It's one thing to score with your own hockey stick. It's quite another to put the puck in the net by using your opponent's lumber.
Dylan Strome's second goal in the Erie Otters' 5-1 win over London on Wednesday night came in a most unusual fashion. He used the stick of Knights defenceman Brandon Crawley to score after both players lost their sticks earlier in the play.
It was easily the strangest goal of Strome's junior hockey career.
"That's the craziest, for sure," Strome said Thursday from Erie, Pa. "I was telling some of the guys, that'll never happen again."
Midway through the third period, Crawley lost his stick after a collision with Strome in the London zone. Crawley followed Strome in front of the net and stripped the Erie star of his stick.
A frustrated Strome extended his arms out as if a call should have been made, but the referee â€” who was stationed behind the net â€” was looking at the play in the corner at the time. The play moved across to the other faceoff circle and Strome picked up Crawley's stick, worked a give-and-go with teammate Taylor Raddysh and put the puck past London goalie Tyler Johnson.
"I just figured, 'I've got to keep playing here,' " Strome said. "I saw his stick on the ice and I just grabbed it."
Normally a player might return to his bench to get a replacement stick. But the play was at the other end of the ice at the Erie Insurance Arena, forcing Strome to get creative.
"It was really awkward, it was a different kind of stick too," he said. "It had a different grip, different everything. I was just in the moment. I knew it was pretty long. If you see the shot, it was not the greatest shot. It was right along the ice.
"I think the goalie thought I was going to shoot it high and it just went along the ice."
Strome raised the stick high in the air after scoring as he celebrated with teammates.
"It was kind of a different feeling because I was kind of mad because he took my stick," he said. "It would be different if both of our sticks were on the ice and I picked up his and he picked up mine. But he ripped it out of my hands so I got pretty angry.
"It worked out pretty well."
Strome high-fived the rest of the players on the Erie bench before going to the London bench to exchange sticks with Crawley. The play was featured prominently on sports highlight packages across the continent, including ESPN in the United States.
Strome, who has 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists) in 20 games this season, served as captain of the Canadian team that won silver at the world junior hockey championship last month in Montreal.
The win gave the first-place Otters a four-point lead on London in the OHL's Western Conference standings. The Knights are tied with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for second with 79 points.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press