Thu Dec 30 11:59am EST
Before we get to the countdown, a clarification: These are not the most significant goals of 2010.
Nothing tops Sidney Crosby's(notes) OT Golden Goal in the Vancouver Olympics. Or Patrick Kane's(notes) stunning, crowd-silencing OT game-winner to capture the Stanley Cup for the Chicago Blackhawks. Or John Carlson's(notes) OT winner to give the Americans the World Junior Championship.
No ... these are simply the 10 nastiest, inventive, awe-inspiring tallies from the last year, culled from around the hockey world. Some are from the NHL. Some are from the minor leagues. Others are international. Some were in the shootout. Others came during unpredictable moments of 5-on-5 hockey.
Coming up, the Top 10 Greatest Goals of 2010. Please complain about the snubs in our comments section.
Yes, we understand the irony in having a tie from a skills competition invented to get rid of ties ...
On Jan. 17 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks, Datsyuk unleashed another one of his signature shootout moves to baffle Antti Niemi(notes) with a soft floater. (Of course, one could argue it's also Linus Omark's signature move.) Bertuzzi's goal was exceptional for featuring (a) an unlikely spin-o-rama candidate and (b) the mocking snow spray at the end for an exclamation point. Two classic goals in the same shootout.
While this shorthanded goal against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 8 was dazzling on its own, the context was key: This was Eberle's first NHL goal in his first NHL game, scored on a night when the hockey world was tuning in to see NHL Draft No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall(notes) make his debut.
We have to give extra credit here for the goal inspiring a comedy bit between TSN and the Oilers, as they "bemoaned" Eberle's sudden celebrity status. Said Hall, tongue-in-cheek: "My first game, and all I have is a memory of Jordan Eberle going down and shooting the puck in the net."
8. Alexander Burmistrov, Atlanta Thrashers
To really appreciate this Alexander Burmistrov goal for the Atlanta Thrashers, the fifth tally in their 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals on Nov. 19, check out the behind-the-net camera angle on the replay. He fakes defenseman Jeff Schultz(notes) out of his skates and then baffles goalie Michal Neuvirth(notes) for one of the best individual efforts of the season. Mighty bit of a patience there from a rookie.
7. Travis Walsh, Muskegon Lumberjacks
The 17-year-old defenseman in the USHL unleashed this shootout trick against Cedar Rapids on Dec. 4, later saying in an interview: "I didn't have the move planned, but for some reason I got an urge to do it ... I came up with it five years ago when I was messing around with pucks on an outdoor rink. I didn't really think I was going to do it until right before I did it. It ended up working out well."
Ribeiro is one of the most creative shooters in the NHL, and this was no exception. On Feb. 11 against the Calgary Flames, Ribeiro collected a rebound from behind the goal line and shot the puck between his legs to score an amazing goal.
By far, Ribeiro's best-looking shot of the season. Especially in comparison to this one.
5. Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs
On Oct. 28 in an OHL game against the Plymouth Whalers, Ryan Strome scored this beauty that featured two of the best moves of the season: His backhand self-pass through the legs to deke the defenseman and then that nifty short-side shot to find a way to beat the goalie.
4. Oscar Milton, Sweden
Oscar Milton, a 17-year-old center for Almtuna J20 in Sweden, scored this incredibly inventive goal in which he used the back of the goaltender's mask to bank a puck into the net. As we wrote when first posting it: "We imagine this is the waking nightmare of every goalie that thinks they have all of their angles covered. That's because you can close a 5-hole, you can dive across an empty night, but only chaos theory can stop a puck off the back of the noggin."
(Our only caveat on this one is that there's no timestamp on when the game was played. The footage hit YouTube in 2010, and it says "goal of the season," so we assume this is a 2010 goal. If not, it became well-known in 2010.)
Already a YouTube legend for scoring a lacrosse-style goal in a shootout competition, Schremp showed the world he's a multi-sport athlete with this baseball catch-and-swing shot against the Colorado Avalanche. The goal was initially waved off by the referee but it was confirmed via video review that Schremp didn't use a high stick. Take another look here.
What's the next sport-inspired shot for Schremp? Big Bertha driver from the slot? Scoring with a fencing thrust?
2. Victoria Salmon Kings
One of the greatest team-effort goals in recent memory. Against the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors, Scott Howes of the Salmon Kings turned a defenseman inside out, passed to Dirk Southern for another dangle around a D-man, then back to Howes and then over to Adam Taylor(notes) for the finish. It was named the top play of the year by Sportsnet.
No word on the fate of the jock straps left on the ice by Condors players after they were faked out of them ...
And finally ...
Sure, go ahead, complain that it's an Oct. 4 preseason AHL game against the Hamilton Bulldogs and thus shouldn't count for this list. The doesn't change the fact that the 22-year-old Latvian winger put the nose of his blade on top of the puck and skated into the offensive zone, before performing a 360-degree spin-o-rama to score past Bulldogs goalie Robert Mayer(notes), a Montreal Canadiens prospect.
Here's another view:
In a year full of inventive, creative and stunning goals, this one takes top prize. Not only because it was ridiculous, but because it took on mythic qualities since the game wasn't televised; fan-shot video online sparked interest in the goal, which went on to become a sensation. It was like Bigfoot footage, if Bigfoot were a shootout goal.