The NHL’s Lacrosse Takeover

How two kids from London, Ontario birthed the most unique goal in hockey’s history.

Sam Riches | Longreads | June 2020 | 21 minutes (5,399 words)

During the third period of a late October game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Calgary Flames, Andrei Svechnikov, a right-winger for the Hurricanes, corrals the puck deep in Calgary’s offensive zone.

Sensing the presence of the 19-year-old Russian, Flames goaltender David Rittich seals his body against the post. It’s textbook positioning, a preventive measure in case Svechnikov — the second overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft — attempts a centering pass or a sneaky shot from a bad angle. Unfortunately for Rittich, who has seen, studied, and saved a lot of shots in his life, there is no playbook for what’s about to happen.

Svechnikov cuts behind the net and then stops abruptly. He shifts his momentum and reverses course and all eyes — from the scrambling defense to the nearly 14,000 fans in the PNC Arena in Raleigh — shift with him. With his feet still moving, he shifts the puck onto its side, slips his stick underneath it, and cradles it on his blade until he spots a window in the top of the net, next to Rittich’s head. It’s enough space to make history. Like a postal worker jamming the last letter of the day through a mail slot, Svechnikov stuffs the puck into the net. It’s not the smoothest finish, but it doesn’t matter.

For the first time in National Hockey League history, a high wrap, lacrosse-style goal has been scored, and it happens so quickly that initially only Svechnikov realizes the significance. As he glides across the ice, he invokes one of his signature celebrations, an overhead first pump, one leg hitched up into the air, before his teammates mob him. Brian Gibbons, a hockey journeyman who is more than a decade older than Svechnikov, is the first to reach him. He grabs the teen by his collar and shakes him enthusiastically, if not a little mercilessly, as the rest of the Hurricanes join the celebration. For just a moment, everyone forgets about the game. It seemingly doesn’t matter that Svechnikov’s game-tying goal ends Rittich’s shutout, or that there’s still ten minutes left to play. The focus is solely on Svechnikov, who is not only the first player born in the 2000s to score in the NHL, but now the record holder for first lacrosse-style goal in NHL history.

“It’s a signature moment for a guy overflowing with confidence,” says color commentator Tripp Tracy during the broadcast.

Svechnikov scores again three minutes later, on a shot from the point during a power play. It’s the game-winning goal, but the crowd is still buzzing from what they’ve witnessed moments earlier. They are still floating in that liminal space, where the rules of possibility have been reimagined and are now being rewritten. It’s a quality that all transcendent stars like Svechnikov possess, an ability to call history into existence.

Svechnikov is interviewed on the ice afterward, the short exchange broadcast on the jumbotron for the entire arena to hear. “I practiced that today,” he says. “I was dreaming to score that goal.”

He steps off the ice to raucous and unbridled applause, the type usually reserved for a playoff victory and jogs down the tunnel to the locker room, letting out a squeaky “Woo!” that sounds every bit his 19 years of age. He is beaming ear to ear. As he turns the corner and steps into the dressing room, his teammates erupt as soon as they spot him, shouting over one another with their hands on their heads.

“What was THAT?”

“Oh. My. God.”

“That was a dirty goal!”

Head coach Rod Brind’Amour stands at the edge of the room, a smile on his face. He rubs his chin and raises an eyebrow. He’s just as perplexed as everyone else.

“All right, I’ll be quick,” he says, stepping forward to address the team. He’s standing near, but not on, the carpeted Hurricanes logo in the center of the room.

“First of all, that was a great effort. … You feel pretty proud watching that.”

Then he raises his index finger in Svechnikov’s direction. “Pays to practice, huh?”

Svechnikov attempted a lacrosse-style goal last year, in his rookie season, but the defense knocked him off the puck before he could finish it. He’d been waiting for his chance to try it again. He works on his puck control every day. It is not uncommon to see Svechnikov gather a cache of pucks behind the net after practice and before games. He scoops the vulcanized-rubber discs off the ice and, one by one, and deposits them into the goal, like quarters into a slot machine.

“What a move. I mean, that’s …”

Brind’Amour doesn’t finish the thought. He doesn’t need to. It’s the second consecutive win for the Hurricanes, a team that had recently lost four of its last five games. The timing was right for history to break in their favor. Right now, in this locker room — in this moment — things are good for the young team. Better than good.

“Everything is perfect,” Brind’Amour says.

Down the hall, in the visiting locker room, things are less perfect.

Matthew Tkachuk, who finished the season as the Flames point leader, keeps his eyes locked on the floor in the post-game interview scrum.

“They just took it to us. They had all the momentum in the world,” he says. “That guy scored an awesome goal.”

Rittich keeps his answers short — the embarrassment aside, he had a shutout in reach before allowing two goals in a span of five minutes.

“Good play. Smart,” he says of Svechnikov’s shot. “I don’t know what I can say about it.”

Turns out, the sports world has a lot to say about it. In the rush to publicize the funky shot, it seems that every story traces the move back to what is — or was — its most famous example: Mike Legg scoring for Michigan in a 1996 NCAA tournament game. In the comments section and across social media, people argue about what to call the goal.

Don’t call it the Michigan, or the Svech, or a lacrosse goal — call it the Mike Legg. After all, he’s the guy who invented it. It’s a reasonable argument to make. But it’s also misinformed. If the goal’s creator should be honored by name, then it shouldn’t be named after Legg, it should be named after a forward who played a single NHL game then never appeared in the league again.

It should be named the Bill Armstrong.

***

Both Armstrong and Legg grew up in London, Ontario, a city of about 400,000 people, a few hours west of Toronto. The area is known mostly for an abundance of both farmland and hockey players. About 50 local athletes have skated for a team in the world’s best hockey league, including Jeff Carter, Joe Thornton, and Eric Lindros.

Though Armstrong is nine years older, Legg remembers watching him at the local rink. Each summer Armstrong, who was then working his way through the Philadelphia Flyers system, would return to London to train and coach at local hockey schools.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, I gotta watch this guy,’” Legg says from outside of Vancouver. For the past 14 years, he has worked as a firefighter, and now also coaches minor hockey. “‘Look at how smooth he is. Wow, look at the reach, look at his hands.’ I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, he’s the new Mario Lemieux.’” For Legg, the lanky 6’2” Armstrong looked even taller, his size inflated by Legg’s admiration. “He was the man,” Legg says. “I just wanted to do what he was doing.”

During one warm-up skate in the summer of 1993, Legg watched Armstrong scoop a puck onto the blade of his stick and stuff it into the net. Legg, who was still a few months away from enrolling at the University of Michigan, had never seen anything like it: “He wrapped it in and I’m like I have no idea how he just did that.”

Legg says he was too nervous to approach Armstrong after, but he also couldn’t shake the image of Armstrong lifting the puck off the ice and lassoing it into the net. He decided to learn it himself. He practiced at home, away from prying eyes, and taught himself how to apply leverage to the puck to make it stick to the blade. He worked on it every day and mostly kept it to himself. But as he packed his bags that fall and headed to Michigan, a college hockey powerhouse, the move came with him. He had essentially mastered the shot, by this point. All he needed was the green light from a coach.

As the Wolverines prepared for the NCAA tournament in March 1996, he finally got it. Legg and some of his teammates were giving goalie Marty Turco (the sophomore would go on to play in the NHL for more than a decade) a hard time: “I was behind the net, just doing different versions of it,” Legg says. “Up and around and over, trying to tuck it around and put it in the five-hole, all the way around him and just goofing around.” Standing at the blue line, Red Berenson, the team’s head coach, noticed the moves from his shaggy-haired, third-year winger from London. As Legg skated off the ice after practice, Berenson stopped him. “Intimidation was a major factor with him,” Legg says of the coach, who retired in 2017 after more than three decades on the bench. Berenson kept his hair military short, and Legg thought the coach was about to question him over his grooming habits. “Usually he was going to see if your hair was short enough, if you were presentable enough,” Legg says. Instead, the coach asked him:

“Is that legal?”

Legg, unsure of how to read the situation, mumbled. “Uh, yeah, I asked a ref about it, and it is.”

Berenson had never seen anything like Legg’s move before. “Well,” the expressionless coach said, “Why don’t you do it in a game?”

Legg breathed a sigh of relief — he had the blessings of an ex-player who once scored six goals in a single NHL game, though he still didn’t think the coach would approve of such a maneuver in a scenario as high stakes as the NCAA tournament. But down 2–1 to the University of Minnesota at the end of the second period in the Western Regional semifinal, Legg knew unless he swung the game’s momentum, the Wolverines’ season was over. When a defender dragged his teammate Johnny Madden down behind the net, Legg recognized his opening. In one motion, he pulled back on the puck, secured the leverage on his stick, and then threw it in the net.

For Legg, it was a relief to finally score with a move he’d long practiced, but at that moment, he was largely unfazed: “I was like, ‘It’s only 2–2. C’mon, we need to get going.’”

On the broadcast, though, there was a moment of pause. The announcers, along with everyone else watching, weren’t sure what had happened.

“It’s a goal. Michigan, finally, somehow, got it in the net to tie the game.”

“I don’t believe I saw what I think I just saw.”

That play not only changed the course of the game — Michigan ultimately defeated its regional rival and, after two more wins, would hoist Division I hockey championship’s trophy (the program’s first championship in decades) — it also charted its own history. The game had been broadcast nationally, and the move was soon seen around the world.

His stick went into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Inside Hockey, a Swedish magazine, flew him out to receive its Goal of the Year award (and a kiss from a former Miss Sweden). TSN declared Legg’s move the play of the year, and at the fifth annual ESPY awards, it received two nominations: Play of the Year (which it lost) and the Most Outrageous Play of the Year (which it won).

He put that image in my head of pulling it off. That’s what started it all.

In front of a star-studded audience that included Ray Charles and Muhammad Ali, ESPN persona Keith Olberman introduced the clip, telling the crowd, “Every year tens of thousands of plays are made by athletes in the heat of competition and then quickly forgotten, eclipsed by the next bit of action, but there are other moments, sights, sounds, emotions … that we will never forget.”

At the same time Legg was sucked into the sports media vortex, Armstrong was grinding out hours-long bus rides and playing in front of half-empty arenas as a member of several teams spread across the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League. Unlike Legg’s games at the University of Michigan, Armstrong’s games weren’t broadcast nationally, and though he had scored with the move a handful of times, most video footage — if it existed at all — ended up the by-product of highlights shows favored by the sleep deprived. If you didn’t see it live, you probably wouldn’t have known about it. Legg tried to deflect attention to the player he had long admired, but his highlight often overshadowed his words. Despite his best efforts to give Armstrong credit, Legg stood on the shoulders of an unknown giant.

“He’s it,” Legg says of Armstrong. “He’s the man.”

“He put that image in my head of pulling it off. That’s what started it all.”

***

A few years earlier, on a Monday night in February 1991, Bill Armstrong slipped a number 58 jersey over his head and stepped onto the ice at Philadelphia’s Spectrum arena. As an NHL rookie, even for a team that finished the 1991 season near the divisional cellar, Armstrong would never have tried the move in a game. He still needed clout. If he scored a goal in that fashion — creative and unconventional — at that time, he likely would never leave the bench again. He had mastered it, but the first step was lasting in the NHL — his puck flip could wait.

An undrafted prospect out of Western Michigan University, Armstrong was signed by Bobby Clarke, the team’s general manager and a Flyers legend. Armstrong says Clarke liked his soft hands and quick feet, not to mention he didn’t back down when challenged. Clarke admired that trait: After all, this was a man who, upon taking an errant slapshot to the face, scored his 1,000th NHL point with his jersey splattered with his own blood.

And though Armstrong made his NHL debut on the same ice where Clarke had led the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups, he wasn’t nervous. He knew he had worked his way there and he figured he was going to stick around. He would have more opportunities to try to score his goal, he thought.

The light bulb had first clicked on for Armstrong years earlier, when he tinkered with the puck during those summer hockey camps and, as athletic savants are wont to do, made an accidental discovery. When he flipped the puck into the net, he surprised even himself. In pick-up games, he would often do a similar move, where he would scoop up the puck, spin around, and throw it over his shoulder toward the net. It was an exciting play and would always catch the goalie by surprise, but it was also high-sticking. This was different. This is an actual legitimate play, he thought to himself. I can make this happen.

Armstrong had grown up playing ball hockey, which elevated his hand-eye coordination while honing his handling skills. He learned to corral the ball and gain control, and eventually, he mastered a variety of trick shots that were easily translated from practicing in his driveway to stepping onto the ice.

His first NHL game, however, wasn’t the right time to unveil the move. Instead, Armstrong registered his presence in the NHL with a wholly traditional maneuver. In the third period, with the game tied at 3, he used that Lemieux-like length to tip a centering pass to his linemate Scott Mellanby, who snuck the puck past goalie Ed Belfour for the go-ahead goal.

The coach implored him, ‘Any time you get around the net in a game, do that.’

The play seemed an auspicious start to Armstrong’s NHL career. One game, one point. But the Flyers had dismissed Clarke before the season, and even though Armstrong showed promise, the new GM wasn’t as enamored with the rookie’s game. Besides, there were a slew of new prospects to be developed in 1992. Armstrong wasn’t in the long-term plans.

“That killed me because I signed a three-year contract and [Clarke] liked me,” Armstrong says. He returned to the Flyers’s AHL affiliate in Hershey with renewed determination to make it back to the world’s top league.

He still hadn’t attempted to score his high-wrap goal at this point in his career, but with some NHL experience now on his resume, he felt confident, and by the 1994 season, when Armstrong joined the Albany River Rats of the AHL, he had racked up hours of ice time just working on the shot. He knew that once he got a chance, he’d be able to pull it off. Like Legg, Armstrong’s coach in Albany, Robbie Ftorek, noticed how seamlessly the player could flip the puck onto his stick and fling it into the net during practice.

“What was that?” Armstrong remembers Ftorek asking. Armstrong did it again.

The coach implored him, “Any time you get around the net in a game, do that.”

“He just said, ‘Do it,’” Armstrong recalls. Those two words were prophetic. A few games later, Armstrong scored with the move; and he did it again several days later. Once, on a weekend road trip years later, he scored it in back-to-back games. In total, he would score the goal five times while wearing a River Rat sweater. The crowd grew so familiar with the move that any time Armstrong got behind the net, they would start screaming “DO IT!” For a while, the move was simply known as the “do it.”

“You could hear the whole building getting into it,” Armstrong says. “ All you could hear was do it, do it, do it!”

Whenever someone complained about the goal — that it shouldn’t be legal, or that it defied tradition — Armstrong shrugged it off. “My job was to put the puck in the net,” he says. “I was never trying to show anybody up. If I go on a breakaway and I have a good shot, should I not use my shot because it’s so good or should I try and score because that’s my job? My job was to score. If you want to come after me, come after me.”

Armstrong posted three straight seasons of 30 or more goals. He thought, eventually, he might become a regular presence back in the NHL, especially following that 1994 season, in which he led Albany with 82 points in 74 games, but it didn’t work out that way. Whenever there was an injury, Armstrong was a convenient salve, added to the waiver wire only to languish in the press box or locker room waiting for another chance. He was ahead of his time, and as such, stuck on the outside looking in. He would never play another game in the NHL.

Armstrong was flummoxed. So was Legg.

“He was easily talented enough,” Legg says. “Like, there’s no question about it. It was just maybe the wrong setting. The wrong time.”

***

It’s just after 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning in November and the only sound in Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Center, home of the Senators, is the drone of a Zamboni. Save for a few members of the Carolina Hurricanes, who are waiting on the bench for the ice to be resurfaced, the arena is empty.

When the Zamboni slowly glides off the ice and down an arena tunnel, the players clamber over the boards, and soon the arena is alive with sound. Passes land blade to blade with a satisfying thud, shots ping out from the crossbar, the net whips back with each puck that sneaks by the goaltenders. During their drills, the players weave across the ice like birds in flight, a murmuration of hockey players. Broadcasters do their pregame hits in the empty lobby, still hours away from being flooded with fans for the evening’s game.

Svechnikov is one of the last players off the ice, which is usually the case. He likes to work on his puck control near the end of practice, flipping shots into the net, bouncing the puck on his stick like the blade is a trampoline, defying basic gravitational laws. Off the ice, he has a keen interest in magic, which makes sense, given his penchant for on ice wizardry. He’s more than a week removed from his historic goal now, but it’s still reverberating through the hockey world.

“Obviously, it’s something special to score that goal,” he says, as he peels off his equipment in the visiting locker room after practice. “There was space for me to do it and I was like, ‘Why shouldn’t I try it?’”

Svechnikov learned the move from his older brother Evgeny, who is currently in the Detroit Red Wings system. Andrei moved to the United States around the age of 16 and began playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League. His brother, who then played in the AHL for the Grand Rapids Griffins, was less than an hour away.

“I saw how he did it and I went to him and said ‘Bro, you have to teach me that move,’” Andrei says. “He would teach me after each practice. You have to teach that move for hours.”

The brothers are almost four years apart in age but close by every other conceivable measure. Andrei wears number 37 because that’s the number his big brother wears. They speak with each other every day. Like his younger brother, Evgeny makes his living in the offensive end, and while both brothers are prone to creating a highlight in an instant, only one, for now, is in the NHL record books. Evgeny couldn’t be happier about it. When Andrei scored the goal, his older brother was watching.

It’s going to stick with us for life.

“Once I saw, I was like ‘Holy moly, it’s crazy,’” Evgeny says, speaking from Grand Rapids after practice. “I was very pumped, shocked, excited, surprised. All of those emotions that you can have, I had it. I was proud of my little brother. It’s definitely special.”

Evgeny learned the move from watching Finnish player Mikael Granlund score a similar lacrosse-style goal against Russia during the semifinals of the 2011 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Granlund first saw the move watching highlights of Legg.

“I saw Granlund score it and I said ‘Oh my God, I want to score that one day’ and ever since I saw it I just wanted to practice it,” Evgeny says. When Andrei moved to Muskegon, the brothers had the chance to work on it together, meeting up after their respective practices to put in more work.

“I was telling him about that move. I was doing it a lot,” Evgeny says. “We skated together, I was showing him and he was like ‘Yeah, I really like it,’ and I was like ‘Yeah man, try that always.’”

Andrei listened. About two months after making history with the first lacrosse-style goal, he scored another one, this time against the Winnipeg Jets. The goalie even saw it coming this time, but there was nothing he could do to stop it. The magician had struck again.

“It’s going to stick with us for life,” Evgeny says of his brother’s historic accomplishment. “I’m really proud of him.”

***

Armstrong was a goal scorer. He was shuffled in and out of lineups, called up and sent down, traded to different teams with different coaches and different systems, and none of it mattered. He put the puck in the net everywhere he went — until he ended up with the Grand Rapids Griffins for the 1997 season. He didn’t mesh with the coach, and after scoring 38 goals the previous season, he only scored once in 35 games with the IHL franchise. He spent much of his time stuck to the bench. “I was a healthy scratch,” he says. “I wanted out of there.”

Halfway through the season, he got his wish. He was traded to the Orlando Solar Bears, whose owners also ran the NBA’s Orlando Magic, and found his groove again. “That was the best thing that could have happened,” he says. “I went down to Orlando and went, ‘Wow, I want to play 20 more years here.’”

Armstrong would score two more high-wrap goals in Orlando, bringing his career total to eight, but disaster struck before he’d field another NHL call-up. Following a check on an opposing player, the player stalked Armstrong and hit him in the face with the butt end of his stick. Armstrong was knocked unconscious. It resulted in a concussion, which led to a CT scan, which led to an MRI, which led to the discovery of a brain tumor. There’s never a good time to make a discovery like this, but for Armstrong, it ended any chance he had to show the world his goal.

When he was diagnosed, he says his agent — determined to showcase Armstrong’s skill set on a global stage — had already begun talks with David Letterman’s late-night show so that his client could demonstrate the goal. “Things would have been different if Letterman had worked out,” Armstrong claims. But once he learned about the tumor — doctors thought it might be malignant — his health concerns quickly took precedence.

Armstrong was 31 years old and had an 8-month-old daughter to worry about. His future was more important than a game. “It was scary. It was a really tough time,” he says. When Armstrong went under the knife, though, the tumor was found to be benign. “It was unbelievable,” he says of the quick reversal of fortune. The whole thing was a whirlwind, but the surgery effectively ended his career.

“The doctor said there’s such a space now between your brain and skull that one hit would be like 100 concussions. He said ‘You can’t go back and play,’ so I was forced to retire,” Armstrong says.

At that point, Armstrong hadn’t given much thought to his post-hockey future. “I just wanted something that I was in control of,” he says. “With my own scheduling.” He found it in real estate.

Currently, Armstrong works as a realtor in the London area. He says he carries no bitterness or remorse about how his hockey career went. He played nine years of professional hockey and even assisted on an NHL goal — which is more than most can say. “Would I have liked to have played more in the NHL? Of course I would have,” he says. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but I have no regrets.”

Instead, he has memories.

His helmet is still plastered with the original Cincinnati Cyclones logo — he played 42 games for the team, whose design (an anthropomorphic angry cyclone named Twister) was often ridiculed as the worst logo in sports. He still has his gloves from the Solar Bears, his name stitched above an empty cuff, which he claims was left blank when the sponsor failed to pay their licensing fee. And he still has his goal, the move etched into his muscle memory, and the knowledge that he was the first to ever do it in North American professional hockey. He wishes that the record was set straight more often, but he is happy knowing his family and friends know the true origin story. And when it comes up in conversation, he’s quick with a correction.

“For me, it’s like, if you’re going to put a name on something, you have to name it after the person that did it,” he says. “It’s like taking a Picasso and saying that’s a Legg. No, it’s not, it’s a Picasso.”

***

On an otherwise grey wintry November afternoon, there’s a thin band of light on the horizon of Lake Huron. Snow blows across the roads in whistling gusts. From the ditch, a coyote watches the local traffic — an old pickup truck, a slightly newer pickup truck — rumble past, before loping off into a snow-covered cornfield.

This part of Ontario is known for its open land, its sunsets, and coastline. In Zurich, with a population of just a few hundred, the village is dotted with the familiar buildings of small towns across Canada. There’s a church, a liquor store, a Tim Horton’s and a hockey arena.

Inside that arena, there is a man alone out on the ice. He’s zipping behind the net, scooping the puck up onto his stick, bouncing it into the air, throwing it over his shoulder. He’s moving around the net, again and again, faster and faster. You can hear his skate blades cutting into the ice. You can hear the wooden blade of his stick tapping the puck, directing it one way, then another.

At the edge of the rink, a door creaks open. Another man walks into the building, a tattered hockey bag slung over his shoulder. He shouts hello and the man on the ice raises his stick in acknowledgment. Then more men arrive. A few minutes later, they are all out on the ice.

“We’re not worth taking photos of,” one of the men tells a reporter standing nearby, before stepping onto the gleaming sheet. As much as this appears to be the case, as the players warm up in lazy, looping laps and appear uniform in the seriousness with which they are approaching this game (not very), it isn’t true.

A new era beckons in hockey, marked by creativity and skill and speed and freedom for the players. Hours before Svechnikov scored his goal last October, Nils Höglander, a 19-year-old Vancouver Canucks prospect currently playing in the Swedish Hockey League for Rögle BK, also scored a lacrosse goal, and maybe the best one yet.

At 5’8”, Höglander is blisteringly fast, and while he is a bit undersized by NHL standards, he is also 183 pounds of muscle. Before games, to hone in on his control, he indulges in training exercises like riding a unicycle while stick handling or juggling. Höglander, like Svechnikov, is part of the new generation of hockey, their games rooted in speed and skill instead of brawn.

Höglander doesn’t remember the first time he saw a lacrosse-style goal in ice hockey, but he says it’s a popular move in Sweden for floorball players, one of the country’s most popular sports.

“When I was young, I had fun with a floorball stick and just did the lacrosse move,” he says, speaking before practice from Ängelholm, a small city on the southeastern Swedish coast.

“I just practiced it a little bit. I tried to have fun with it. I tried it in the game and I scored, so it was good.” In Sweden, the move is known as Zorro, a nod to the fictional sword-wielding character. Höglander has Zorro-ed twice in the SHL, and in December, during the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, he notched another. In January, Filip Forsberg, a forward with the Nashville Predators, became the second NHL player to score the goal. Before coronavirus put the season on hold, almost every week, another rising NHL star took a shot at the shot. Most missed, but even the misses make the highlights.

In the village of Zurich, Ontario, out there on the ice, there is a player who is part of that story, who once made a living scoring goals that no one had ever seen before.

Out there on the ice, in this small arena, in this small town, there is someone worth taking photos of.

His name is Bill Armstrong, and he is the original author of one of hockey’s greatest goals.

***

Sam Riches is a writer and journalist based in Toronto.

***

Editor and fact checker: Matt Giles

Copy editor: Jacob Z. Gross