Category Archives: tournaments

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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Filed under coaches, High School, injuries, tournaments

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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Filed under Championships, tournaments, WOHL

THE Tournament

The WOHL’s annual Christmas tournament goes tomorrow night.  Two hours filled with three mini-games for each of the league’s four teams.  Not exactly 16 wins required over 2+ months to bring home Stanley but a test of character and endurance nonetheless.

I’m hoping (and pretty sure) the boys stayed in this weekend, mentally and physically preparing for Monday night.   We’ll gather with family and partake in the delight of Christmas feasts real soon, but that will be far from our minds as game day dawns tomorrow.

Blue will be ready.  Pumpkin, White and Red – will you?

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The Father David Bauer Tournament

The St. Pete’s High School team that I played on competed in the Father David Bauer tournament for a couple of years in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  In fact, the 1979 tournament was the inaugural event.  I was in grade 10 for that first tournament and played exactly two shifts in a total of five games in the tournament.   While I would have preferred to have played more, I was just happy to be on the team and it made me hungrier for the next year’s event.

Both year’s tournaments were a ball of fun.  A hockey team of high school boys staying at a Toronto hotel (the Holiday right next to Yorkdale Mall, just down the 401 from Pine Point Arena) over a Thursday to Sunday long weekend is a tough event for the participants not to enjoy.  I have so many funny memories from those two year’s events.  There was the swims in the pool where the boys were trying to get enough arc off the diving board to see if they could get a hand on the huge hanging flower garden that was suspended over the pool.  Not sure what they would have done had the got a hold of it.  Yikes.

There were the pillow fights where we actually donned our helmets because getting the hell thrashed out of you by a pillow repeatedly really can give you a headache.  There were the rather benign hazing rituals like wedgies and so forth at the hands of the team veterans, although in one case I remember someone (who shall be nameless here to protect the innocent) getting a pillow case taped over his head and put on to the elevator and sent to the lobby (and every floor in between) in his drawers.

There were the grand buffet dinners at the Eaton’s in the mall – not a whole lot of eating discipline going on there for this group of growing lads.  There was the shouts from the balcony at the boys from Ottawa as they left for home defeated , whose sticks had gone missing and who were might pissed because of it, where we thanked them for the firewood we had at our team bonfire the previous night.

I remember having a really great tournament the second year, where my 3rd-line mates (Dan McDougall and Pete Sullivan) and I chipped in far more goals than were expected of us.

We lost soundly in the finals of the 1980 tournament to Henry Carr who would also beat us later that year in the OFSSA semi-finals.

bauer

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From A Tournament A Long Time Ago

 I dredged up this old button from a bag in the basement of old hockey stuff I’ve kept forever.  I remember playing in a couple of tournaments in the Keene Arena as a house-leaguer.  Great times.  Otonabee Township is just south of the Peterborough City limits and where my ancestors settled way, way back in the early 1800’s.  You know, when the winters started in late August, lasted until May and the pucks kids used to play hockey on frozen ponds with were just a frozen horse turd.

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40 Years On

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the opening game of the ’72 summit series.  I don’t remember the first game, which we lost 7-3 in Montreal, and which apparently was quite a national shock.   The video clip of Game 1 highlights found at this link is really interesting to watch.  The talent level was very high on both sides.  The Canadians actually lead 2-0 very early.   A young Bobby Orr, watching from the sidelines, his knee already damaged to the point his best years were behind him, is perhaps as hard to see as anything.   How different would this series have been with him, (and/or Bobby Hull) playing?

There is a certain romance to the odd sounding Russian names all these years later.  Kharlamov, Maltsev, Petrov, Yakushev, Mikhailov.  I know some purists will say Clark tipped the balance in Canada’s favour by breaking Kharlamov’s ankle, and while I’m not condoning that, Mikhailov was as dirty a player as Clark so I don’t buy that argument.

I remember watching snippets of some of the other games and of course, I remember watching the final game which I’ll post more about in the coming days but for the most part, the series is not something I can recall in vivid detail.  I was a young boy at the time, and was either about to begin my first year of organized hockey or my second.  It was much like the Olympics in its uniqueness.

Details aside however, it was a pretty cool thing to follow if you were as hockey-crazy as I was.   I was too young to appreciate what a “cold war” was.  Although I was obviously cheering for the home side, I suspect the notion of patriotism was a little vague.  Nationalism – what’s that?  For me, it was just about hockey.  Funny, it still is.

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Filed under Canada, Soviets, tournaments

Montreal III – The Meat of the Weekend

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?”

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