PRINCETON, N.J. – Mike Smith had a memorable night on Saturday.
Making his third professional start, Smith picked up not only his first win and his first shutout, but also scored his first-ever goal in Lexington’s 2-0 win over defending Northern Conference Champion Dayton. It was also the inaugural home win for the Men O’ War in Rupp Arena.
With Lexington leading 1-0 late in the third period, Dayton dumped the puck behind the net where Smith gained control and flipped it out of the zone. The puck hit in the center face off circle and then slid untouched into the empty net at 19:04.
“I got the dump in and looked up. I realized that I had plenty of time and just fired it down the ice,” said Smith, who made 21 saves and kept Dayton scoreless on five power-play attempts. “It was pretty funny because before the game we (the team) talked about whether or not I had ever done it or even tried. I had dreamed of scoring a goal when I was growing up, and I just can’t believe I have done it. It’s a great feeling.”
The 20-year-old Smith is the believed to be the youngest goaltender ever to score a goal in a professional game. He becomes the sixth goaltender in East Coast Hockey League history to score a goal and the first since Toledo’s Mark Bernard on March 27, 2001 against Johnstown.
The 6-3 and 195-pound Smith is on assignment to Lexington by the Dallas Stars, who are the National Hockey League affiliate of the Men O’ War. Dallas selected Smith in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2001 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The native of Verona, Ontario is 1-1-1 and ranks second in the ECHL with a .942 save percentage and is sixth in the ECHL with a 1.95 goals against average.
Corwin Saurdiff of Hampton Roads became the first ECHL goaltender to score a goal, accomplishing the feat during the 1994-95 season, and Charlotte’s Nick Vitucci, Erie’s Olie Sundstrom and South Carolina’s Sean Gauthier all accomplished the feat during the 1995-96 season.
Seven goaltenders in the National Hockey League have scored a goal, the last being San Jose’s Evgeny Nabokov on March 10, 2002 at Vancouver. Six goaltenders in the American Hockey League have scored a goal, the last being Milwaukee’s Chris Mason on October 15, 2001 at Utah.
The first professional goaltender ever to score a goal was Michel Plasse of the Kansas City Blues in the Central Hockey League on February 21, 1971 against Oklahoma City. The first NHL goaltender to shoot and score a goal was Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers on December 8, 1987 against Boston.