Monday, April 4, 2011

Simply, The Best

What a surprise. Another blog about hockey. :)
This one is a little different though.
Our family is in total agreement that this past weekend was the best and most successful sports weekend that we have ever had.

I dare not diminish the baseball championship that they won last fall. That was certainly outstanding and was the first time that any team the boys have been on had gone all the way to get the big prize at the end of the season.

But with all things considered and how it all played out, this past weekend was one that will never be forgotten.

It didn't start out too well though.
Over the past couple of weeks we've been having fabulous warm weather which had done a nice job of melting the huge piles of snow that have been around us for months.
Then last Friday, April Fool's Day, Mother Nature decided to play a joke on us and pounded us with a snowstorm.
The boys' semi-final hockey game was scheduled to go in the late afternoon.
Initially we were convinced that the game was going to be cancelled due to the horrendous road conditions but as the afternoon went on it became clear that the show would go on.

The final Championship game was to be played the next day so if the semi-final was cancelled there was no place to squeeze it in before the final game.

Personally I wasn't too thrilled with this. I didn't see the sense of people risking their lives because the FYHA couldn't find a way to move things around.

I was at our Fredericton office not too far from the arena but Cheryl was going to have to drive all the way from New Maryland through the blizzard with the boys to get to the rink.
T had been sick and didn't go to school that day. It didn't look like he would be able to play anyway.
B was coming out of a cold and was still sniffly and achy.
We decided that this was not going to happen. Our sons were just going to have to miss the game.

T had a long nap that afternoon. When he woke up he announced that he was ready to play if the game was on.
B was ready to go no matter how he felt.

So Cheryl made a couple of calls to parents of some other players who live in our area and have better vehicles for handling the road conditions.
Cheryl and T were picked up by one family and B was picked up by another and I met them at the rink.

I was surprised but everyone on our team made it to the rink on time. The other team was missing a player or two but was ready to go.
The referee and two linesman were there on time and the game went on.

It started out a little slowly but our team eventually got their groove and the barrage of goals against the other team began.

As the game went on I was sending out updates on my Facebook and Twitter of the score.
A friend whose son is on the other team and is on Facebook had decided against trying to get to the arena. When she realized that it was her son's team we were playing she jokingly sent a message asking if our kids could maybe not beat them so badly.

Well, once that train started down that track nothing I could say would slow it down.

Our kids ended up winning 7-0.
B got himself another hat-trick for good measure.

When I think about it now it could have gone either way even though the score doesn't reflect that.
It seemed that the other team's goalie was just having a bad day and missed some things that he usually could have saved.
In our end our goalies were pulling off some awesome saves that they may not have done on another day.
I do admit that our team is quite strong with B and T and several other good players but I don't know if they were 7-0 strong.

Regardless, they did it and had to rest up and get sleep before the big game the next day.

The Championship game was against the Stars who had become our biggest rivals. We just didn't like them. There were a couple of kids on there who weren't always the cleanest players.
We played them in the Hampton tournament a little while back and they beat us in overtime with the help of some very puzzling officiating.

One of the players who is in B's class at school made sure that he bragged aloud to everyone how they beat B's team for the gold medal.

Plus, they beat us in a shootout for the bronze medal in the Christmas tournament.

We did beat them a couple of weeks ago but I was really hoping that we would not have to play them again.
No such luck.

My guys went to bed early Friday night, had a great breakfast on Saturday and ate some raisins for energy as I told them to do.
T still was not feeling 100% but would hold his own.

For some bizarre reason the top scorer on the other team was away and didn't play.
The game should be a breeze then right?
Not likely.

The Stars scored first and were ahead 1-0 for a very long time. They were playing a solid game. It was scary to think what would have happened if their star player was there.
For some reason our best players were having a hard time getting the job done. Plus, the other goalie was pulling out some magic from midair with some of his saves.

Finally we scored a goal and tied it up in the second period. It was 1-1.

Well into the third period I was really thinking that this thing would go into overtime and I wasn't thrilled with the thought.

With 8 minutes left in the third, B did one of his spectacular end-to-end, deke 'em all plays and popped the puck into the top corner past the goalies glove. That was good timing, I'll say.

Now could they hold on for eight more minutes to win this thing?
I should mention that this game was three, fifteen minute stop-time periods which was different than usual. In regular games the play was straight-time non-stop up until the last five minutes of the game when it became stop-time.

A couple of minutes later our fears were realized when the Stars tied it up.
Regulation time ended with a 2-2 score and it was going into overtime. (I'm convinced that overtime was created to make anyone watching or involved with the game go insane with frazzled nerves.)

The overtime period was a wild one to say the least. There were so many opportunties and so many saves to beat them I couldn't count.
But no-one scored and they had to go into a shootout. Rats.

To me a shootout is a terrible way to end any game of any kind. Admittedly each team has several chances and uses different players for each shot but I really don't think it's a fair representation of the team's skills.

Each team had 4 shooters take their turns and each team had 1 goal to show for it.

The Stars player went down for the fifth shot and was blocked out by our goalie.

Then our fifth player got ready to go.
This boy is an awesome player and had done some excellent plays over the season but seemed to have a tendency of shooting the puck directly at the goalie rather than where the goalie wasn't.

If there was ever a time for him to do this differently this was it. I was right down by the other team's net and watched him coming down. I almost didn't want to look but did so anyway.

It's a darn good thing that I did too. The lad pulled some magic out of his hat and zipped a perfect wrist shot into the corner.

Gold Medal! Sweet. It wasn't the prettiest victory but it worked perfectly for me.
Those other losses to these guys didn't matter anymore. This was the game that counted and our kids did it.

What a moment. It's impossible to tell you just how proud we felt. Beyond words.

The team manager had made a very wise decision to have the end-of-season party that same evening at Killarney Lodge up at Killarney Lake just north of Fredericton.

That was such a blast. The coaches and manager had gone and had trophies made for every player AND gave them the gift of a new graphite stick each!
Cheryl did up one of her special Odes to the Peewee Sharks and read it to everyone. She did a spectacular job too.
The Ode is a poem.
My father started composing Odes many years ago when he lived in Toronto and would write one every time a friend was retiring or moving on or whenever a special occasion came along.
He wrote Odes for the weddings of my sister and myself too.
For the last couple of years Cheryl has started doing them and is a natural talent at them.

There was great food and assorted sweets for everyone to load up on.

I was very impressed with the cake. Here is a photo of it.

You would think that this day could not get any more awesome than that wouldn't you?
It's not over yet.

Tha assistant coach had everyone over to his house for the kids to play road hockey in the court.
It was raining a bit but the kids had a blast.
Inside the house the adults were treated to chicken wings, fruit trays, vegetable dips and whatever beverages we desired. (The assistant coach works for a huge international beverage manufacturer and gets a pretty good deal.)

It felt like the evening should be winding down before long when the assistant coach mentioned something about the Varsity Reds.

PARDON?? What did he say?? I must be hearing things!!

You see, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team proved just last week that they are the best team in the entire country by winning the University Cup in the final CIS tournament in Fredericton.

This is the some of the best hockey I have ever seen. (With the exception of our kids' games of course. ) :)
Our family has attended as many of these games as we could over the last several years and we love it. The boys can name every player on the team. Fredericton's university hockey is without question the best show in town.
The Varsity Reds players define what being a top athlete really is. Their skills are outstanding. Their coach is regarded as one of the best in the sport.
Plus, they are all great guys.

We had met some of them on numerous occasions and they are always friendly and happy to talk to a fan.
Truly a great bunch of lads and absolutely deserving of the national crown.

B and I went to one of the CIS tournament games and T and I were at the final game.

Anyway, back to this.

The assistant coach informed us that most of the UNB team was across the road at that very moment having a party and the University Cup was with them!

It doesn't get much better than that.

Check this out.

Yep, that's my sons holding the University Cup with most of their favourite UNB players in the picture with them.
Unfortunately our top favourite player, Hunter Tremblay, was not there. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers a couple of days before and was on his way to Oklahoma to join the farm team. That's a shame for us but excellent for him.
We've loved watching him play and are really going to miss having him in town but we certainly hope he becomes a star in the NHL as he was here.
I know the boys were thrilled with the whole scene but I was on cloud 9 too.

So, that's the story of what was the Scammell's best sports weekend.

So far... :)

Stay well,

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