Mike Fisher loves hockey, a game he grew up with in Cleveland, Ohio where his father was a sports writer covering the Barons of the American Hockey League. Mike plays and follows teams with interest but his further passion is helping preserve the game. Mike is a volunteer and patron of the Hockey Hall of Fame and spends a week every year working at the HHOF archive facility in west Toronto.
Last February Mike contacted me out of the blue.
“I’m told that you are the guy to talk to about Over 40 hockey players,” he said. From there he unraveled a vision he shared with a contact he had in Newmarket, Ontario (approximately 40 miles north of Toronto) to have players, aged 60 and over, travel from Denver to Toronto/Newmarket to play not a tournament but in “an exhibition of hockey”.
“I’m not eligible I told him, I’m only 59.”
“Not a problem, we’ve seen you play,” he assured me.
I didn’t commit to the trip at that point but I think Mike knew that it would be increasingly difficult for a Toronto native not to find an excuse to play. The timely birth of my first grandson in Toronto sealed the deal, I was in.
Mike set about making his vision a reality. Armed with information on air fares, car rentals, and hotel costs he persuaded six players to make the trip. Along with Mike were Bill Husson, Dave Lyons, Rick Milauskas, Todd Schuman, Greg Stultz and myself.
Collaborating in Ontario with Larry Smart and Lloyd Chambers, Mike arranged a four game schedule. Two 3 on 3 games at the specially designed ice surface at Newmarket Arena and two regular games in nearby Aurora and Sharon, Ontario. We borrowed a goalie and additional players from local leagues as needed. The Colorado Mavericks, as Mike named the team, were set to play.
Mike’s Hockey Hall of Fame connections, Phil Pritchard and Miragh Bitove, arranged for the Mavericks to tour the HHOF archive facility in west Toronto.For any hockey enthusiast this is a treasure, a place where memories of the game are preserved.The actual HHOF museum is downtown in Toronto and is the showplace (we all got free passes) but anything not on display there is in the archives.
As luck would have it, the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility is in the same complex and we were able to catch some of their morning practice the day before the Leafs home opener against the Senators.
And finally my son Scott graciously agreed to conduct a walking tour of Toronto for us. There was really far more to see than we could walk to in 60-90 minutes however stops were made at the Eaton Centre, Nathan Philips Square at Toronto City Hall, and outside the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The Mavericks travelled downtown on Saturday night for the walking tour, a team dinner later on at Gretzky’s restaurant , and a short after dinner walk to see part of the Leafs vs. Sens game on the big screen outside the Air Canada Centre.
Befitting “An Exhibition of Hockey” there was no official score kept of any of our games. However, had it been, the Mavericks record would have been one win, three losses. More importantly the games were fun, our Canadian hosts made us feel welcome, and the play while competitive was clean.
The 3 on 3 format games were my favorite. Each team had six or seven skaters on the bench. A buzzer sounds every 90 seconds signaling a shift change and the players on the ice must leave the puck while the next shift jumps off the bench to be the first to retrieve it and advance the play. Even with the reduced size of the neutral zone there is plenty of room to skate and make plays. The games were frenetic, fast, and exhausting.
Thanks goes out to all who helped make the Mavericks trip a success. And particular thanks to Mike Fisher, who realized his vision. It was indeed “An Exhibition of Hockey”.
Gretchen Winters took photos of our trip.
Clockwork Orange wins Social league summer championship!
Sweeps double elimination tournament with 4-0 record.
Clockwork Orange proved their mettle in an exciting final game against Last Gasp after defeating both the Over 40’s 2-0, the Old Dawgs 7-5, and the Over 40’s in previous games.
Last Gasp, despite losing the tournament opener to the Pickleheads 3-2, came back to defeat Faction Media 5-1, and then gained a measure of revenge by eliminating the Pickleheads 2-1 to advance to the final against Clockwork Orange.
The Championship game proved to be as close as the Social league Summer season had been with six teams finishing within 5 points in the team standings.
Largely a defensive contest both Clockwork Orange and Last Gasp seemed content to wait for a break rather than open things up. The first period ended scoreless with Clockwork goalie Steve Kyelberg looking for means to stay warm after just two shots on goal. Last Gasp’s goalie, Brian Long, fared little better with only seven shots on net.
Early in the second Last Gasp drew first blood with Dino Hacker scoring at 1:02 from Paul Froelich. This opened things up with Matt Cannon replying for Clockwork Orange at 5:39. The rest of the period was scoreless but the intensity level began to rise as there was a sense that the next goal may be all it would take for victory.
Clockwork Orange took the lead 2-1 on a nice goal by Jay Rohrer from Jim Miles and Marie Kelly at 5:03. Not to be denied Last Gasp elevated their game and tied the score less than three minutes later with Paul Froelich scoring from Bob McNamara and Dino Hacker.
Both teams pressed to gain the advantage however the remainder of the period was scoreless forcing a five minute overtime period. Just 1:20 into the overtime Jay Rohrer found himself in from of the Last Gasp and scored the winner unassisted.
Congratulations to Clockwork Orange captain Garrett Ladd and his team: Stephen Attard, Matt Cannon, Bob Desmond, Mike Ernstsen, Cliff Hall, Marie Kelly, Bill Kirschner, Steve Kyelberg, Fred Larochelle, Joe Mahoney, Jim Miles, Keith Molenhouse, Rich Parker, Jeff Pershin, Jay Rohrer, and Mark Swierczewski.
Gretchen Winters was able to capture some of the action.
Team Brew NQ wins Select Summer League Championship
“First they beat you, then they feed you after the game.”
Team Brew NQ capped a fine summer season where they captured both first place in the regular season standings and went undefeated in the double elimination playoff tournament.
In the fourteen games played by Captain Bob Fairfield’s squad they lost only once in regulation time to Chien Bizarre, the same team they defeated 6-1 in the championship game.
After a close first period which saw Team Brew NQ take the lead on a goal by Greg Scala, a couple of untimely penalties to Chien Bizarre lead to two Team Brew NQ goals by Mike Shanley and Rand Peterson in the second period.
Shanley completed the hat trick in the third period scoring twice before Chien Bizarre’s Todd (Boom Boom) Harvey finally got a shot past Team Brew NQ netminder, Graham Barber. Jason Manning finished off the scoring for Team Brew NQ late in the third.
SDOHL Commissioner, John Ling, presented Team Brew NQ players with the traditional Summer Championship T shirts. The league congratulates team members Graham Barber, Scott Douglas, Bob Fairfield, Erik Hoeger, Ray Kokinos, Jason Manning, James Mansfield, Rand Peterson, Mark Richards, Greg Scala, Mike Shanley, Shane Wakeland, and Ben Ziff.
The Fall/Winter 2012-13 season came to a successful conclusion with 80 league members attending the third annual awards banquet.
In opening remarks Master of Ceremonies, Keith Horstman, welcomed league members from both the Social and Select Over 40 Leagues along with their guests and supporters. Keith restated the banquet’s purpose as a time to “inspire our friendships on and beyond the team’s benches” and to “put any on-ice grudges behind us and keep the game fun.”
This year’s banquet was headlined again by Wayne Faust, a league member, who also happens to be an accomplished singer, songwriter, and author. Wayne has entertained audiences in the U.S. and around the world for over thirty years with his unique blend of music and humor. Wayne announced he was recording this year’s session for a CD he will be releasing later this year.
Wayne performed many of his favorite songs capping the night off with some help from league members singing “Bald Guys”.
Adding to the entertainment was a guest poet and vocalist, Dave Maney, who wrote both a poem about his goaltending and sang new hockey lyrics to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues.
Before commencing the awards presentation Keith Horstman introduced League Commissioner, John Ling. John observed that the SDOHL had experienced substantial growth to close to 200 league members, 13 teams, with hockey activity five nights per week. He thanked a number of people for their help and assistance over the past year.
Mark Earnest and the ice arena staff at Foothills Ice Arena.
Megan, and Kari Cronin, Scorekeepers
Mike O’Connor, Scheduler with the Colorado Ice Hockey Referees Association
Dana Levesque, Web Site Consultant
Gretchen Winters, Photographer
Jon Guelzow, Biggie Wine & Liquors in Conifer
John also thanked each of the team captains for giving their time to provide leadership to their teams and support him in his role as Commissioner.
Paul Truex and Jay Herman, Biggie Wine & Liquors
Bob Fairfield, Blazing Dadds
Bernie Lafleur, Touchstone Imaging
Jim Maroney Jr., Select Over 40’s
Bern Levesque, Chien Bizarre
Steve Terlecki, Last Gasp
Wayne Faust, Pickleheads
Steve Riegel, Patrick Dolan, Faction Media
Jim St. Marie, Coyotes
Paul Schuette, Bill Pardee, Social Over 40’s
Marty Richardson, Mike Pijanowski, Old Dawgs
Tracy Vermeyen, Tom Mathews, B&K Supply
Rob Savage, Dan Grady, Clockwork Orange
Keith Horstman invited the team captains to come forward and present the Highly Valuable Player Awards. Each team captain selects a player from their team to receive the award. The HVP recognizes achievement, attitude, team play, and player development.
The next awards were for Top Goaltender, presented to the goalie with the best goals against average playing a minimum of ten games.
The Select League recipient was Mike Robuck who played 12 games for Touchstone Imaging, won 7, lost 5, goals against average of 2.42 per game, a 91.8 save percentage, along with two shutouts. The award was presented by Dave Maney, last year’s recipient.
The Social League recipient was Tim Kmetz who played 19 games for Faction Media, won 9, lost 10, goals against average of 2.74, a 90.9 save percentage, and one shutout. The award was presented by Al Sterner, last year's recipient.
The Select League recipient for Top Goal Scorer and Overall Point Scoring was Steve Cobb of the Over 40’s. Steve played 15 games scoring a league record 34 times and adding 14 assists for an overall scoring total of 48 points.
The Social League recipient for Top Goal Scorer was Mike Pijanowski of the Old Dawgs. Mike played 15 games scoring 27 times surpassing his league record of 26 in 2010-11. Mike added 12 assists to place third in overall scoring with 39 points.
The Social League recipient for Top Playmaker and Overall Point Scoring was Marty Richardson of the Old Dawgs. Marty recorded a league record 26 assists along with 19 goals for a league record of 45 points surpassing his record point total of 43 in the 2011-12 season.
Keith Horstman announced the final awards of the evening. The Select Over 40 League Championship Bowl which is awarded annually to the playoff winner of the fall/winter season and the SDOHL Championship Cup which is awarded annually to the Social Over 40 League playoff winner.
League Commissioner, John Ling, presented the first ever Select Over 40 League Championship Bowl to Bern Levesque, captain of Chien Bizarre, who won the league championship game 8-2 over the Over 40’s. Bern congratulated his team members; Greg Clinard, Chris Courtiol, Michael Crawford, Dave Decker, David Kinsey, Matt Lanza, John Ling, Jeff Meyer, Rich Miller, Scott Nelson, Jonathan Ripley, Rodney Saunders, Michal Slouka, Eric Wilks, and Miguel Zlot.
While praising his team’s accomplishments Bern noted that Chien Bizarre had played several close games over the season with ten of their games decided by one goal.
John Ling then presented the SDOHL Championship Cup to Rob Savage, captain of the Social Over 40 League champions, Clockwork Orange, who defeated Last Gasp 2-1 in the final playoff game.
Rob congratulated his team members; Eddie Agurkis, Stephen Attard, Steve Bergmann, Matt Cannon, Mike Ernstsen, Dan Grady, Bill Kirschner, Steve Kyelberg, Garrett Ladd, Fred Larouchelle, Joe Mahoney, Bill O’Grady, Jeff Pershin, Dave Pike, and Jay Rohrer.
Rob recounted the team’s emotions during a very tense final few minutes before defeating Last Gasp, a team that would not go away. Several of the players spoke very eloquently of the enjoyment they had had with their team mates over the season.
The SDOHL Social league championship game was a classic playoff contest. Clockwork Orange had rebounded from an opening round overtime loss to the Pickleheads and came in riding a three game playoff winning streak.
Last Gasp, after finishing fourth in their division, put together a remarkable playoff run capped by a semi-final victory over the Old Dawgs. Would this be the end of their Cinderella run or could another upset be in the making?
The first period set the tone for the game. Both teams took care of defense first allowing few opportunities to score. Clockwork Orange carried the play but Last Gasp defended well slowing the game down and clearing their zone not allowing sustained pressure on their goal.
Clockwork Orange’s Matt Cannon scored early in the second cashing in on a rebound off a point shot that found its way through traffic in front of Last Gasp goalie Paul Grosse.
Last Gasp replied almost immediately. Jay Scolnick carried the puck into Clockwork Orange’s zone then dropped a pass back to defenseman John Corboy who had joined the rush Corboy’s wrist shot beat goalie Steve Kyelberg to tie the score 1-1.
Clockwork Orange’s winner came from Taylor Erickson early in the third period. Last Gasp mounted considerable pressure over the last ten minutes of the game including pulling their goaltender for a sixth attacker with just over minute left however Kyelberg and company shut the door.
Final score was 2-1 in favor of Clockwork Orange.
SDOHL Commissioner, John Ling, presented the SDOHL Championship Cup to Clockwork Orange captain Rob Savage. The league congratulates team members Eddie Agurkis, Stephen Attard, Steve Bergmann, Matt Cannon, Taylor Erickson, Mike Ernstsen, Bil