Congrats to St. Pete’s High in Peterborough who won the OFSSA hockey championship this past week. Head coach Ed Sullivan’s is a former St. Pete’s player and is a brother to Pete whose line I played on in my four years on the team in the early 80’s. Assistant coach Steve Stanlick was also a team and classmate of mine from those days as well. This was the school’s first OFSSA championship and is a wonderful accomplishment.
Category Archives: Championships
A friend /neighbour who has a son the same age as mine, once remarked after our boys’ house-league hockey team won their league championship, that it was a really wonderful thing to be part of a winning team because many kids play sports for years and never get that experience. Couldn’t agree more.
I don’t remember the endings to seasons where we didn’t win the championship but I do remember those where we did win a house league title. Three in fact and like much of my other old hockey glitter, I stuffed it all in a bag and kept it.
The badges below represent wins in for St. Anne’s teams in Peterborough’s church league. The first badge was from a team coached by Bob Hickey and Jerry Strickland and was the only year I ever played defence for an entire season. (My goalie-mates in the WOHL still don’t buy that I ever played defence anywhere, ever). The latter two were won with Ed and Brian at the helm.
“There was a lot of character in our room. When we got down early in the tournament by losing that first game, we didn’t panic. The guys all believed in one another and knew if we just dug down a bit deeper and stuck to our game plan and continued to believe in one another, we’d be ok. Maybe we were trying just a little too hard in that first game. Also, with Timmy scoring just 1.8 seconds after the opening face-off, I actually think it rattled us more than them. We weren’t used to scoring so early and with the added pressure of this being the Christmas tournament, ya know, we just were just a little too jacked to deal with all that.
I think we simplified things a bit after that first game and decided we just needed to get some pucks in deep, some pucks on the net and good things would happen. And in game two, that approach worked and we got rewarded. Moose came up large in the cage for us, ya know, some big saves at key times and slowly we started to build some momentum. Everybody was contributing. I mean, it’s a grind, the Christmas tournament. You have to be mentally ready to go the distance to win it all. You gotta remember, this is three games played over the course of two hours. It’s not like the regular season where you just play one game and then go home for a snooze.
So when we pulled off the game 2 victory, and a close one at that, that was a confidence booster in a do-or- die situation. Ya know, we lose that and it’s over. We had to leave it all out there in game 2 and we did because there was no tomorrow. After the season we had, the boys knew going out early like would be a bitter pill to swallow so that motivated us big time. In that second game, we just wanted to take care of business so we could give ourselves a shot at controlling our own destiny. And that’s what we did.
I mean, we were glad that red and pumpkin tied, which kinda helped us out but in the end, we just wanted to get to game 3 with our fate in our own hands. It was a good feeling at the drop of the puck in game 3 that we were slowing getting better every game, every shift really. Ya, we were tired but at this point in the season, you can’t use that as an excuse. Crazy thing is, the pumpkins lost a close one late in their second game and were playing back to back games so those stars kinda lined up for us I guess in that final game, which was kinda nice ‘cuz of the adversity we’d had to overcome earlier in the tournament. And the pucks started goin’ in and things just built from there.
It’s all a bit crazy right now so we’re just gonna let this sink in for a couple of days. I love these guys. We battled and it’s a pretty special feeling right now. But ya know, we’ll take a couple of weeks off for Christmas and then get back to work in January. It’ll be weird lining up against some of the boys at that point, but ya know, that’s hockey in the W and it’s what you gotta do to get it done. I’m not gonna pretend we won’t look back on this team and be glad we were a part of it but come January, it’s a new day and next up is the Golden Boot in March so I think everyone knows it’s a take-no-prisoners kinda thing so we’ll just have to take it a game at a time.”
And so….without further cliche, the first half of the season in the season came to end in Elmira this past Monday with Blue coming out on top. Well done Blue.
Derek Sanderson’s autobiography was published recently. By all accounts, it’s a crazy story because this guy lived a crazy life. It’s amazing he’s still around to tell it. Check out a book review here.
I remember my Dad telling me about reading one of the sports columns of a Toronto paper back in the 70’s just after the Bruins had lost the ’71 finals to the Habs. The Bruins were still a very young team and had won their first cup with Orr just the year before and were the favourite that year as well. I believe the column was written by legendary sports columnist Milt Dunnell (a favourite of my Dad’s) and he described how some of the older Bruins, like Johnny Bucyk and Dallas Green left the dressing room quietly to avoid the press. They had enough experience (ie. they were not young athletes anymore) to know this was a blown opportunity.
And then there was Sanderson. My dad has repeated the line so often to me that it seems like he is quoting verbatim from the article, although it’s likely he is simply summarizing the essence of the picture Dunnell’s story created. It goes something like this. “Sanderson left the arena with a blonde on each arm. For him and the rest of the young Bruins, there are plenty of next years remaining.”
The irony, which my Dad has always loved, is that in the case of many other young, dynastic teams, this might well have been true. But for the Bruins, while they won the cup the next season, that marked the end of the party. Orr’s knee was effectively done at that point. Sanderson jumped to the WHA and his life ran aground on drugs and booze.
I got thinking the other day about some of the great pros I watched as a kid who never won it all. Jean Ratelle comes to mind. I remember him being so good in those late 70’s series against the Habs and the Bruins coming so close. Gilbert Perreault is another. Him and his French connection buddies were so good for those brief years in Buffalo where they lit it up.
Mike Gartner, while not in the class of Ratelle or Perreault in my opinion did manage to score over 700 goals – not a bad career. Tony O between the pipes and in later years, Denis Savard were as good as they came but for those two Hawks, all they have are near misses.
From modern day players, how about Ryan Smyth of Edmonton? He’s not done yet but it would be wonderful to see him win one. For all the grief we give the Leafs, Mats Sundin was a great one who came up empty.
The Stanley Cup, the Memorial Cup, the World Junior Championship, The Olympics…..and the Golden Boot. That is an impressive list of hockey trophies to be sure, and their order of listing does not imply anything with respect to relative importance. Some famous gents have had the good fortune of being a part of teams that have won several of these. Scott Niedermayer comes to mind.
Having said that, Neidermayer’s name isn’t on The Golden Boot which perhaps does suggest that while those teams he was apart of were pretty good, and their victories hard fought, winning the Golden Boot is just a little beyond the others. A little harder to win. A little more unique to drink out of than some old tin cup.
This year’s winning team in the battle for the Golden Boot was the Blue Team. And I, not Niedermayer, was on that team. A team I’ll always be proud to say I was a part of. It may not have been 16 wins over 2 months. (In fact, it was only 2 wins and 1 loss between 9:00 am Saturday morning and 2:00 pm Saturday afternoon a few weekends back). It may not have been a full-contact war of attrition among finely tuned athletes. (In fact, it was just a bunch of old pluggers eating Warmington’s good eats and drinks between games). It may not have made front-page news in National Newspapers. (In fact, the only mention in the media at all was….um…well, never mind). What is was instead, was just about the finest hockey ever played.
So when Niedermayer is ready to take stock of what’s he really accomplished, and comes to realize that he came up one trophy short, he’ll always be welcome to throw his name on to the spare list for the W and see if he can work his way into a regular roster spot. If he does, and if he is lucky enough some Saturday morning in March some day in the future to win it all, then and only then will he be able to truly revel in his accomplishments. Until then, he’s just another guy who won some of the great trophies in the game, without winning perhaps the most important one of them all…The Golden Boot.