What is a ‘Michigan’ goal? Explaining hockey’s highlight reel lacrosse-style move

The Michigan move has taken the hockey world by storm. From the NHL to the youth levels, everyone is trying to pull off one of the hardest and most impressive moves in the game. 

With the NHL shifting its game to a faster, more skilled style, the Michigan move has frequented the NHL scene. Multiple players have tried it and a few have even pulled it off. 

The most recent example came courtesy of Blue Jackets rookie Kent Johnson. The No. 5 pick in the 2021 draft pulled off his first Michigan goal on the 27-year anniversary of the first Michigan goal being scored. 

It’s not the first time Johnson has pulled off the slick move. The 20-year-old, who happens to be a product of the University of Michigan, did it last summer with Team Canada at the 2022 World Juniors. It also most certainly will not be the last time we see the impressive move accomplished at the NHL level. 

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But why is it called the Michigan and who pulled it off first? The Sporting News has you covered on the origin of the deke. 

What is a Michigan goal in hockey?

A Michigan goal in hockey is a lacrosse-style goal scored by a player who is standing behind the net. 

A skater will scoop the puck onto the blade of their stick, and then with the puck still on the blade, whip the stick around the net and try to tuck the puck in a top corner over a goalie’s shoulder. 

The move has evolved over the years. Originally, players would only try the move while standing still. Now, players in the NHL have so much skill, they are able to pull off the move while skating around the net, giving netminders and defenders less time to react. 

Why is it called the Michigan?

While the Michigan has only just made its way to the NHL in recent years, the origin of the move actually dates back to the ’90s. 

Mike Legg, a forward at the University of Michigan, completed the scoop-and-score goal during a game in 1996. He picked up the puck with the blade of his stick and while the puck was still on the blade, he whipped his twig around the net and slung the puck into the goal. 

Since then, it’s been dubbed “the Michigan” due to the school Legg played for. It was a move that was not attempted in the NHL back during those times, as a player likely would’ve been crushed by a hit.

Michigan goals in the NHL

With the NHL becoming filled more with skill and finesse, we’ve seen it pulled off successfully a number of times.

Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov was the first player to get it done, with the goal coming in 2019 against the Flames. He did it again later that season, this time coming against the Jets. 

Predators forward Filip Forsberg was the second player to complete the Michigan in an NHL game. During the same season as Svechnikov’s pair of highlights, Forsberg pulled it off against the Ducks. 

Ducks forward Trevor Zegras has wasted no time pulling out his bag of tricks in the NHL. He completed it twice as a rookie during the 2021-22 season and did it again this year, but the goal was called back since the play was offside. 

Zegras and Sonny Milano also combined for what has been dubbed the Michigan assist. Zegras was behind the net, put the puck up on his stick and tossed it over the net to Milano, who whacked it out of mid-air and into the net. 

Johnson is the most recent player to pull it off, doing so in his first full season in the NHL. 

Source : ESPN.com

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