There are many flavours of memories that come with playing, coaching and watching hockey over the years. There are the people themselves that you remember, the strange plays, the great goals, saves and hits, the funny one-liners heard in the dressing room and then there are those memories involving a specific game. One of my favourite memories was from my recent past, two seasons ago where I was one of the assistant coaches on my son’s minor Bantam select team. This particular memory involved a come-from-behind win that was as crazy as it was fun.
We were playing in an end-of-year tournament in Toronto and had done well enough in the three game round robin to advance to the semi-final game. We were playing a Toronto team and while we believed we were pretty evenly matched, we fell behind early and just couldn’t score. By the time the ten minute third period began, we trailed 4-0. Our head coach had been yipping at the refs most of the game, hoping that we’d get a call that might result in a powerplay where we could get on the board.
As luck would have it, we did get a powerplay around the 8 minute mark of the third. And we scored. Before we could even start talking ourselves into the idea of a comeback, we scored again less than two minutes later. So with six minutes and change on the clock, we were suddenly in a 4-2 game and the boys we’re feeling pretty good about themselves. Our head coach being a motivator and quite excited about all this, yipped yet again at the ref and promptly got tossed from the game with about 5 minutes remaining.
But no matter, our guys killed the penalty and with about 3 minutes to go scored to make it a one goal game. Now by this point there was bedlam on the bench, bedlam on the ice and bedlam in the stands. Myself and the other assistant were yelling at each other at stoppages in play trying to coordinate when would pull the goalie. It turned out, we didn’t need to. Our guys scored yet again with a buck thirty left on the clock and we had a tie game.
In overtime, the Cinderella finish played itself out in the most exciting way possible. Our top gun, and one of the funniest kids I’ve ever coached, got tripped on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. Never one to shy from the spotlight and big moment, he went in and deked their goalie so cleanly it was ridiculous. Beat him like a rented mule as the saying goes.
Funny thing was, we then moved on to the final and trailed 2-0 in that game with less than two minutes to go. Again, by the time the buzzer went we had scored twice to tie it. However, in overtime in that one, the hockey gods decided to look the other way and we lost 2-1.