It was a balmy Friday morning leading in to the Thanksgiving weekend. The 2001 Marlies were getting ready to play in the Markham Islanders Fall Classic. This was to be their first in-season tournament.
The first game saw Coach Gialedakis and his Marlies take on the Central Ontario Wolves at the Thornhill Arena. The Marlies came out strong forcing the Wolves on their heels. Credit given to the Wolves for playing hard, but eventually losing to the Marlies 6-0.
The Central Ontario Wolves are a respected hockey organization established in 1992. The organization, governed out of Lindsay, covers a large geographic area from Haliburton at the northeast to Lake Simcoe to the west and Lake Ontario at Bowmanville at the southern edge of the zone. Notable NHL players developed by the Wolves include Matt Duchene, selected third overall by Colorado in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Game two had the Marlies facing the South Central Coyotes on Friday afternoon. The Marlies came up with a 3-1 win over a hard-working Coyotes team. Coach Gialedakis identified the areas in which the boys needed to work on, and encouraged them to focus on team play...stronger together.
The South Central Coyotes play in the Western Conference of the Eastern AAA Hockey League (ETA). The organization has had several players drafted into the NHL including Jason Wilson by the New York Rangers, and Brandon Burlon by the New Jersey Devils.
On Saturday morning, the Marlies took on the Markham Waxers. The Marlies found themselves needing to change gears. This team was going to be the stiffest competition for the Marlies at this tournament. The game was close throughout. The Waxers came out on top with a 4-2 win (empty net goal for Waxers in the final minute of play).
Game 4 had the Marlies take on the Hamburg Hawks from the Western New York Hockey League (WNYHL). The Marlies dominated from the start of the game. This win ensured the Marlies one of the top seeds for the semi finals.
The Sunday morning semi-final was a re-match of the Marlies and South Central Coyotes. The boys were focused and ready to play ... 4-0 win for the Marlies.
The finals had the Marlies up against the Waxers. It was going to be an exciting game played out of the Angus Glen Arena. Much like the preliminaries, the game was back and forth. In the end, the Waxers squeaked out a 3-2 win. The boys showed their sportsmanship and character by congratulating the Waxers and showing their respect.
As Coach Gialedakis told the boys post-game, “You outplayed and outshot the opponent, but fell short of the win. We are learning with every game. You need to be prepared, well-hydrated, and give it your all for yourself and your teammates”.
The best is yet to come.....