It’s not every day that an OHL rookie has the folks at major media outlets like TSN oohing and ahhing over a goal from a Sunday afternoon junior hockey matinee.
And it’s not every day that a hockey player pulls off a move that would make a seasoned lacrosse player stand up a take notice.
That first thing happened this weekend when first-year Ottawa 67’s forward Graeme Graeme Clarke produced a moment of magic that will be talked about for a long time to come. The second thing probably also happened because, well, it was just a really sweet goal – in hockey or lacrosse.
On Sunday, with just over two minutes to go in the second period of Ottawa’s eventual 6-1 win over Peterborough, Clarke rounded the net and, in one smooth motion from behind the cage, scooped the puck off the ice, around the post and into the top corner.
The goal left the jaws of Clarke’s teammates on the ice, sent the crowd into hysterics and had the Petes trying to figure out what had hit them. It also left Clarke with an ear-to-ear grin on his face in post-game interviews where he modestly explained that, yes, he has pulled off the move a few times before and does practice it on occasion and no, he doesn’t play lacrosse.
The first time the 16-year-old has pulled this off his “did you see that?” moment came during the 2016 World Selects International, where he accomplished the feat twice. The then 15-year-old, playing for East Coast Selects Q, scored his first lacrosse style goal in the tournament against Team Colorado. The goaltender is still trying to figure that one out.
In the second instance, Clarke had a bit more time and pulled it off even more smoothly as he tapped his stick below the goal line to receive the pass before deftly depositing the puck around the post and into the net.
Before Sunday, Clarke’s most recent success with the move came last year during the OHL Cup. Looking like he was going to skate fully around the net, Clarke instead stopped suddenly, scooped the puck and put in on the opposite side, leaving the goalie fooled.
With all eyes on Clarke to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve, he’s not the first to execute what has come to be called the “The Michigan”. Mike Legg famously did it 21 years ago in the 1996 NCAA NCAA West Regional semi-final. Legg, playing for the Michigan Wolverines, pulled off the nifty move against the University of Minnesota. That game was broadcast in the U.S by ESPN and propelled Legg into stardom as the move became known as ‘The Michigan’. The stick he used to score that goal was donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The inventor of the goal, however was Bill Armstrong. He played for Michigan University and then was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers before going to play in the American Hockey League for the Hershey Bears.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain and former junior phenom Sidney Crosby did in 2003 while with the Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
And if you had to pick a perfect moment to pull off “The Michigan,” that award would go to Finland’s Mikael Granlund. Finland was playing Russia in the semi-final of the 2011 IIHF World Championship and Granlund decided it was a good time for some stick trickery. It was so momentous that Finland commemorated it with a postage stamp.
Former NHLer Mason Raymond also scored one for his country during the 2017 Sochi Hockey Open.