Earlier this season, Buffalo Sabres prospect Vasily Glotov informed his coaches he planned to utilize his slick talents to score a tricky lacrosse-style goal.
Having successfully pulled it off once last season in junior hockey, the affable Glotov, 21, possessed the confidence he could do it again as an ECHL rookie with the Cincinnati Cyclones.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this one day,’ ” said Glotov, who lived up to his words Friday, lifting the puck behind the net and quickly whipping his stick around to score the winner with 50 seconds left in regulation against the Toledo Walleye.
With the game tied 1-1 – “I don’t know the clock, I don’t know the score,” he said of his mindset as the play started – the Russian winger pounced on his opportunity.
“I got confidence at this point,” Glotov said. “Sometimes in a game you’re feeling it, and I was like, ‘OK, I’m doing this right now.’ I knew I’m going to do this and I knew it was going to go in somehow.”
After Glotov grabbed defenseman Arvin Atwal’s pass in the right corner, none of the Walleye defenders pursued him behind the net, giving him precious time and space.
“So I lifted my stick, which is probably the hardest part,” Glotov said. “Sometimes there’s snow or your tape is not well conditioned.”
Then one quick, fluid motion, Glotov picked up the puck off the ice and stuffed it over goalie Pat Nagle’s right shoulder.
“Totally high risk,” Cyclones coach Matt Thomas said of Glotov’s nifty move. “Fifty seconds left … and you’re going to have the presence of mind to think that might be something that will work, really shows how confident somebody has to be in themselves to do that.”
When the puck went in, Glotov said he “absolutely freaked out.”
Not only had he scored a highlight-reel goal, it put the Cyclones up late over their fiercest rival.
“I was like crazy excited,” Glotov said. “I didn’t know what to do. I was like blacked out, basically.
“My (celebration) was more wild because of (scoring the winner), not because of the goal.”
On the bench, Thomas’ jaw dropped.
“It was one of those ones, ‘Did that just really happen?’ ” said Thomas, who added that the Cyclones devote the first 30 minutes of practices to skill development.
The excitement overwhelmed Glotov so much he zoomed by teammate Eric Knodel and took off down the ice.
Lacrosse-style hockey goals, of course, are incredibly rare. The most famous one, Mike Legg’s goal for Michigan in 1996, inspired Glotov. He has practiced the fundamental parts of the move for years, trying to emulate Legg, but quicker.
The 5-foot-11, 174-pound Glotov said he had made a few attempts to lift the puck behind the net during games earlier this year.
Last season, his second and final in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Glotov tried it a few times with the Shawinigan Cataractes.
“Every time I tried it, the puck didn’t lift or (I) lifted the puck and lost it halfway through,” he said.
Finally, Glotov scored one in Baie-Comeau. He figured the video of the goal would go viral.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is going to go wild,’ ” he said.
Then Glotov texted his father, who watches every game, and found out there was no video feed that day. One of Shawinigan’s coaches sent Glotov a high angle shot of the goal.
Video of Friday’s goal quickly spread on the internet.
“I just wanted to try it out,” Glotov said of the move. “It worked out perfectly.”
His dynamic skill has wowed crowds at development camps since the Sabres drafted him in 2016. Despite being a seventh-round pick from a past regime, the Sabres awarded him an AHL contract.
Glotov has earned ECHL All-Star honors and scored 11 goals and 33 points in 47 games as a rookie.
So what’s holding Glotov back from playing in the American Hockey League on a regular basis?
Thomas said Glotov, who has played two games with the Rochester Americans, must get stronger.
“You can tell he’s a late bloomer in terms of physically maturing,” Thomas said. “I think … in our league as well, if he gets stronger, it could be scary how good good he will be.”