Creation No. 0017
I am a bender. I am a hack. I am not a very good hockey player. I am a 41-year-old beer leaguer who still skates every Wednesday night at the less-than-prime-time slot of 9:50 to 10:50 P.M.
But I score. A lot.
Well, I score a lot for someone of my skill level. I’m not saying I’m Dino Ciccarelli, but the following quotes routinely come out of my mouth on Wednesday nights:
“They all count.”
“No one asks how—just how many.”
Yes, I’m the guy always looking for the greasy one. I actually encourage my teammates NOT to pass to me because I’d prefer they shoot and I scarf up the table scraps. You know in college when someone showed you that trick to make the excess foamy head on your beer go down by rubbing your nose grease and sticking your finger inside the glass. That’s basically how I play hockey. I’m dirty, I’m buttery, and I live and die by the garbage goal.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Well, when you truly love the garbage goal like I do, there’s no such thing as trash. But there are treasures. In no particular order (I LOVE them all!), here’s a run-down of my top 10 favorite types of garbage goals:
Hockey's equivalent of the 65-yard touchdown pass with time expiring is The Hail Mario. This garbage goal is scored when a player flips or shoots the puck from center ice or farther away. Inexplicably, the puck either grows eyes and takes a magical bounce into the net or catches a goalie off guard for a goal. Bonus points if you’re already sitting on the bench before realizing you’ve scored.
Let's be honest, this garbage goal is the king of the heap. There really is nothing better than The Tap-In. You know the play: Someone on your team shoots a good shot, the goalie makes a partial save only to lose sight of the puck, leaving it sitting on the ice unattended (usually behind the goalie and right on the goal line). You see it and swat it over the line. What makes this garbage goal so special is that not only are you stealing from the goalie, but you're also stealing from your teammate because you vulture a tally away while exuding minimal effort. What's not to like!?
Nothing prettier than a golden apple sitting in the blue paint
A fan favorite, The Knuckle-Puck is anytime you don't get good wood on a shot and catch the goalie off guard. Maybe the puck was on its end, or maybe you just aren't very good at shooting or hockey in general. Regardless, in this scenario the garbage goal occurs because the goalie lines up for a normal shot, but the puck comes at him deceptively off-speed or fluttering, messing up their timing and creating a goal. Any garbage goal that forces the shooter to say the beautiful words "I'll take it" as he heads to the bench after scoring has to crack our top 10.
Less common but equally gorgeous is the garbage goal that is scored when a player does everything (usually tons and tons of unnecessary stick handling) but shoot the puck. What occurs with The Grim Sweeper goal has more in common with curling and shuffleboard than it does actual hockey because the puck just slides into the net without ever actually being shot. Usually the by-product of a busted breakaway attempt, this garbage goal is scored on continuation as the goalie is setting up for a shot not expecting it will never come, and the puck will just slide past him and into the net. The Grim Sweeper is similar to “the dead arm" breakaway shot made popular by Peter Forsberg—only let’s be honest it's more of “the dead everything," because to be successful, the shooter has to both lose the puck and fail to get a shot off. It's only forward momentum and deception that get the job done here. The Grim Sweeper is so ghastly, so ghoulish that its phantom like qualities have left more than one netminder shaking his head and muttering "I see dead people" from the crease.
Anything that goes off your shin, foot, torso, even your head is a delicious garbage goal, of course. Actually I'm surprised these no-hands goals aren't celebrated more. Scoring a garbage goal without using your hands is like doing a body shot of alcohol while on Spring Break. It’s super-sexy.
Another absolute gem is The Doggy Bag. This is the garbage goal in beer league when you have a 2-on-0 break, and rather than risk passing to you, the other guy sprints ahead, does all the work taking a nice shot, which the goalie saves, and you just harmlessly follow the play and put in the rebound. It's the hockey version of being at a restaurant and asking your buddy, "You gonna eat your pickle?—And it tastes just as delicious.”
Like playing slop in billiards or constantly spinning your guys in foosball, The Sloppy Joe is when you inadvertently score while trying to make a pass, or you’re aiming a completely different spot than you end up putting the puck in the net. One of the unique benefits of The Sloppy Joe garbage goal is that only you know when you’ve scored one. It becomes a beautiful secret for you to bury deep inside your soul.
A staple, The Scrumdillyicious is when the crease is jam-packed with players and a laid-out goalie, it’s complete chaos, the puck somehow finds its way into the net with lots of help, and you’re just the first one to raise your hands and take credit for the garbage goal. And why wouldn’t you? Scoring is fun.
Another beauty, The Extra Whack needs no explanation. One of my favorite things to do when scoring a garbage goal that requires a few extra whacks at a goaltender is to apologize: “Sorry, I didn’t hear the whistle.” That always goes over well at beer league where there are no refs. And before you start feeling sorry for the goalies, please remember goalies serve one purpose: to deprive us of joy. So it makes sense to take liberties from time to time.
Any garbage goal scored off the other team’s sticks or bodies is a work of art, because it’s doubly deflating for your opponent not only to get scored on, but to have been an unwilling accomplice to a greasy goal for your team. When you consider The Friendly Fire is the only garbage goal you don’t truly score yourself (you’re just the closest person from the other team), it’s hard not to hold a special place in your heart for this one.