Let me get my thoughts on the American refereeing out of the way because it was a big theme for the weekend. It was often bizarre and even completely backwards at times. We had an allowed goal against us on an unmoored net that cost us the championship and needless to say we felt pretty screwed over. But in reality, that wasn’t even the worst call. The American referees never called a single Hitting from Behind penalty even though several occurred and I can’t help but feel like I let my boys down because I didn’t call the referee over and show them the little red stop sign on the backs of our players jerseys and tell him that if he wasn’t going to call those penalties that I might have to consider taking my boys off the ice. It might be poor sportsmanship but right now I’m just grateful that no one got seriously hurt.
The Hockey – The First 3 Games
Now that that’s out of the way, there was actually some good hockey played in this tournament. Some of these teams were just assembled and haven’t really had any bonding time so unfortunately for River Valley, that meant a 13-0 drubbing by the Elks. Matthew Vis, who scored the first goal of the game, proudly proclaimed that he scored the game winner. He is clutch. Speaking of clutch, Gage Bechard scored a hatrick in this game and Kevin Janik had a hatrick of assists, which they both earned badges for from the tournament organizers.
Next we played White Bear Lake, who actually brought the “Canadian Hockey” to us. They were physical and jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the cardiac kids came back with John Zurkan scoring the game winner and the clincher in a 5-2 win.
We came out very flat for Des Moines being outshot 13-3 in the first but Jeremy Moore, who was our best player all weekend, shut the door keeping it scoreless. In the 2nd and 3rd, we outshot Des Moines. Hayden Hickey scored to make it 1-0. They came back on a very nice individual effort and of course, as mentioned, this game was decided on a pretty poor call in my estimation. I was proud of how the boys pushed through and kept coming and we actually managed to score one second after the buzzer.
A Gathering of Families
After the Des Moines game, Greg and I spent the 20 minute drive from the rink in Grantsburg to Siren bemoaning the outcome of that game. It was a tough, tough loss but at least we had one more game tomorrow to get that bad taste out. It also helped that we were going to The Pour House in Siren for a team and families dinner. The food was great, everyone was having a great time, and Matthew Vis was keeping a lot of us in stitches. I’ll never not take my left-overs home again because that would make me a bad Dutchman.
After dinner many of us ended up at the hotel pool. The guys played battled with one player sitting on smothers shoulders, which even included a coupe rounds of Coach Travis with Juha Ylinen sitting up on my shoulders but maybe the highlight of the whole weekend was the spontaneous and oddly organized game of what I can only assume is called Water Bottle Water Football broke out. Matthew, Juha, Justin McGinnis, and Eric Krasnichuk took on hated WBWF rivals, Jordan Gaudette, Hayden, Jordan Pleson, and Brad Gagnon. Soon a good-sized gathering of adults had lined there deck chairs beside the pool laughing, cheering, and applauding the game. This was special.
At night, after the players had gone to their rooms, the coaches, parents and Syd McGinnis (Justin’s brother), would hang out in the hotel lobby and visit. Syd, as it would happen, is a goaltender but isn’t playing hockey this year. He’d be eligible to play midget next season and he’d look great in purple!
Hanging out with the parents was a blast! We shared lots of stories and laughs. As cliché as it may sound, we really couldn’t ask for a better collection of kids and parents this year and hearing some of the favorable responses that have been directed towards myself, Greg, Jordan Hay, and Scotty has really meant so much.
The Hockey – The Final Game
To wash the bad taste out of our mouths from the Des Moines debacle, we got to have one last game against Crow River who were probably the second weakest team at the tournament. We had already solidified 2nd Place so we told the boys to have fun. Our guys maybe played a bit sloppy but they also put on quite the show including Hayden’s “Swimming” goal celebration, a one-on-two dangle-fest by Pleson who then went “bar down” on the goaltender, and many, many hijinx from the always hilarious, Mr. Vis. Jeremy, as he was the entire tournament, was a brick wall earning his second shutout of the tournament!
I can’t say enough how great this weekend was but before this blog post gets any longer, let me mention just a few more things in point form:
- The arena announcer, Russ, having fun with our team calling out “Matthew Visssssssss”, “The Zamboni”, and “JUUUUUUHAAAAAA!”
- Chad’s “Ballerina Breakaway” move
- Awesome Pizza from The Pour House
- Dale “Ricky Bobby” McGinnis working his magic to get the orange juice machine on.
- Listening to the boys cheering on one of the games with shouts of “Go Wolves!” and “Pass it to ‘Blue Pants’!”