the reactions that followed.

The Goal

How many times have you watched the goal? It's mesmerizing from each and every angle.

Video: Svechnikov's Goal of the Year Candidate

So, let's break it down.

Lucas Wallmark dropped the puck down the near wall to Svechnikov, who chased it down and skated it behind the net. Wallmark followed his pass and was open for a return feed.

"I kind of called for it right away," he said. "Then I was like, 'No, I'm not going to call for it.' I knew he was going to try it because he didn't have a guy on him."

Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington directed defenseman Rasmus Andersson to Brian Gibbons in the slot.

"I was at the end of my shift," Gibbons said. "I was kind of tired in front, just kind of sticking around to see if anything popped out."

Kylington, attempting to telegraph Svechnikov's path, slid to the far side of the net, but Svechnikov slammed on the brakes. Kylington was frozen in no man's land.

"I got so much space," Svechnikov said. "I'm like, 'Why am I not going to try that?' so I tried it."

Seeing Svechnikov scoop the puck onto his blade, Wallmark eyed Sean Monahan and tied him up, allowing Svechnikov the time and space he needed on the near side of the net to attempt the move.

As if he was plating a pancake with a spatula, Svechnikov held the puck on his blade and jammed it in a just-big-enough hole over David Rittich's right shoulder where his masked face couldn't quite defend.

"It was just crazy," Wallmark said.

"You could see him setting up for it, and he starts to get a little excited," Gibbons said. "Once he got it on his stick, you start looking to see how much room there is. There wasn't much, but he found a way."

"He's practiced it every day for the last two years," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said after the game. "He never misses it in practice. It was just a matter of time for it to happen. It was a huge moment. We needed it."

Video: CGY@CAR: Svechnikov scores lacrosse-style goal

Not only was it a spectacular display of skill, but it was also exactly the type of goal the Canes needed - Rittich was otherwise turning everything aside - at exactly the time they needed it - down a goal in the third period at home.

"That's everything," Brind'Amour said. "That's almost what we needed to happen to get a goal. It wasn't going to happen any other way. Their goalie played great … and ours did too."

"It was such a big goal for us at the time. It felt like we were working hard and getting chances but couldn't get anything to go, and then he does that. It just kind of lifted everyone up, for sure," Gibbons said. "We had a lot of grade-A chances it felt like, but the goalie was playing great and had our number, for sure. It took something like that - a special play by a special player.

"Then he goes out his next shift and gets another one, which is," Gibbons shook his head in disbelief, "just Svech doing Svech things."

The Reactions

Did that just happen?!

Instantaneous reaction inside PNC Arena, which opened its doors 20 years ago that night, was equal parts elation and disbelief.

Jon Jon Chitla, a red jersey-clad fan sitting just behind the glass, saw it all unfold right in front of his eyes, and the best part is, he realized exactly what was happening. As Svechnikov scooped up the puck, Chitla scooted to the edge of his seat, and when Svechnikov rammed the puck into the net, he leapt up, hands in the air, banging the glass.

Tweet from @jonjonchitla: I even got my lax stick signed the next day at meet the team event 🤩 pic.twitter.com/eT91UTEc6S

The red light illuminated, the goal horn blared and Svechnikov pumped his signature celebration.

Instinctually, everyone in the arena hooped and hollered and cheered, but once the replay aired over and over and over again on the new, gigantic video board, the noise ratcheted up. Gasps. Ohhs and ahhs.

I was fairly certain what I had just witnessed live and pounded out a quick tweet certainly unworthy of any literary praise, especially considering a misspelling with a rogue "n" at the beginning of "my." But, the imperfectness of that missive is a snapshot of the pandemonium we all experienced.

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Oh nmy goodness. Andrei Svechnikov just did the lacrosse goal.

Yep, that happened.

Gibbons, the first teammate to reach Svechnikov, grabbed the Russian teenager and shook him, as if he was trying to fight him out of sheer disbelief.

"Just kind of like a holy s--- moment," Gibbons said. "I don't think I said anything. I don't really remember. I was just kind of shaking him, just making sure he realized what he just did. I was fired up just like I'm sure the fans were and everyone who saw it."

"I didn't hear anything because the fans were so fired up. [Gibbons] was so happy for me," Svechnikov said. "Obviously I was happy."

"I think we were all pretty excited but laughing at the same time. I think he was pretty shocked too," Hamilton said after Tuesday's game. "He was smiling and laughing for a couple minutes after that. So happy he scored that."

The internet, of course, has feasted on Svechnikov's jaw-dropping goal. Instant reaction was an echo chamber of "Wow!" and "Oh my goodness!" and the like. A quick search containing the words "Svechnikov" and "lacrosse" unearths a deluge of articles (add this one to the pile), videos, memes, tweets and takes.

Tweet from @Canes: When Svech happens pic.twitter.com/LCz3qUPZMO

Lacrosse teams have attempted to recruit the Canes' forward. Jeremy Roenick said Svechnikov's goal was "so sick! I can't get over it. That will be goal of the year." Russian journalist Vladimir Soloviev, who has 1.4 million followers, tweeted his support for the goal of the year. Even actor Colin Hanks loved it!

Tweet from @ColinHanks: What a jerk. Crazy. https://t.co/vubS78UhI4

Among the many congratulatory messages Svechnikov received was, of course, one from his brother, Evgeny, who originally taught him the move.

"He just said he was very proud of me," Svechnikov said. "It's something special, you know?"

Making History

Svechnikov didn't pioneer the move, but he is now the answer to the trivia question of who scored the first lacrosse-style goal in the National Hockey League.

Mike Legg earned his claim to fame with "The Michigan," a lacrosse-style goal he scored while playing for the University of Michigan in a 1996 NCAA tournament game against the University of Minnesota, a year before Svechnikov was born.

Often imitated but never duplicated, at least not in the NHL. Many have attempted it - Filip Forsberg, Evgeny Kuznetsov and even Svechnikov among them. The move has been pulled off in other leagues, though. Svechnikov said he first saw Mikael Grandlund score the goal for Team Finland in the 2011 IIHF World Championship semifinals, against the Russia, no less.

Earlier that same day, in fact, Nils Hoglander scored a similar lacrosse-style goal.

"He scored better than me," Svechnikov said.

Debatable. They were both sick. Hoglander dangled around a defender's stick, scooped up the puck and tucked it under the crossbar in one fluid motion. Svechnikov pulled it off in a critical moment in the greatest league in the world.

"NHL is a little faster game, so it's hard to pull off because you don't have a lot of time," he said.

Until Next Time

Will there be a next time?

"It's going to be tough for him to get that off again now because everyone knows about it," Brind'Amour said. "That's a huge thing for a young kid to know you can actually make these plays and do these things. Once you put that in your back pocket, the sky is the limit."

"I hope he does it again, but it's not easy," Wallmark said. "It would be sick if he can do it again."

"When D pressure you, you can't really do that because you don't have any room," Svechnikov said. "If I have room like I had, I'm going to try, for sure."

And if not Svechnikov, then who?

"Maybe when I was little," Gibbons said. "I don't even think I could do that with no one on me. It might take me a minute to get it up on my stick."

"I can't do it," Hamilton said. "He was trying to teach me, and I had no chance."

"I was trying today in practice, but Roddy was just laughing at me, so I'm probably not going to do it," Wallmark laughed.

Svechnikov has faith in Wallmark, though.

"He's good. I think he can do it," Svechnikov said. "He's skilled."

And if not Wallmark, "I would say Seabass. Pretty skilled," Svechnikov said.

A lacrosse-style goal. The Michigan. Whatever moniker it was once ascribed, feel free to now refer to it as The Svech.

"He's a special player who has a special talent," Brind'Amour said, "and he was able to show it."

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