How The “Michigan” Goal Changed Hockey Forever
On Today, March 24 2022, Exactly 26 years later, we can remember arguably the most famous goal in all of Michigan hockey history. This goal is a monumental goal not just for the University of Michigan, but also for Michigan State University, the state of Michigan, and the game of hockey in general. The goal that was scored on this day 26 years ago etched Michigan hockey into the record books and transformed the way offense is played today.
Before the 21st century hockey was a game of brute force, a game that was about being stronger and simply outworking your opponent. Some of the offensive showings we see in todays NHL and other hockey leagues would surely lead to bench clearing brawls or worse in the 90s and before. Mike Legg would be the beginning of what some say is a well needed change to the game of hockey, that has brought us the excitement we see today.
In route to a National Championship this Michigan Men's hockey team witnessed an event that would go on to influence generations of hockey players to come. They were in the regional semifinals with a spot in the frozen four on the line, facing a familiar opponent, The Minnesota Gophers. They traveled the short hour or so drive up to Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, giving Michigan State University a stake in this memory as well.
Power Play Perfection
Like every other hockey game at the time, Munn Arena was packed with screaming fans from both Michigan and Minnesota, hoping to help will their team to victory. They had enjoyed a very competitive up to this point and were all unaware the hockey universe was about to be flipped on its head. With roughly 9 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, the gophers are leading 2-1 when they commit a penalty and put the Wolverines on the power play.
The Gophers were doing a solid job at killing the penalty, but couldn't get the puck out of their zone. With under 30 seconds remaining in the penalty, Michigan forward John Madden carried the puck behind the net when he was taken down by Brian Lafleur and no signal for a delayed penalty, leaving the puck on the stick of Mike Legg. He settled the puck on the top of his blade, brought it knee high, skated to the front of the net, and stuffed top side, above the goalies shoulder.
His teammates that were currently on the ice with him, showered him with hugs while he was trying to get to the bench to shake the rest of his teammates hands. His coaches were excited to have the game tied, with momentum, and a chance to build off that closing out the 2nd and entering the 3rd. The crowd, as we all expected, was not only in complete shock but had two different reactions. First the Michigan fans, were jumping, hooting, hollering, and every other means of cheering as they just witnessed greatness.
Meanwhile, the look on the faces of the Gophers spelled it all, the players on the ice and the bench were full of disbelief and almost defeat. That was what they felt was embarrassing. The fans couldn't believe the game was tied again, must have felt like something he did was against the rules, and were concerned that they would be driving home with their team following them instead of heading to Cincinnati for the Frozen Four.
Following that game, Michigan would go on to win the National Championship beating Boston University 4-0 and then defeating Colorado College 3-2 in overtime. For the remainder of his time playing hockey, Mike Legg was singled out for his skillful offensive play and if tried to show out again, was often met with aggression and fighting.
Meanwhile, there is a lasting impact on the game of hockey. From house leagues, to high school leagues, and even the pros everyone is trying to replicate the magic of Mike Legg. We have seen many pull it off and many fail, but every time someone tries the state of Michigan gets a boost. The Video of Mike Legg wearing the beautiful Maize and Blue inside of Munn Arena circles the internet every time someone tries. This is how one goal changed hockey forever.