Category Archives: High School

Talking Hockey Over Cherry Cheesecake

My wife and I got together with some old high school friends last night for dinner in Courtice, just east of the ‘Shwa.   Great to see everyone again and to talk hockey with some old school buddies.  We talked about our St. Pete’s high’s recent OFSSA hockey win and reminisced about days gone by when we played together on that very team back in the day.

There was also talk of some of the rough rinks east of Peterborough where the fans can get a bit spirited – Tweed was a town that seemed to bring agreement that had tough fans.  One story told was how the fans would bring this big air horn right down beside the visitors bench and blast that sucker into the bench all game long.

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Filed under Fans, High School

St. Pete’s Wins OFSSA

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.

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Filed under Championships, High School

OFSSA Champions (Not)

32 years ago today, the 1980-81 St. Petes’s team, of which I was a part, headed off to OFSSA in North Bay on a yellow school bus.  It was a solid team sporting a 38-3-2 won lost record and was the second seed in the eight team tournament.  We had played and beaten the first seed Monarch Park lion’s earlier in the season and were coming to the tournament pretty healthy.

Brad Cowie was our best player, and the best player I have every played on any team with.  He was so good.  We had lost in the OFSSA semi’s in the previous year and while we had lost a fair number of really good grade 13 players, this year’s team was still a really good team.

We won our first contest against London Saunders on Thursday afternoon at 2:15 PM.  We had a really good game and I think the score was 4-2 or something close to that.   That win put us in the semi’s on Friday night.  Our likely opponent was to be the East York Goliaths, a big physical team that we had lost to in the annual Snofest Tournament finals in Peterborough in January.  I am not one of those players who cares not who he plays.  I remember getting a beat-down from playing these guys a couple of months before and was not looking forward to playing them.  Monarch Park, the higher seed didn’t bother me a bit.

And so, without much to do in North Bay for the next 24+ hours, we did what any group of disciplined teenage hockey-playing boys would do, we lost our mental focus quickly.  I remember spending a good chunk of Thursday aft and evening playing pool in a snooker hall across the street from the sleepy, summertime motel we were staying in.  Our coaches went back to the rink to scout and by early evening came back to the hotel to share the miraculous news – East York had been put out of the gold medal chase with a loss to a rag-tag team from the Soo whose hot goalie had stood on his head.   We were pumped and feeling all the more like it might be our year.

With that news, we got just a little further ahead of ourselves.  Again, it’s now only Thursday night and we still have almost a full day before our Friday night semi game.  Let the card games begin.  Some school groupies showed up in a car and brought up the girlfriend of one of the boys and focus slipped a little further.

By Thursday afternoon, our goalie Bernie Crowley (no relation but the nuns at the school used to think we looked alike enough to be brothers) had lost enough money in a card game to the McDougall brothers that he didn’t have enough dough to cover his Friday night hotel room fee.  Not a good omen at all and more than a bit of distraction.

Things got worse and since I’ve written the details of how the actual game unfolded in this post, I won’t repeat it here.  I remember the ride home post-game.  We would have happily stayed in North Bay overnight but our coaches herded us on to the old yellow school bus for the four hour ride back to Peterborough.  I remember it being one freakin’ cold ride.  I swear the bus had either no heat or the coaches told the bus driver to leave it turned off as punishment.  We got in to Peterborough really late, feeling really defeated.  Our parents were there to pick us up in the middle of the night at St. Pete’s and our little dream of winning Ontario was done.

While we didn’t know it that night, our coach Dave Bowen announced within a few weeks he would be leaving the high school and hanging up his coaching blades for awhile.  It was a real disappointment for me as he was the best coach I ever had and I had two years to go in  high school.   In the following season, we won the city championship for a 5th straight year but didn’t advance out of COSSA.  In my final year, the string of city championships ended at 5 as Kenner Collegiate took the crown.

ofssa 1981

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Filed under Great Players, High School, Losing, Missed Chances, Road Trips, teams

OFSSA – The First Time

33 years ago today, my St. Pete’s team headed off to OFSSA in Toronto.  I was a grade 10 and played very little that year.  We had a core of very strong older players where our best five on the ice were as good as the same best five from any team in the tournament.  However, we didn’t have the depths with something like ten grade 10 players.

Still, it was a pretty cool atmosphere to be a part of, with me never having really played at a level higher than house league.  We beat the Fort Frances Muskies in our Thursday game to advance to the semi’s on Friday night.

Our Friday night game was to be played at St. Mike’s arena, a little bit of a hockey shrine in its own right.  We played the Henry Carr Crusaders whose 51-3-3 record on the season was impressive no matter how you looked at.  The sported some high profile players – Pat Flatley, the future NHL’er and captain of the New York Islanders and Paul Higgins who would have a short career with the Leafs as an enforcer.

We were no slouch though and sported a 38-5-2 record.  Henry Carr had beat us in the finals of the David Bauer tournament in the prior November.  I didn’t play a single shift in the first game but played a couple of shifts in the Friday night game and remember being crazy nervous.  It was an NHL moment to me.  As the third period opened, we scored an early goal to make it a 5-3 game and at that point, it was one of those “you never know?” moments.

It didn’t last.  They scored a cheap one on us shortly thereafter and it was all down hill from there.

ofssa 1980

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Filed under High School, Play-offs, tournaments

The Bad Wheel Giveth Life to the Voice Within

When you lose an edge, you gain a dreadful feeling that lurks inside you, that little presence that tells you not to turn too hard, too fast, too sharp.  Don’t wheel too quickly when the play breaks the other way, don’t spin quite as tight to lose a defender down low.  For if you do, your wheel may be trusty or it may not.  If it fails you though, the results won’t be pretty.

When I was a kid in high school and needed a sharpen on an off-ice day, I’d drag my skates out of my hockey bag and throw in my gym bag before going to bed at night and head down to Spokes ‘n Pedals during my lunch period at school to get ’em done up.  A buck a sharpen, and later, when it became the goto place for good sharpens, it was a buck and a bit I think.

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Filed under High School, skates

The One That Got Away

The one that got away is a metaphor for many things in our world today.  I really like to fish and have had a few good ones literally get away on me.  My son caught a big bass one night when he was only 8 or 9 only to have it get away beside the boat because we did not have our net with us.  It’s been the subject of much trash talk on every fishing trip since because without a picture (we have none), the truth of the story is difficult to confirm and gets more so with the passing of each year.

Then there is the one that got away in a courtship sense.   As Jake Owen’s song by the same title laments, “Every summer that rolls around, I’m looking over my shoulder, wishing I could see her face, wishing I could hold her.”  Well, I know you’re probably wondering how I’m going to tie this pile of country music drivel into a hockey story, but trust me on this one, the fish you couldn’t land and the love that got away are not to be out done by the game that got away, the check you didn’t quite pick up or the goal that wasn’t.

I’ve had a few of these.  Nice life if these are my biggest laments but nonetheless, it is sometimes fun and a bit tortuous to look back and wonder what might have been.  At OFSSA in my grade 11 year, we fell behind 5-1 at the end of the first in the semi-finals on a Friday night game in North Bay.  The game was effectively over at that point.  The final score 8-3 proves that.  However, we were kids and didn’t know it at the time.  We went to the dressing room shell shocked and our coach pumped us up saying there was lots of hockey left.  We believed.

We scored the next one and made it 5-2 and shortly after that, I had a chance to make it 5-3.  The puck came to me at the edge of the crease with the empty cage and I shoveled a gimmee backhander in.  Somehow, their tender dove and got a glove on it.  I can still see it, feel it.  I went to the bench so frustrated.  I heard this coach’s words over the prior two years saying that in a big game “you have to score on these chances” and I didn’t.  We actually did make it 5-3 a bit later and the comeback was alive but they scored again shortly thereafter to make it 6-3 and that was that.

I really wish I had scored.  If we could have got to 5-4, it would have been a different game.  It was OFSAA.  Bummer of a way to lose, to get blown out in the first period.  There have been other missed goals, other missed checks but none had the significance of that year.

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Filed under High School, Play-offs

Lindsay on a Saturday Night

In my last year of high school play, the high school in Lindsay had entered the Peterborough area league.  Instead of playing them after school during the week as we did other local schools, we would sometimes play on Saturday nights in Lindsay.  We’d take a school bus to the game as a team but on the way home, I would often just jump in the car with my parents who most often attended these games.  They were truly wonderful hockey parents and attended every game they possibly could.

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Filed under High School, Parents, Road Trips