Photo illustration: Period television screen frames student's athletic falling-down hockey goal

Junior forward Ryan Boucher’s falling-down goal against Middlebury draws Hall-of-Famer comparison


In a January win over Middlebury, Ryan Boucher ’21 scored in spectacular style with minutes to go in the third period, thrilling fans at Kreitzberg Arena. Thanks to ESPN, sports fans across the country also got to share the joy.

Boucher’s dazzling goal ranked sixth among the night’s top 10 highlights on the network’s SportsCenter program. Jack Korte of WPTZ-TV, Channel 5, a Burlington NBC affiliate, shot the video, saved on Norwich’s Instagram page. (You can see it here:

As the play developed, Boucher, a junior forward from Fitchburg, Mass., displayed deft stickwork after taking a pass from Cadets defenseman Connor Swystun ’19.

Boucher carried the puck through two Middlebury defenders, zipped down the left wing, cut in on goal, and backhanded a shot past the Middlebury goalie. Boucher’s momentum carried him forward enough that he fell down after depositing the puck.

“Connor … flipped the puck out of the defensive zone. When it landed, I had a lot of speed coming up the board and noticed it was still a bouncing puck when it reached the defenseman’s feet,” Boucher recalled. “I swung my stick at the bouncing puck to get … on the in¬side of the defenseman. Once the puck settled, I knew I had a step on the defenseman [and] I could beat him to the net. I brought the puck there.”

“The rest happened so fast,” he added. “I saw the goalie stretch out and had a good position so I lifted the puck over his pad. I had a lot of speed, and when I got up, I jumped onto the glass. I don’t score goals like that too often anymore, and it was really exciting.”

SportsCenter anchors Elle Duncan and Toni Collins certainly seemed excited. “Ooooooooh man,” said Duncan, whom local audiences might know from her days at Boston sports broadcaster NESN. “Listen, he wanted to play foosball,” Duncan said in a pop-culture nod to the 1998 movie The Waterboy. “But I think it’s best that he ended up playing hockey instead, because he looks very Bobby Orr-ish out there.”

Bobby Orr is the Hockey Hall of Famer who scored a famous falling-down goal to help the Boston Bruins win the 1970 Stanley Cup. Sports commentators have dubbed that score, against the St. Louis Blues, the “Orr soars” goal.

“Being mentioned in the same breath as Bobby Orr is kind of crazy,” Boucher said. “I think it was the way I fell as I scored as to why people are even mentioning me in the same breath as him. That is the only possible way someone could ever compare me to one of the greats.”

We beg to differ.

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