Patrick Dwyer is a name hockey fans across the NHL might recognize. In Carolina, he’s one who should certainly ring bells. Dwyer skated in 416 games with the Hurricanes across a seven-season span, this after skating 354 games in the AHL after completing a four-year stay at Western Michigan University.
Dwyer pieced together some decent scoring numbers throughout his career stateside, too. Across his time in college, the minors and the NHL before, Dwyer has lit the lamp 181 times, adding another 18 in European competitions across the past four seasons. He’s scored power play tallies, shorthanded goals and a few game winners. He has exhibition goals, regular season goals and a few in the post-season.
As it turns out, though, the thing Dwyer might be best known for after this weekend — in North America and across the pond — is a goal that didn’t count at all.
Friday night in Belfast, Dwyer, who signed on with the EIHL’s Giants this off-season, appeared to have registered one of the most unique markers you’ll see all season, a combination of heads-up play and on-the-spot ingenuity. You see, Dwyer was skating towards the net as Belfast broke into the Milton Keynes Lightning zone, but as he arrived at the goalmouth, he was struck in the back by a shot. In the moment, it appeared the puck disappeared. Dwyer, however, knew exactly where it was.
“I could feel it hit my jersey and then I felt it in my pants,” Dwyer said.
So, he did what any goal scorer trying to put the puck in the net would do: he backed himself across the goal line, stuffing his whole body, the puck included, behind Lightning keeper Patrick Killeen.
“It happened so quick, but the thought was to get the puck in the net and see what happens,” Dwyer said of what people are referring to as the ‘Pants Goal’ or 'Butt Goal.' “I know it happened last year to Cam Ward — it got stuck in his pad — and it happened to Mike Smith when it got caught in his jersey. I figured I’d get everything in the net and see where it goes from there.”
You’ll notice in the above video that commentators indicate that Dwyer’s rear end was entirely in the net before the referee had blown the play dead. And the man himself recalled exactly how the post-pants-in-net routine went down.
“I was staring the ref in the eyes and he didn’t blow the whistle,” Dwyer said. “I don’t think he quite knew what to do. The goalie didn’t know what to do. They went and reviewed it and, to be honest wth you, I don’t know if when they called it no goal they really knew whether or not that was the right call. I don’t think anyone knew.”
The explanation Dwyer received was one that is sure to incense some fans, particularly those in favor of abolishing the oft maligned intent-to-blow rule. Dwyer was told that this was a case of the play being dead in the minds of the referees. As such, Dwyer’s actions came during what amounted to a break in play. Now a viral video star, though, Dwyer has seen the reaction online and can’t help but chuckle at the debate.
Not all was lost, however. The Giants downed the Lightning 7-0 even without the help of Dwyer’s ‘Pants Goal,’ and he still managed to find the scoresheet in the contest. He registered two goal and three assists, five of the 12 points he’s scored in seven games through the season.
As for Dwyer, a player-coach this season in Belfast with the option to return in the same role next season if he so chooses, he’s taking his career as it goes. The 35-year-old had long seen himself in Belfast — given their Irish roots, playing for the Giants is something he and his wife had talked about years prior — and he’s enjoying the game as much as ever as he winds down his career. So, maybe he’s got one more year in him. Maybe he’ll turn to coaching as soon as next season. Hey, maybe there’s even another ‘Pants Goal’ to be scored. For now, though, he’ll lock the goal-that-got-away in his memory bank.
“If it would have counted, it goes up there with the favorites,” Dwyer said. “And even though it didn’t count, it’s still a story that I’m sure I’ll be telling my grandkids.”