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We got Wheeling Nailers’ players out here doing ‘the Michigan’ in games

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Brandon Hawkins pulls off a trick move in an ECHL game

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NHL: JUN 26 Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brandon Hawkins pulled off a pretty nice move for a goal with the ECHL Wheeling Nailers.

Hawkins, 25, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Penguins earlier in the year. He’s split this season between ECHL Wheeling (five points in seven games) and AHL Wilkes-Barre (one point in three games).

This goal is known as ‘the Michigan’ due to a Univeristy of Michigan player Mike Legg being the first commonly celebrated player to pull off the lacrosse-style goal in a high level hockey game. For many years no one else has been daring or bold enough to try the flashy move, though occasionally it pops up. For instance even Sidney Crosby scored this type of goal way back in his days in the QMJHL (link - Youtube) QMJHL. Crosby was criticized in the media for showing up an opponent by doing this (among others, Don Cherry called him a “hot dog”) and hasn’t really tried to pull this out in the NHL. Though with his unique and varied ways of scoring goals by batting them in, and from behind the net, and by firing them off goalie’s and in, maybe at some point he might dust it off in the future.

‘The Michigan’ is becoming more common as the game changes, Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov scored with it in the NHL earlier this season for one of the few known goals like that at the game’s highest level.

Back to Hawkins, he has a unique story being as his fiancee is a 2018 hockey gold medal winner in Kali Flanagan. Hawkins noticed a difference between the two with an interview with the Pens.

“If I try to do some of the stuff she does on her skates, I’d probably hurt myself,” Hawkins said with a laugh. “Her whole game is within her edge work and her ability to skate. She’s at an elite level.”

After the joint training camp concluded, Flanagan stayed with Hawkins in Wheeling for a few more days. It was the perfect opportunity for them to spend some together amidst their busy schedules.

Hawkins, 25, is in his first full professional season with the Penguins organization after joining WBS on an AHL-only deal at the end of the 2018-19 campaign following the conclusion of his senior year at Northeastern. He appeared in five games and recorded two goals.

”Ever since I’ve known him, I knew that his dream was to play pro hockey,” Flanagan said. “He’s always been working towards that goal. When it kind of came through for him at the end of the year, he was so excited. To be able to feel that for him and share that with him was great. I went up to Wilkes-Barre and watched a couple of his games, too. To see him play in his first pro games was really cool.”

At the time, Flanagan, 24, was finishing her senior season at Boston College. She had taken a leave of absence the previous year to make her Olympic debut at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.

”Even just to be at the Olympics was this amazing experience,” Flanagan said. “Then to play in the Olympics and actually be able to bring home a gold medal was just the craziest. It’s still weird to think about.”

Between a gold medal and a Michigan goal in a professional game, that couple’s doing pretty alright on the ice.