April 18, 2011
Sports is a funny thing. Unlike a movie, or a TV show, or a book, in sports, you never know what is going to happen, and it’s never over until it’s over.
On Sunday afternoon, my beer league hockey team, the Vancouver Flying Vees, for which I play goal, won our division championship for the second time since winning it our first season, when we joined the league in 2004/2005.
At the beginning of this season, way back in September, I don’t think any member of our team would have predicted a championship. We lost our first six straight games, our worst start ever, then had another long stretch of the season when we went winless in seven games, during which we were dropped a division, then lost the first two games in the new division by scores of 10-5 and 8-2. We went into the playoffs a couple weeks ago and lost our first game 3-2.
But then, we suited up for our requisite second playoff game that the league owed us (each team gets two playoff games minimum), and low and behold we WON in convincing fashion, 4-1. The following tie-breaker was scoreless, so we went into a shootout. We scored once, they didn’t score on any of their three opportunities and suddenly we were off the semi-final. Goodbye, Irish Heather Wild Boars, hello Jackals. Again, we played hard and fast and beat the Jackals fairly handily by the score of 4-2.
Yesterday, it was the final, against a team called the Buffalo Chicken Pack, which is somehow fitting since their jerseys were take-offs on the original Buffalo Sabres jerseys, and trivia fans will know that the Sabres and Canucks entered the NHL in the same year… Buffalo were almost immediately a great team, whereas as the Canucks sucked for years. Vengeance for the early-era Canucks was ours on Sunday.
Things didn’t look good when they scored first. We had all the pressure, but a turnover at their blue line sent a Buffalo player in on a long, clear-cut, angled breakaway, and he deked me out of my jock-strap to open the scoring. But then, with less than five seconds left in the first period, Chris “Nitzy’s Hockey Den” Mizzoni streaked into their zone and lasered a pass to the goal crease where Nick “Lock-Eye” Thomas (my old partner in crime in The Smugglers), redirected the puck into the net, scoring with less than one second in the period!
Anytime any one scores a buzzer-beater, it’s a momentum swing for the scoring team and we rode it, as Jeremy “Bomber” Bidnall (bassist for International Falls among others) quickly scoring from the same spot, doorstep five-hole. We then held them to that score well into the third period, when the Buffalo Chicken Pack really starting stampeding into our zone trying to tie it.
One of their players fed a perfect pass from behind the net to a wide-open player in front, who one-timed it into the low corner of the net. They started wildly celebrating their tying goal, until they heard the ref yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” What?!?!
NO GOAL! Yours truly managed to slide post-to-post, just getting a toe on the puck, holding it right on the goal line. We were able to kill the final few minutes of the game and then the sweetest sound of all… the final buzzer. A 2-1 championship victory for the Vancouver Flying Vees. Goodbye Buffalo Chicken Pack, hello championship trophy!
Six players remain from the group that won the first championship seven seasons ago.
You can see an entire slideshow of pretty much the whole game, and the locker-room victory celebration, here.