Carter Ashton of the Toronto Marlies was the beneficiary of a bizarre play in the second period of Saturday’s game in Grand Rapids.

With the home side leading 1-0, Griffins netminder Tom McCollum left the goal in favour of an extra attacker believing that a delayed penalty call was coming against the Marlies. To the surprise of him – and almost everyone inside the Van Andel Arena – the call was pending versus the Griffins. With possession of the puck, Ashton had a gaping net in which to deposit his seventh goal of the season, and likely the only second period empty-netter of his career.

Here’s a look back at the play:

Usually when an empty-netter is scored on a delayed penalty, it’s the result of a player on the non-offending team accidentally putting the puck into his own goal.

An infamous blunder in the AHL occurred in 2008 when Chicago Wolves centre Steve Martins attempted to pass the puck to the point, only to have the disk travel the entire length of the ice into the vacated goal. The miscue occurred in overtime, handing a victory to the Manitoba Moose.

Such gaffes aren’t limited to the AHL. Shane O’Brien, then of the Vancouver Canucks, would like to have this one back:

And to prove that luck isn’t always on the side of the Irish, O’Brien’s current Avalanche teammate Ryan O’Byrne victimized his former team the Montreal Canadiens in similar fashion:

But once in a while, a team catches a break. In the 2011 Women’s World Championship gold medal game, Team USA’s Meghan Duggan came within an inch of duplicating the same unfortunate feat in overtime as Martins of the Wolves. Fortunately for the Americans, the puck slid an inch wide of the empty net.

Team USA’s Hilary Knight would go on to score the game-winner.

As for Saturday’s game, Ashton’s goal for the Marlies was only one of three that Grand Rapids would surrender in their 3-1 defeat. The saving grace for the Griffins is that the game wasn’t played – in front of a much larger crowd – at Comerica Park as originally scheduled as part of the Winter Classic.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at

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