*Watch the goal video below.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A few dangles and a nifty move was all it took for the National Team Development Program’s Kevin Labanc shootout goal on Nov. 1 to become a social media sensation.
The Staten Island, N.Y., native never really thought the goal would become a viral hit. Instead, he said was happier to see his team beat the previously unbeaten Dubuque Fighting Saints 2-1. Don’t let him fool you, though — he has been working on his shootout moves.
“I have worked on it during practices; we have shootouts,” he said. “I always take it seriously and work on moves that I can use in a game. I have been working on it.”
There is always a story behind the story. That honor goes to Under-17 forward Sonny Milano, who posted the original video to his Twitter account (@SMiLano48).
“During the shootout, I went behind the net and shot the video. It was a nice move,” Milano explained. “I posted it to Twitter and tagged everyone. It is not a move you see everyday, so I thought it might go viral.”
U-18 goaltender Thatcher Demko also made sure to tweet the Lebanc goal (@thatcher_hockey). He posted the USA Hockey photo with the words: “just your average everyday move from banker.”
“He tries these crazy moves in practices and sometimes, half of them don’t work,” Demko said. “I stop him most of the time in practice [he says laughing], or at least, 90 to 95 percent of the time.”
Labanc is a little embarrassed by this extra attention, but he has heard from several individuals about the move. And, of course, he is thankful that his future Notre Dame teammate was able to get the video.
“I have heard from a bunch of people. A lot of players on the team have posted it on Facebook and Twitter. People like it so that’s good,” he said. “I was pretty shocked. I guess I faked the goalie out but I don’t know. It was a great play and I worked on it in practice. I guess it shows that practice makes perfect.”
U-18 forward Tyler Motte and Demko also were quick to poke some fun on Labanc’s newfound fame.
“I remember coach calling his name and told him to do it just like practice and don’t think about it,” Motte said. “That is what does in practice all the time in the shootouts at the end. We count the number of times he stick handles and it will be 12 or 13 times and he will still score. We see it all the time in practice, but to pull it off in a game is kind of amazing.
“We pick on Banker a lot, but he takes it like a champ. He kind of shows us up on the ice so it works out for him.”
According to Demko, “When Kevin had the goalie on the other side of the net and he kind of paused there, I kind of got nervous because I thought he might miss the net or fall down. I was amazed because it was such a good move and I wasn’t expecting it from him.
“We went into a shootout with Notre Dame [on Oct. 7] and their guy pulled a similar move on me, and I looked like a fool. It’s one of those moves where you don’t really see it coming and it kind of gets hard.”
As Labanc and his teammates prepare for the Four Nations Tournament at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube this week, his mind is also on the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in his hometown.
“My family is doing well; everybody is okay,” he said. “Our home had a little bit of damage but my family is trying to do their best to come out for the Four Nations. We will see if they can make it.
“It’s been difficult [being here] and wishing I was over there helping them out with the house. I have priorities over here and I can’t just leave those.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.