'Round these parts, we simply like to call it "The Goal."
A Sunday afternoon junior A hockey game in Langley usually isn't cause for buzz across North America, but thanks to Langley Rivermen rookie Austin Azurdia, its final play has taken on a life of its own.
For the ever-dwindling number of you who have yet to see the goal on YouTube, Azurdia collected a pass as he skated into neutral ice with the score tied at 3-3 and time winding down in the third period. Once he entered the Prince George zone, Azurdia executed a crafty toe drag deke on Prince George Spruce Kings defence-man Mitch Eden before slipping the puck through the defender. Azurdia then promptly roofed the puck, top shelf, over the shoulder of goaltender Kirk Thompson.
What made the goal even more dramatic is when it was scored - with .03 seconds left on the clock. Azurdia's sixth of the season lifted the 'Men to a 4-3 victory at the Langley Events Centre on Oct. 7.
Since then: . Azurdia's Twitter account grew to more than 400 followers in just a few days after the goal was scored.
. You can find the goal on YouTube. Punch in "Austin Azurdia" on the video sharing site's search engine to add to the 90,000-plus views of the play;
. The video was on Global News at noon and 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 8;
. TSN showed it on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. that night;
. Host Geno Reda showed it on TSN's That's Hockey;
. SI.com had it as the sports video of the day; and
. Sean Leahy wrote about the goal for Yahoo and Puck Daddy.
Azurdia gave his own take on the most memorable goal of his hockey career, thus far.
"[Defenceman] Bo [Pellah] came out and hit me right in stride with a great pass," Azurdia recalled. "I came down and I knew I didn't have much time, so I figured, 'Why not try to make a move?' If I messed up it wasn't going the other way. I just looked up and the first thing I saw was the top shelf so I just kinda went for it, and it ended up working out."
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said Azurdia is likely pretty tired of describing "The Goal."
"He's a pretty modest kid," Henderson said.
"It's one goal and you try to move on past it," Azurdia offered. "But it's a nice goal, so."
Since Oct. 7 Azurdia has recorded a goal and two assists in the past three Rivermen games - a loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs and back-to-back defeats at the hands of the West Kelowna Warriors.
And while his team has struggled of late, the 19-year-old from Wenatchee, Wash. has steadily piled up points for his new team - he's tied with Mario Puskarich for the team lead in points with 12, and leads all Langley goal-scorers with seven tallies.
"You don't have to score every night," Azurdia said. "I wouldn't say I'm a goal-scorer. I'd say I'm more offensively rounded. I like to pass the puck a lot and I like to score, too
Henderson says Azurdia has made a smooth transition from the Dallas Ice Jets midget program in Texas.
"We expected him to produce, but to be honest with you, I thought it would take until about Christmastime," Henderson said. "His learning curve has been pretty steep so it's been a nice surprise for us."
Azurdia never expected to get off to such a quick start but was too quick to give a big assist to his linemates.
"I was with [Trevor] Cope and Robbie [James Robinson] and it was going great but now I'm with [Ben] Butcher and [Evan] Campbell and that's a great line, too," Azurdia said. "They're just high calibre players, really."
The most important thing for Azurdia is to help the Rivermen get back to their winning ways, starting with Friday's home game against those same Prince George Spruce Kings at the LEC.
The Rivermen are 5-5-0-1 going into the weekend, which includes a Saturday date at the LEC with the Vernon Vipers.
"We're a young team," Azurdia said. "It's early and you're going to find your bumps and bruises throughout the season. I think we're hitting a rough spot right now but I think we're going to come together as a team. I think we've had great individual efforts from a lot of guys but once everybody steps in, I think it's going to be scary, honestly. Once we get that chemistry, the sky's the limit."
On an individual front, Azurdia has netted an NCAA scholarship with the University of Connecticut, starting next fall. Time will tell if he'll parlay his time at UConn into a pro hockey career.
"I come from a family where my dad's a bit of an educator, so I've always known that education is very important," Azurdia said. "I want to get my education but I'm not ruling out the possibility [of going the professional route]. I'd love to go pro.
I mean, what kid wouldn't want to go pro and do the thing you love?"
A scholarship secured, the real work has started, Azurdia said.
"I think that if I was to feel no pressure at all, I would be lackadaisical and you would see that in my play," he said. "That's not what I want to do; I want to keep contributing, I want to keep working hard."
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