The Boy’s team is in a post-Christmas qualification tournament which is part of a prestigious tourney called the International Silver Stick whose origins date back to 1958. This tournament is touted as the largest in North America and includes teams from Canada and the U.S. in the spirit of “Citizenship and International Goodwill through Silver Stick hockey”. Several qualification tournaments are held on both sides of the border in December leading up to the Finals tournament in mid-January. The current tourney started today and will run over the next three.
The Boy and his mates came out a little sluggish in game one against a team they knew had a pretty good resume; “rumour” had it this team came into the tournament undefeated on the year. Our Boys looked like they suffered from a combination of jitters, sugar plums and roasted turkey complete with stuffing and gravy. The rivals scored a goal about six minutes into the first period. Based on the sluggish start, the situation did not look good. But as the game went on the Boys started to get their legs. They really started to take the game to the other team and were certainly getting better scoring. Both teams were assessed some questionable penalties by the referee; who may himself have still been feeling the effects of a bountiful Yuletide feast. However, after two periods it was still 1-0 as the chances remained nothing more than chances.
That disappointing fact would change in the third. The Boys broke through and converted a chance a couple of minutes into the final frame. Another goal would follow not more than a minute later. The good guys, cheered on by their now ecstatic fans, would make the score 3-1 with less than 10 minutes left. Down by two goals and with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, the opposing coach decided to pull his goaltender and go with six skaters. The Boys quickly took advantage of the empty net to seal the victory. But they, or at least one of them was not done yet.
In one of the most impressive shifts and individual efforts of the season, one of the Boy’s teammates hopefully set a tone for the rest of the tournament. On this second last shift of the game he started by getting in front of and blocking two shots from opposing defencemen.
The second blocked shot ricocheted off his skate and directly back past the defenceman who had let the shot go. The defenceman turned to retrieve the puck, but our player was hot on his heels. The intrepid forward beat his counterpart to the puck and then muscled his way through both the bewildered defenceman and his teammate who tried to come back to support him. With two players left in his wake, he made his way towards a no doubt startled goaltender. He launching a quick wrist shot that made its way through the keeper and into the waiting mesh behind him.
Five goals in one game, much less one period, has been hard to come by for this team this year. A lot of that has to do with the level of the competition they face. But today, at least, they overcame the competition with a strong display of hustle and determination; capped by the second last shift of the contest. These are the types of plays and games coaches look for to propel a team to new levels. Time will tell if that purpose is served. For now, we’ll just look for an equally spirited effort in game two tomorrow morning.