Tomas Soustal had never once tried the move in practise. But in a game situation, his unexpected sleight of hand worked to perfection.
The Czech-born forward scored what may well be the highlight goal of the season in the WHL, as his Kelowna Rockets took down the Edmonton Oil Kings 6-1 on Friday night at Prospera Place.
Early in the second period, from behind the Edmonton net, Soustal picked up the puck on his stick, then lifted it lacrosse-style past Oil Kings’ goaltender Payton Lee—much to the amazement of 5,381 fans, as well as players and coaches on both sides of the ice.
“I never practised before this, I just saw this before me, so I just rip it and it went in,” said Soustal, who scored twice in the Kelowna victory. “It was huge for me, and hopefully it was good for (the) fans.
“It was kind of lucky, but it counts, eh.”
Rockets head coach Brad Ralph counts himself among the many at Friday’s game who was impressed by Soustal’s skill and spontaneous creativity.
“I’ve never seen a goal like that in person, they’re pretty rare, right,” Ralph said. “It was funny, you could kind of see the light bulb went off in his head before he even pulled the move off, but I mean it was amazing.”
“To have the foresight to even try that move and to pull it off, you know it’s a testament to his skill.”
Tyson Baillie, who opened the scoring just 1:43 into the first period, paced the Rockets with a goal and two assists.
Rodney Southam, Devante Stephens and Tate Couglin, with his first of the season, also scored for the Rockets who chased Oil Kings starter Payton Lee in the second period, scoring four goals on their first 12 shots.
It was the Rockets’ seventh win in eight games and another sign for Ralph that his team is hitting its stride.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Ralph said,”we’re learning what it takes for the course of 60 minutes and I think if we can continue to focus on those details, we’ll continue to have games like this.”
Luke Bertolucci scored the lone goal for the Oil Kings, who outshot Kelowna 30-25.
Michael Herringer stopped 29 shots in the Rockets net to earn his fifth win of the season.
The Rockets (16-5-1-0) will host the Vancouver Giants Saturday night at Prospera Place. Face off is 7:05 p.m.