So I walk through the door at the front desk, and I say to Roxanne, ?Hey Roxanne, I guess you won?t see me much this weekend, we are going to a big Oldtimer tournament in Dawson Creek?. She is working on the computer, doesn?t look up, ?Uh huh?. I keep walking through, ?Yeah, a team dropped out, and since we won the ?B? division last year, they moved us up to the ?A? division?. Roxanne, just about putting her face print on the computer, with fake interest mumbles ?Really??. I stand there quietly for five seconds, then say, ?Yep, a few guys are going to play in the Recreation division too?. With no eye contact she says, ?That?s nice?. After five more seconds of silence, I say, ?I?ll be in my office?. I take about five steps, then I hear ?What did you say about hockey??
In the first game Friday night, the Tumbler Ridge ?Avalanche Trucking? Oldtimers played the Ft. St. John Kalmar team. ?The last time we played these guys we lost 9-0?, I tell the guys in a motivational effort. It was like we defaulted a baseball game. The periods are 2 ? 30 minute run times. Kalmar goes up a quick 2-0 before the first ten minutes. As time moves on, Larry Urness arrives on the doorstep to slam home a rebound to cut the lead in half. The period ends 2-1.
Each team sends three shooters to the shootout after the first period. The speedy Jason Collison skates in; pump fakes the shot, steps to the side and drills it along the ice for a goal. ?The bench told me to freeze the goalie and drill it, and that?s what I did. I don?t got this ?A? on my shirt for nothing, and just to clarify, it stands for ?Assistant Captain?.
In the second period, Brian Wylie banged home a rebound early to tie the game at two. But the Kalmar team outlasted us, notching two more markers for a 4-2 win.
Collison found himself in some rough play in the process of defending his net. Late in the period, with the play swirling throughout the Tumbler Ridge defensive zone, an offensive player was jockeying for position. There were slashes and shoves as the puck was passed around the perimeter. The last shove saw the 6?6″ Kalmar player take two steps towards our 5?10″ defender, only to find himself flattened on the ice. At that point the referee sent both players to the box with minor penalties. ?This isn?t the first time I went up against eight more inches and came out on top?, noted the ?stay out of our crease? defenseman. Goaltender Dave Taylor played great for Tumbler Ridge. ?We did awesome out there. I figured it was going to be a lot worse?, commented the netminder.
Meanwhile, on the Recreation side of the tournament, a few TR players joined up with Kirby and Jaret Lenart to play for N & N Autobody. They won their first game easily 7 ?1, with Doug Taylor scoring four goals. ?Doug had about 40 shots?, noted hard-nosed centre Dennis Campbell. ?If they didn?t have a good goalie, it would have been a sure double digits?.
Game two for the Oldtimers on Saturday pitted them against the Totem team from Ft. St. John. It was a see saw battle, as the Totems scored, then Collison tied it. They scored again, before Urness sent Thomas in on a quick breakaway to tie the period with less than two minutes left. Dan Golob scored on his shootout shot. ?I?m just glad to be here. I want to pitch in and help the team where I can?, noted the reticent left-winger.
With 18 minutes to go in the second period, Goaltender Dave Taylor left the game with an undisclosed lower body injury. ?I pulled my groin?, moaned the puck stopper. Luckily, premier pivot Dean Turner, sporting Alex Mogilny?s old number 89 for some reason, had his sister Terri in the stands, who just happened to be a goalie her own self. She hurriedly got dressed and entered the game between the pipes. She held the Totems to a single goal, but alas the Av?s dropped their second game 6-4. ?It was too bad because Dave got injured but stayed in the net for the team, and they scored a couple of goals before he just couldn?t play anymore. That was the difference?, reflected hard driving forward Jim Jung, playing in his first tournament ever.
Back to the Recreation division for game two. Another tough and grinding game saw Doug Taylor pot another 3 goals, with Jaret Lenart adding a pair in a 6-3 victory. Journeyman Phil Dufresne: ?It?s gut check time. Everybody is contributing; all lines are firing. It feels good out there. Absolutely?.
The Avalanche Trucking Oldtimers woke up Sunday morning and felt great. But no one could understand how they fell behind 4-0 after the first five minutes. ?Oh yeah, we had way more fun than them last night!?, noted rookie forward Scott Trim. Doesn?t matter. We still owned the highlight of the game. And that was this.
With the game out of reach for TR and about 90 seconds to go, #48 Collison gets the puck just over centre ice and heads towards the goal. He is one on one with the defenseman. The nifty forward turns his stick over and pins the puck against the ice, skating with it like a ring in a ringette stick. The defenseman looks straight at the cocky forward and just smiles with a look of ?you think you are getting that by me??. #48 dipsy doodles forward, swinging the puck left to right. He freezes the defenseman as he fakes to the right, then with a Savardian spin-o-rama deke quickly turns his back to the net, slides right around the defenseman, and rips a backhander by the goalie, who seems no less mesmerized by the highlight reel goal. Small victory in the final game thrashing.
?We told them we wanted to be in the ?B? division, they bumped us to the ?A?. I?m glad we did because the competition was great. We were close in the first two games. Our first string goalie went down, and Terri was a welcome player. It was a heck of a ride, and we look forward to playing these guys in our tournament March fourth and fifth. And in the words of Jimmy Stewart, in the spirit of George Bailey, remember, ?Nobody is born to be a failure?, and ?No man is poor if he has friends.?? noted Assistant Captain Fred Banham.
In game three, our Recreation Division representatives also got off to what Phil described as a ?slow start? on Sunday morning, falling behind a quick 2-0. In contrast to the Oldtimer team, they found a way to turn it around. Power forward Taylor notched two short-handed goals, leading the team to a 3-2 first period close. The second period saw them get into some penalty trouble, but in the end they earned a birth in the championship game with a 5-2 victory.
When I arrived on the scene of the final game four, the boys were winning 3-2 with 10 minutes to go. Dennis Campbell was handed a checking from behind penalty (?I didn?t do it? ? Dennis), and received a game misconduct with a few minutes to go. The other team was thinking about pulling their goalie in favour of an extra attacker, when who else but Doug got a pass at centre ice, went into the zone 1-1, and drilled a wrist shot over the goalie?s blocker to push it to 4-2, where it ended.
?Well this has been quite the weekend in Dawson Creek?, noted spectator and avid hockey fan Brenda Banham. ?The TR guys played seven games in total, and we are going home four wins and three losses, with a championship. And Fred was great out there. Rufus will be proud?.
On a somber note, the TR Avalanche Trucking Oldtimers made a donation in the memory of Ron St. Germaine, a Dawson Creek Oldtimer Hockey player who passed away in late December. We played against Ron, as well as with him, as he joined us last October at the Chetwynd tournament when we were short players. His passing was sudden and very sad for friends and family. At the request of the family, a donation was made to Dawson Creek Minor hockey in Ron?s name.