Category Archives: tournaments

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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Filed under High School, Play-offs, tournaments

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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