Category Archives: tournaments

The Golden Boot – 2020

So…here we go eh?  Another year in the W has passed and the season ending tourney played out in all its sporting glory.  Even in these strange times, the show must go on, no?  Buckle up boys, and I’ll do my best to chronicle how this year’s event went down.

There were some moments that my interpretation or memory of you may want to dispute, but since we have no official protest mechanism in the WOHL, you’ll just have to submit a comment at the bottom of this tale and hope you find some mates who agree with you (although I doubt it will change this official record).

In a twist that made my work here easier, the teams today were left as-is from the second half – no re-draft for the tournament!  Who said old guys are set in their ways?

9:00: Puck Drop – White vs Black 

Without any bias, I will say that the Black team was really built for a day just like this.  We finished up the season without a loss in the final 2 weeks and had momentum on our side.  Sadly, that went sideways early when White’s Reg Leland scored 31 seconds in.  Frickin’ guy should be named Reg Leach with those goal-scoring hands of his.  Year after year, he just scores.

With the defense-first philosophy both teams were built on, it was no surprise this one stayed a low scoring affair.  Black had 7 break-aways that became 1 on 1’s with Cowie, Schwindt and Culbert’s speed on the White blue-line. (Hmmm…a white blue line, that’s odd, eh?).  Even Ireland appeared to be staying right there with his peers in this respect – admirable given that speed isn’t really his thing.  Interesting that none of these break-aways were thwarted by a back-checking White forward.

Dan Dawson ripped one home from the blue-line with a buck fifty to go and this one ended in a tie.  Nothing like a tie to confuse the dressing room talk about who has to beat who in the next 5 games to win the prize.

9:50: Red vs Gold

Ok, we all knew it was game-on when Frey and Farrell (in his first game back from an upper body injury) dropped the flippers on the first shift after Farrell gave Frey a bit of a face-wash after a whistle.  Both teams hammered the boards with sticks as the warriors skated to the sin-bin, in a show of old school hockey appreciation.

Gold scored on the resulting power-play (Farrell took an extra 2 for slashing his own teammate Warmington on the way to the penalty box, showing just how pumped up he was to be playing again).

In a play that surprised everyone, Scott Murie scored to tie it with Eckmeier dropping back to cover for him.  (As I said, strange times we live in boys).

The score stayed tied until about 10 minutes to go with Meyer and Brunkard trading big saves with flashes of leather, pad stacks, and Dryden leg-kicks.  Then, Murie scored again to give red the lead. Sadly, doing a pony-ride the length of the ice afterwards a la Theo Fleury and being mobbed by the Martin brothers didn’t sit well with Gold who then mounted a furious counter attack resulting in a goal by Kirkland on a pretty pass by Rajna.  There have been some beauty pairs in this wonderful game of ours over the years (think Hull and Oates, Trottier and Bossy, Yzerman and Errey (Peterborough Petes in early 80’s), Gretz and Kurri) but has there been a better pair than Kirdland and Rajna?  I think not.

Just when it looked like a second consecutive tie might be in he offing, Trimble banged in rebound off a Domzy point blast that secured the win for Gold late.  But a coach’s challenge sent this one upstairs and the goal was waived off because of crease violation and Game two likewise ended in a tie!  Oh the intrigue!

10:40: White vs Red

Scottie Bowman once said that the 3rd game of any series is the key game.  Not sure if that applies to a round-robin tournament with 4 teams but let’s go with it for dramatic effect.

So…no surprise about the story line here – Meyer vs Taylor between the pipes.  Sort of like Caesar Maniago vs Alan Bester – just really, really entertaining goal-tending.  (Yes, it was a goal-fest with White outlasting Red 6-5).

Reg Leach had a pair for White, continuing his tear, as did Paola with Culbert and Richardson getting singles. Interesting stats side-note is that Cowie tied a WOHL record by picking up 7 assists for the White side’s 6 markers.  Yes, there is some question about the accuracy of this but the league verified this post-game so congrats Chris!

Red’s contributions came from up and down the line-up, but their defense-last philosophy didn’t help them in the outcome of this one.  Eckmeier got the hattie, Mr Knicely had a single and Chris Martin also scored after playing catch with his brudder on a pretty passing play (but yes, he was still behind the offensive red line in the corner when he took the shot).  Defensemen had assists on all 5 Red goals, almost tying Cowie’s individual stats on the other side.

11:30:  Black vs Gold

Clearly, the dressing snacks pre-game played a role in this one.  Both teams looks sluggish and tired and old, which when you think about it, kind of describes our stage of life so let’s own that look, shall we?

Gold opened the scoring on a fine 5-touch play that went from Aldous to Taylor to the Millionaire (sorry Brent, after 5 minutes of switching screens to try and spell your name correctly I just went with word that is easier to spell) to Hilko and then the other Taylor.

Gold scored again to go up 2-0 half way through and Black’s goose was cooked because we all know first goal usually wins and a 2-goal lead could reasonably trigger a mercy rule in these tournament games.

But wait!  With our season on the line, Black stormed back with late goals. Duncan did one of is patented end-to-ends, cut across the blue, pivoted to his fore-hand a ripped a wicked snapshot off the iron and in.  After the net stopped crying from the pain, Black came back again in short order and Bernie, with those silky mitts, knocked in a rebound reminiscent of Dino the Dog Cicerelli.  (Bernie’s 578 WOHL goals now have him 9th on the all time list by the way.)

In a move that eerily harkened back to a WOHL game from years past, Gold pulled their goalie in the last minute thinking they were down a goal.  Russell Hon, cross-eyed from lack of sleep after the recent arrival of a baby in his family, showed resilience and fired the biscuit 180 feet into the middle of the yawning cage with just 3 second left on the ticker to secure the win for Black.

Asked for a comment about how Gold got confused about the score in such a key moment, Rajna stormed off the stage at the post-game press scrum.

12:20: White vs Gold

White decided to leave it all out there in their 3rd and final game and came out flying.  Could have been the summer sausage, or the veg, but they were good.  Very good.  Kernel lead the way, as leaders will do at big moments.  He scored early on a pretty feed from Buchanan and the duo followed that up with another beauty two shifts later with Kernel getting the helper on Jamie’s ripper from the slot.

Down two, Gold’s crafty d-man Ian Taylor threw off his stay-at-home defensive armor and decided to join the rush.  Every rush.  Like every friggin’ rush, even those rushes where his team didn’t have control and it wasn’t really a rush.  Yes, as Gord Down wrote in The Lonely End of Rink, “Oh to join the rush!”  In fact, Taylor joined the rush so often it could only mean one thing – his brudder was in the opposing cage.  Sadly, the crest on said brudder’s jersey must have looked like a bulls-eye to him as every shot he took hit baby brudder right about there.  (Kudo’s to Andrew – it’s probably all he gave him).  However, the elder Taylor bro did wildly miss the net on one of his shots and it caromed out the other side where Hilko slammed it home to cut the lead in half.

It looked like it might end this way until the other gold Taylor, in his office in the neutral zone, snared a long lead pass from the old brother Taylor, and he proceeded to go 5-hole on the breakaway to tie things with two to go.  Taylor from Taylor against Taylor.  Karma is definitely either a babe or a bitch, isn’t it?

Sadly for White, Gold continued to press and forced that most hideous of mental errors in the W, the “last minute icing” with Gold’s tender out for the extra attacker.  I won’t name names here because I really didn’t see what happened by two rumours circulated post game: 1) goalie Taylor tried to score on the empty cage so he could finish the game tied with his brother in points and 2) Cowie tried to score thinking one more point would break the all-time tournament record for points.

Anyhoo…Gold was awarded the penalty shot, and Rajna, still steaming from the prior game’s goalie-pull debacle, pulled off a beautiful Forsberg to seal the win in dramatic fashion.

Come on!  Who isn’t excited about how this is going so far??!!

1:10: Black vs Red – (last game of the tournament too!)

A classic grudge match closed things out.  Match-ups were everywhere, with both teams shuffling like heavyweights looking for the advantage.  Gerson vs Thomas, Doerbecker vs Chevreau, Abbot vs Warmington, Duncan vs the Martin brudders, Further vs Bowra – cagey veterans, speed vs strength, hockey IQ vs will to win.  Clearly, there was no tomorrow today.

Heimpel was huge early and stunned Red with his wide speed being too much to handle and turning that into a pair of goals before the game was 5 minutes old.

Doerbecker and Abbot traded goals from the point leaving Black with a 3-1 lead.  But it wasn’t to be for Black.  Red stormed back, with Doerbecker going to coast to coast for his second of the game against his boyo in net to cut the lead to 1.  Tim Martin then fired one of his beauty wristers top corner to tie it.

Yours truly had a chance to win the drink for the Black side with 3 minutes to go but I toe-picked on a break-away from centre ice and swam to the bench embarrassed afterwards.  The puck went the other way and shortly afterwards, Warmington drilled home the eventual winner.

When asked post-game if he sees any comparisons between his shot and Mr Mathews of the Leafs, Warmington agreed there were some similarities.  Ah, the greats eh?

And The Winner Is…?

I’ll let you boys take it from here.  I hope you get over the aches and pains quickly lads.  Have a good summer, keep your stick on the ice and hopefully we’ll all be out there again soon.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Great Games, oldtimers, tournaments, Uncategorized, WOHL

Young Guns

Today’s tournament was a beauty.   The team I played on won the event, a rather modest 4-team format with most everyone knowing one another.   Our win was truly the result of us having two young guns who skated like the wind, handled the puck like it was theirs and theirs alone and some stellar goal-tending.   It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday – three games in twelve hours and that “good kind of tired” being the result at the end of the day.

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Tournament Tomorrow

Three games in a day in a four team tournament against a great bunch from Waterloo’s High Tech League.  I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday.  Can’t wait, especially after last night’s warm-up with the first night of the summer season.

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Lizard Liquor, Racoon Roadkill and The Great Pumpkin

Charles Schulz would have been proud if he’d been in Elmira today.  The creator of the Peanuts comic strip was an avid hockey fan.   However, as well as creating Charlie Brown and his merry band of carousing guy buddies, his colourful pooch Snoopy and some pretty saucy young dames, he also gave life to the unseen character known as the Great Pumpkin.

And so, had he been in Elmira today, he would have witnessed something almost as rare as a spotting of the Great Pumpkin itself, and that is the victory of the Golden Boot by the W’s Orange team (aka. Pumpkin).   It is well known lore in the W that Orange is a cursed colour to play for.   As Warmington said after the game, if you play for Orange, that should be worth about a 20 goal handicap before blades hit the ice.

But today was their day, from the jamming home of a goal on their first shift against my mates on White to their 3-0 record when all the games ended, today was a beautiful day to be Orange.

However, the W’s season finale isn’t really about winning.  (Ok, we all try pretty hard to win and White thinks it really should have won but that’s a topic for a different day).  No, the finale is more about enjoying all the good things that come from a bunch of like-minded blokes laughing and joking their way through a half a day each year to finish off a season.   During the regular season, you get maybe 15-20 minutes before and after each game to socialize (less if you’re me or Tim Ireland, more if you are the Sedin Twins, Jimmy David or Bernie).  On the day of the season ending tournament, you get to know people better.  Here’s a sampling of stuff I didn’t know when I woke up this morning:

– Warmington once picked up a road-killed racoon and threw it in the back of his Ford station wagon one winter night thinking he would give it to one of his buddies who traded coon pelts.  However, he promptly forgot about it, traded the Ford in one fine spring day before the thaw and heard later about the discovery coming as it did after some strange aromas needed to be investigated on the used car lot.

– Fulch’s Dad once decided the campground-sold firewood wasn’t for him and headed down the road into the bush, found a log to throw into the back of the wagon and drove back to the campground only to scare the beejeezus out of his travelling companion uncle when they discovered, much to the pain of his snake-fearing uncle that there was a snake’s nest in the log.  While “Snakes-in-a-Car” isn’t the snappy Hollywood title that “Snakes on a Plane” was, the fact that this was for real made it a better story

– someone’s hockey bag once had a nest of mice in it and they decided to leave their home while the owner and bag were en route to the rink in the car.  Again, this even less scary than Snakes-in-a-car but it has does have a charm of its own as hockey-bag stories go.  Upon hearing this someone commented “Where the hell does he keep his bag?”

– Ref Rich indicated that ref’ing some college girl games enabled him to learn that not all girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice.  While Rich doesn’t get intimidated by anyone in the W and is quite happy to laugh off any of us who get wound up at him for his calls / non-calls during the season, I think I heard his voice quiver a little as he described some of these college-girl games

– lastly, and I’m a bit biased in favour of Pat’s story-telling abilities, his story about a business trip to China was just as funny to me on the third telling as it was in the first.  (On the third go, we were sitting in Red’s dressing room eating their food and drinking their bevies after it had become clear they weren’t going to help us win by beating Orange in the final game).  In this particular yarn, which is too weird to be made up and proves that truth is stranger (and funnier) than fiction, Pat outlined how business on this particular trip seemed to get done during the big lunch and dinner feasts that had the eatees drowning in all kids of booze.  (In fact, I believe the Indonesian fellow who fell off his chair may have in fact actually drowned).   One morning after a particularly heavy feast the night before, one that Pat described by stating things were getting “pretty cloudy at the end”, they entered some chairman’s private dining room only to discover what appeared to be a five-gallon aquarium with a dead lizard on a stick, half in / half out of the aquarium, with all manner of fungus and seaweed and ginseng and other assorted life forms bubbling and growing.  “That’s ugly.” Pat suggested to his Canuck sidekick.  Ugly would have been fine had it not turned for the worse after lunch when the ladles came out and the hosts started pouring this unique brand of kool-aid into glasses for the businessmen to drink.  Makes a nice pull on on a cold beer after a game of hockey to chase down some smoke-cured sausage seem so civilized doesn’t it?

And so, another year is in the books.  The Golden Boot goes to Orange.  Here’s to Monday night’s symposium where we relive today one more time over chicken wings and just enough vegetables to make ourselves believe we’re eating healthy and staying in shape for next season.  And here’s to the second Monday in September when we open up those musty hockey bags and, after checking things first based on the what we learned from the tales above, throw on our gear to begin a new season.

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Filed under Food, Friendships, oldtimers, Quotes, Smells, tournaments, WOHL

What Makes a Great Hockey Team?

Good refreshments.  And so, with the White team gelling nicely via email this week in anticipation of Saturday’s season close-out tournament, the talk was decidedly around who was bringing what to the rink to replenish the machine between games.   I’m almost embarrassed to say that I don’t think Martha Stewart could have planned this any better.  The only thing I didn’t read someone bringing was a table cloth and some doilies.

On the upside, man does not live on ice alone.  And so on that note, our list so far includes gatorade, water, mennonite sausge, portugese sausage, various cheeses, nachos and dip, assorted fruits and veggies (seriously, who drafted that guy?).   Blue, Orange, Red – look out.  If nourishment alone can fuel a team for victory, we’ll be tough to beat.

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Let The Tournament Begin

The much anticipated email from the freshly-minted captains of this year’s end-of-year WOHL tourney were sent yesterday.  And the verdict is…White is the new Blue.

Yes, I’ll be trading in my blue sweater for a white one late Thursday night.  White looks solid,  really solid.  As much as I’ll have blue tatooed on my chest forever, it is just a wash-off tatoo and by post-game Thursday night, I’ll be as white as white on rice.

The year-end tournament is an epic event and one all WOHL’ers look forward to.  Five hours on a Saturday where each team gets three 40-minutes games.  In between, there is a literal feast going on since most of us will have skipped breakfast to get to the rink on time as well as a figurative feast of trash-talk, taunts and hockey blarney.

And of course, we get to play hockey.

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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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High Points

I’ve had a million moments of joy playing hockey.   My memories in this emotional horn of plenty range from my earliest days of having a stick in my hand until present day.  My dad claims it started even before that when I was three weeks old.  He said that on a particular Saturday night, my mom was out and I was being fussy enough that he couldn’t settle me down in my room.  He finally decided that if he couldn’t make me go to sleep there, there was no point in him missing the game so he took me to the basement rec room where Hockey Night in Canada beckoned and lo and behold, I settled right down.

From that point on, and every day since, there have been some pretty dandy hockey days.  As Badger Bob used to say every day: “it’s a great day for hockey.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Having said that, in one’s life, there are always moments that stand out, some for no particular reason, some for obvious reasons.  In my hockey life, here’s a few moments where I went to sleep at night a pretty happy camper.

  • watching (and coaching) as my son scored the winning goal in the championship game at the buzzer in the first overtime in his 3rd year of play.  We had a face-off just outside our zone, right in front of our bench, with 8 seconds left on the clock in the first overtime.  He poked the puck straight ahead off the draw went right between both defencemen and beat their goalie with a wrister as the buzzer went.   It doesn’t get better than that.  My dad was there to see it.  An awesome day.
  • in the dressing room after winning COSSA in grade 11.  We won the title at home in Peterborough. It was a 3 game round-robin and we had to win or tie the third game to advance. Our high school had been let out to watch the game and we were so excited that before the game our coach, Dave Bowen, kept saying “you have to play with your head, not your heart.  Keep the adrenalin in check”.  It was one of the rare times I experienced a game with the arena packed with fans.  It was one of the Kinsmen rinks that really didn’t have much in the way of seats for fans, just some benches on each side of the ice.  There was probably 500-1000 people there and when our line scored early, the roar was huge.  What a rush.  I think we tied the game but that was enough.  OFSAA was up next and I remember the pure adrenalin of having won COSSA and us screaming and chanting in the room afterwards.
  • the day my dad signed me up for hockey for the first time.  I can remember dancing around the kitchen so excited
  • every game where Darren Howe, our leader on the Grand River League Mutual Life team, chirped his own guys with one-liners that were the envy of every comedian the world over.  He was one funny dude
  • coming up just short in a one-day tournament in Norwood in which our St. Anne’s team was entered where we had played a team from Markham.  They were dressed up like an NHL team and had about 51 players.   I remember looking at them in the warm-up and being intimidated and thinking we were going to get eaten like kittens.  We didn’t.  We really played hard.  We were down 3-0 at one point but had hit goal posts, cross bars and were very frustrated.  We got one late in the second and then scored again with less than a buck to play to make it 3-2 and forced them to hang on.  We played awesome, probably way over our heads but man was it fun to claw our way back into it late.
  • Eating dinner at Yorkdale mall in grade 10 and 11 with my St. Pete’s teammates when we were staying at the Holiday Inn nearby while taking part in the Father David Bauer tournament in Rexdale.  They lost money on the buffet those days I’m pretty sure.
  • the bus ride home from Ottawa in high school after COSSA in grade 10 where we had advanced to OFSAA.  It was a Friday and there was a high school dance that night.  Wine women and song were the spoils ahead even though most of us were too young / timid to drink much, most of the women went to the older guys who were better players.  We could dream though and the tunes on the bus and at the dance made a good time better.
  • the day my son scored his first goal
  • the day I scored my first goal, at the same age (8) that my son was when he scored his
  • my first game back after a 6 week layoff in grade 11 after injuring my foot.  I scored a hat trick and we won.  I was a role player and not only missed playing while I was hurt but really didn’t want to lose my spot on the team.  It was wonderful.  I didn’t really have a remarkable game but things just fell into place that game and as the saying goes, they all count.  I went home very happy that night.
  • watching Paul De Marchi have a ridiculous game in net against Campbellford in a tournament in Keene in our mid teens as part of one of our St. Anne’s teams with Ed and Brian at the helm.  He was a great goalie who always played his best in key games.  This was the either the tournament championship or consolation final but we got absolutely outplayed the entire game.  We were a bit older and so if we had lost it wouldn’t have been as disappointing as if we had been 9 or 10 years old.  However, we somehow scored two early and won the game 3-2 but but he stopped so many shots, and made so many ridiculous saves that I remember us joking with him during stoppages in play that he needed to play a little harder.

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Peterborough’s Snofest Tournament

Peterborough’s annual Snofest High School Hockey Tournament, which I think lives on, was traditionally held around the first week in January.  It was part of a winter-carnaval thing the city did and I remember they also had snowmobile races around the track in the fairgrounds outside the Memorial Centre, the High Cathedral of Hockey in Peterborough.  Anyway, it was a treat to play in the tourney because we were the host city and playing at the Mem Centre wasn’t something we got to do very often.  (The arena is still the home of the Pete’s and has one of the most unusual shapes of any arena I’ve ever played in with almost square corners).

I remember one year (I think I was in grade 11) when our St. Pete’s team made it to the semi-finals where we played East York Collegiate from Toronto.  They were a very good team, as were we, but I recall we were hurting a bit and they were a very big team.

Prior to the game, I remember having serious trouble doing up my skates because I had one of those nasty hip pointers, a bruise right on the bone that is so sore when you move the joint, you just don’t wanna move the joint.  Bending at the waist to do up one’s skates was pure torture.  Anyway, I also had the flu with a screaming sore throat and headache, which didn’t help matters.

Now, as one of the smaller guys who really didn’t like the heavy going when it got really rough, East York wasn’t my idea of a fun team to play against.  However, I was no chicken either and played in my share of rough spots over the years and wasn’t one who ever asked a coach to sit me out for any reason.  I always wanted to play.

On this day though, with a really sore hip and just feeling really tough in general, I remember asking coach Dave Bowen something about either reducing my ice time or scratching me from the lineup altogether.   I remember him very clearly telling me we were missing some guys and I had to play.  (Knowing this, perhaps I was a bit chicken and he was calling me on it).

Anyway, my stay of execution was not to be….and this term is fitting because very early in the game, (I cannot remember if it was my first shift or not), the puck came around the boards in our end to me on the right wing.   It was the perfect storm.  I was too sore and sick to handle any aspect of the play correctly.  I got there late, was flat-footed, had my head down (although having my head up wouldn’t have helped) and was about 70 pounds light.  Their guy saw all of the above and came in with bomb doors full open.  Angels sang, trumpets sounded.  He filled me in but good.

I can still feel the hit.  I can still hear the hit.  Really I can.  I’m not sure if I was concussed because I don’t think we checked such things very often back then and I had a good headache before the hit.  I went down hard though.  The play was stopped and I had to be helped off.   It’s really quite funny to me now – I remember getting to the bench, sitting down and just putting my head down slowly, not sure if it might just roll right off.  Gawd, I ached.  Down the bench, ol’ Mister Bowen looks down to me and says I needed to sit out the next shift.   I remember nodding.  That’s it.  Just a nod.

I played the rest of the game.  We lost 2-1.  I went home, layed down on the couch, took a lot of aspirin or tylenol or whatever my mom had in the house for pain and flu and just didn’t move.  It’s funny what you remember at times like this.  I remember my parents went to Saturday night mass and I was home alone, really, really glad not to be moving.

I wasn’t much better on Sunday and I did not go to school on Monday.  It was the first day of high school I had missed in three years.  I remember Mr. Bowen smiling on Tuesday when I attended his history class asking how I was and acknowledging, with what seemed to me to be genuine surprise, that I really must have been sick.

 

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Blue

“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.

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