Alex Mason of Detroit Lakes makes a move on the Willmar defense last season. Mason has gained nationwide acclaim for his breakway goal last weekend against Bagley/Fosston. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen.
In an amazing piece of stickhandling, Mason beats a defender near center ice, fakes a backhand shot then lifts the puck on the blade of his stick and throws it lacrosse style in the upper corner of the net.
“It all happened so quickly,” said Detroit Lakes coach Chris Denardo, who admitted he did a double take on the bench. “I had to ask, ‘Did that just happen?’ ”
Mason's third-period goal was his second in the Lakers' eventual 5-1 victory at Bagley/Fosston. He leads Detroit Lakes with 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) entering the Section 8A playoffs, in which the Lakers are a No. 6 seed.
According to Scott Lysford, the Detroit Lakes’ parent and self-described “obsessive” videographer who captured the goal and posted it online, it will be the No. 1 play on the NHL Network’s highlight package this Saturday and Sunday. The video, which Lysford originally thought might get 3,000 views, is well on its way past a million.
The Washington Post, CBS Sports.com, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com and Deadspin all have posted the video of Mason's goal on their Web sites. Through Friday morning, the YouTube video had nearly 750,000 views. It’s also brought a flood of interview requests for Mason and his coach.
“They come out of the woodwork every day, that’s for sure,” laughed Denardo.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Mason, who had been known in the northwest corner of the state for his knee-buckling hits and toughness in the corners, suddenly had to answer questions about his trick shooting.
“I just wanted to try a different breakaway because I normally get stoned on breakaways,” joked Mason.
Mason said he’d been trying the move in practice for only a week or so prior, although he’d messed around with lifting the puck on his blade for years. He asked Lakers' goaltender MacKenzie Steele if he thought the move would work in a game – and the two decided to give it a shot in a breakaway drill.
“I just put it on my backhand like that and he bit really hard,” Mason said.
Steele eventually got the hang of the deke and drag, but knew that it would be tough for a goalie who had never seen it before.
Mason's goal has garnered plenty of national attention, as has his Native American heritage. The senior lives on the White Earth Reservation and attends school at Detroit Lakes. Comments on the YouTube message boards seem to focus on two things: the quality of the goal and the length of Mason’s hair. He admits to reading the comments – all of them – but he’s taken the attention in stride. Negative comments only get a chuckle from him now.
“I didn’t think it would get this big,” Mason said.
To start the interview, Mason gave a polite sigh when asked about the goal and admitted he’s grown a bit weary of the attention. His classmates have taken to calling him “Superstar” when they want to get a rise out of him. In Thursday’s Senior Night game against Park Rapids, he was introduced as “our YouTube sensation, Alex Mason.”
“The funniest thing is that he’s completely not that type of player,” said Denardo of his hard-hitting senior. “He’s more the guy who’s going to run a guy over to score a goal versus make a move like that.”
“C’mon guys, it’s just a goal,” said Mason, whom Denardo called a humble kid who is more embarrassed than anything about the goal.
“I’m the same guy.”
That said, Mason grinned slyly when asked if he’d ever try it in a game again.
“If I can get enough room.”