Saturday, 14 December 2019

International Goalie Goal

The man celebrating with fist-bumps at the bench? That's goaltender Frans Tuohimaa. Tuohimaa went to the bench for fist-bumps after scoring the first goal of is professional career today in the Euro Hockey Tour game today between his country of Finland and their arch-rivals in Sweden. International goals seem to be more rare than league goals simply due to the lack of games on the international stage, but Tuohimaa added his name to the record books today with his historic goal.

For those that aren't aware, the Euro Hockey Tour is an annual men's hockey tournament that is open to only four countries in the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. Most of the players are brought in from European leagues and, occasionally, the KHL, and the tournament is used by these four European nations to scout additional players for each country's respective national men's hockey team. The "tour" part of the European Hockey Tour features a three-game mini-tournament in each country, and the winner is determined by the total points accumulated from all four legs of the tournament.

All of the above is hardly relevant outside of the fact that Frans Tuohimaa was playing for Finland today in the second mini-tournament in Russia as the Finns faced off against Sweden. Late in the third period with Finland up 4-1 and Tuohimaa in line for the regulation win, Sweden opted to pull their netminder in an effort to try and make up the difference in this game. Sweden, trying to break through the Finnish defence at the blue line, dumped the puck in directly to Tuohimaa, and here are the results.
Tuohimaa's goal is the first goaltender goal to be scored in EHT history, so the former Edmonton Oilers draft pick is now officially in the EHT record books! The catch here is that I went through a couple of IIHF Record Books to see if there were other goals scored by goaltenders in international competitions, and it seems to be a statistic that the IIHF either doesn't track or hasn't had to worry about since I couldn't find any mention of goalie goals in their record books. This means that Tuohimaa may be the first goalie to score a goal in an international tournament, but it also means his name won't appear in the IIHF Record Book moving forward because the EHT men's tournament doesn't appear to be an IIHF-sanctioned tournament!

What also may take a little shine off this moment is an IIHF rule that this tournament uses that states that any goaltender who skates to his bench to celebrate a goal must either be replaced in his net or the team is assessed a delay of game penalty. Finland, knowing this rule, opted to replace Tuohimaa rather than accept a penalty, so he didn't actually play the full sixty minutes in the victory. Yes, he still earned the win as the goaltender of record, but the rules of the game make the details of the game a little crazier.

In any case, congratulations to Frans Tuohimaa for scoring his first goal as a professional player. After playing for four AHL games for the Oklahoma City Barons and 33 games for the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors under the watch of the Edmonton Oilers, it seems that his return to Finland's SM-Liiga after opting not to stay in the ECHL was a good decision for his career as he's been able to suit up for his country in international play and score his first goal as professional netminder!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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