The weekend started with an eight hour bus ride on Friday morning. Lots of fun, lots of abuse and lots to eat and drink. The journey included discussions that ranged from humourous to philosophical to practical to just plain old trivia. For example, someone asked if perhaps next year there was a limo-plane we could take? Gary described his run-in with a high altitude hockey bag that beat him up pretty good at SportChek and required him to get stitches on his nose. There was advice on using the bus loo by “just closing one’s eyes and focusing”. There was more talk of trailers and trailer parks than I ever hope to hear among friends again. Apparently, some couples you meet at vacation resorts who seem REALLY friendly are perhaps not what they seem to be and yes, I actually made a note about a discussion of how twizzlers could be used as a snore alarm. Smart bunch this.
We stopped for refreshments in some place called Prescott, Ontario (pictured to the right in a way that perhaps only those present, plus the guy on the porch next door, will appreciate) and by the time we got to Montreal around 6:00 PM, well….um, how to describe things at that point? I’m stumped, so never mind. Next, we had a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant. When the food arrived we thanked the waiter in our best French (I believe someone said “a big-ass merci”), wolfed it down and jumped back on the bus to the arena for our Friday night game.
And what a right-off that game was. We lost 4-1 to a pretty lousy team but soundly deserved the loss. At one point during the game, one of the defenceman on the ice came off for a change and when he got to the bench saw that both our other defencemen on the bench were sitting with their helmets off in no shape to play at that moment and maybe for many moments to come. The second classic moment was Dan falling backwards into the boards nowhere near the play for no apparent reason. (Well, as the old saying goes, there is a reason for everything and I suspect we probably could come up with a consensus here if we dug deep enough but I digress). After the game, Matt (young guy) described his disappointment at how quick the game went just as Rick and myself (the two oldest guys) were catching our breath enough to discuss how long the game felt.
After the game, and feeling quite discouraged at the loss (actually, not so much), we headed out with some hitting Dunn’s and some hitting Hurley’s right from the get go. Most gathered later at Hurley’s. The band upstairs was a letdown but they still had yager, Dan’s arm was working well, as were Tara-Lee and her co-bar-mistress so the night wasn’t a bust. Carey and I bailed early and took some heat for it. But as player-of-the-game’s-in-waiting, we knew Saturday was a day we’d have to be at our best.
So from about 1:30 AM Saturday onward, I don’t have much to report ‘cuz I wasn’t back in the loop until late Saturday morning. That’s not to say there isn’t stuff to talk about though. The pictures from Saturday morning (none shall be published here) tell the story and while we were probably in better shape as a team to play on Saturday afternoon after all that bonding on Friday night, some were in better shape than others.
I was up pretty early on a brilliant Saturday morning in Montreal and wandered about the old city as well as up Rue Saint Laurent to scout eating places for later in the day. Took some nice pics which are shown in the Flikr photostream to the right.
We tied a heart-breaker 4-4 in the second game early Saturday afternoon but knew this put us clearly out of contention for Sunday play so from that point on, we could enjoy the remainder of the weekend with a good conscience. I believe between games 2 and 3 someone actually toasted “here’s to not playing on Sunday” (although that may have been on the bus trip down).
Misfortune did hit Matt when he forgot the first rule of Montreal road trip play which is to never stand in front of the other team’s net when Dan is shooting. He took one off the arm and not only did he miss the rest of game 2, but he actually traveled all of south Montreal by cab for over an hour by himself between games 2 and 3 (his teammates had to rest) in search of a clinic. When he found one, it was a 19 hour wait to be seen so out of money and time, he had to walk back to the rink, which interestingly only took him 20 minutes. It turns out he found game 3 quite long from the stands, just when Rick and I were getting our legs under us on the ice. Ah, young guys. Reminds me of the joke of the old bull and the young bull up on the hill looking down on a field of cows…but since that has no link to hockey whatsoever, I’ll go no further with that here.
The tournament was nicely run by CHE enterprises. Paul Evans was the man on the ground and his stories of playing for the Leafs with Sittler and MacDonald against the Broad Street Bullies in the playoffs in the early 80’s were pretty cool. He played for only part of two seasons with the Leafs, and even then only when it got rough because Inge Hammarstrom didn’t like the rough going and when you played Philly, it got rough. Of course the Peterborough connection made it that much better for this old Pete’s fan. We joked about his brother Doug’s hit on Gretzky and of his brothers, who I crossed paths with during minor hockey days.
The 3rd game on Saturday evening was a clinic on well-played hockey. Finely tuned, or at least getting used to playing under the influence (perhaps “PUI” should be a new acronym) we clearly saved our best game until the end. Dan and Carrie each scored early and we had the Quebec boys on the other side back on their heels and pretty intimidated I think. We were actually up 3-0 before the first period was half over. However, like all good things this weekend, this one didn’t last either. At the end, we lost 8-6 with an empty netter by them finishing us off. Carrie won player of the game and claimed it was the first time he had scored more than one goal in a game since a street hockey game on the rock sometime around 3rd grade. Geez boy, wha’d ya go and tell us that for? We were thinking you were good!
To use an army metaphor, Saturday night was all that it could be. Some went for a steak dinner in the old city while Gary, Rick and I headed off to Rue Saint Laurent, where we had a very nice meal indeed. The man at the door welcomed us in, gave us a great table and provided complimentary shots of Jamieson’s (he had me right there). Both he and his waitress actually had one with us which brought a tear to this dogan’s eye. Classic. After that, Rick and Gary and I stopped by the cafe just down from our hotel for some honey cake (Mon Dieu! but it was good) and had our picture taken with some art that caught Rick’s eye. We were a cultured lot, no doubt.
We all ended up at Hurley’s again shortly thereafter and were able to get tables downstairs where Solstices, the Hurley’s house band, was playing. Can those boys play! Not that I’m musical or would know a good musician from a bad one after going with too little sleep and too much honey cake but everyone else seemed to agree they really are great so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Not often you’ll “Comfortably Numb” and “Merrimac” from the same band sound so good.
When we closed Hurley’s I seemed to recall being part leader of a charge to some place west near the old forum called Moe’s diner that was open 7/24. After much searching and walking and frustration, we decided that Moe’s was the Brigadoon of our weekend and off we went back to Dunn’s for a bed time snack. Actually, judging by the timestamp on the receipt in the picture right, I guess it was actually more like breakfast snack. No matter, it tasted good and we hadn’t eaten in hours. When Carrie and I rolled out of the cab at the hotel after Dunn’s, I looked up and commented that it was getting light out and wasn’t that kind of weird?
The bus trip home was predictably lower key than the ride down. We watched the movie “Goon” on the big screen at the back of the bus. Hmmm….no Nick Lidstrom backstory in this one. At the end of it all, perhaps Gary said it best when discussing plans for next year – “how could we not come back?”