A trip to Yale University and a great tournament made for a great combination of academic possibility and outstanding competition!
The last week of September saw the 2001 Marlboros make the exciting trip south to Connecticut for the “Home Town Showdown” Tournament for the North American AAA Super Series.
The Super Series falls under USA Hockey, and is restricted to the Top 25 AAA teams according to MyHockeyRankings.com (MHR) with express priority being given to the inclusion of the top 20 “AAA” teams.
The Home Town Showdown in Stamford, Connecticut saw 5 of the Top 6 teams in North America participating, including: Toronto Marlboros, Minutemen Flames from Boston (MHR USA #1), South Shore Kings from Boston (MHR USA #2), Chicago Mission (MHR USA #3), Mid-Fairfield Yankees from Connecticut (MHR USA #5), and the Anaheim Jr. Ducks (MHR USA #6).
This excited, but disciplined, group of 2001 Toronto Marlboros endured an 11 hour bus ride to arrive in Stamford, Connecticut the evening prior to the start of the tournament. After having a late dinner and settling into the hotel, the boys knew that a good night’s sleep would be needed to re-energize and get ready for what would be the strongest tournament field they had ever faced.
The highlights of each of tournament game were captured in a team blog. Below is the game-by-game review from the tournament.
Game 1 had the Marlboros up against the Anaheim Ducks. What an exciting match up! Right from the first puck drop, both teams came out fast, skating hard, digging in the corners, and were surprisingly well matched. The Marlboros scored first while short-handed. The Ducks scored a few minutes later during a power play. The second period was a tough battle throughout with the Ducks moving ahead by one goal! The 3rd period saw the Marlboros generate tremendous momentum and they absolutely dominated the play. The Marlboros tied up the game with just a few minutes left and controlled every facet of the game, right to the final buzzer, with numerous shots on goal. The game ended with a 2-2 tie.
Game 2 saw the Marlboros take on the Connecticut Yankees. It was another exciting march up!
Although the Marlboros had the majority of scoring chances in the first period, after 15 minutes the score was nil-nil. The second period started with the Yankees scoring 2 early goals. The Marlboros answered back with 2 goals of their own. This was “AAA” hockey at it’s finest! Fan support was strong for the Yankee home team and those who accompanied the Marlboros, a small but mighty group, shone through with their great vocal support! The third period started with the opposing team scoring early. The Marlboros responded admirably, stayed tough, shifted into high gear, and scored twice with 6 minutes to go. The Yankees pulled their goalie with a minute left. The Game ended 4-3, with the Marlboros emerging as the victorious team!
Game 3 saw the Marlboros facing Chicago Mission on Saturday morning. The Canadian players played this team to a tie at the Marlboros tournament earlier this month.
It was a seesaw match up, with lots of chances on both ends. Mission scored in the first period. The second period saw the Marlboros establish excellent team play and execution and they then settled back into their systems, creating a truly great exhibition of just how great and exciting the game of hockey can be, when a well-oiled team, like a fine-tuned engine, fires on all cylinders! During the 3rd period, the Marlboros definitely had the majority of opportunities. With 5 minutes left, one of the Marlboro forwards were taken down and Chicago was penalized. The Marlboros scored on the power play, tying up the game. Although the Marlboros upped the ante in the final few minutes, with plenty of forward zone pressure and several shots at goal, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
After the game, the Marlboros went directly to one of the most revered and venerable Ivy League schools: “Yale University”
The purpose of this Yale University campus tour was designed to sublimely underline the important message that Marlboros Head Coach, Gialedakis, has always espoused: “Education First!”
“Pressure to perform on the ice is a well-known and generally accepted fact, throughout the Marlboros organization. Since 1931, it has always been this way. What may not be so obvious is the “pressure to perform academically.” Gialedakis is of the deeply held belief that: “a hockey player that does exceptionally well at school, will consistently outperform expectations on the ice!
Yale University is not only an Ivy League school, recognized for its academic excellence, the name itself, “Yale,” has become a stand alone metaphor, symbolizing the achievement of the highest possible outcomes. This is where the Marlboros, as a team and as a metaphor for hockey excellence, pair up perfectly!
Upon arrival, the team was taken on a grand tour of the Yale University hockey facilities and campus. Colin Dueck, a fourth year Yale Student and Defenseman on the Yale Hockey team, masterfully led the tour. What a privilege it was for all in attendance to hear Colin’s words of advice and encouragement!
Game 4 on Saturday evening saw the Marlboros up against an energized, hungry team, in the South Shore Kings, from the Boston area. They came out flying from the onset, scoring 2 quick goals early in the game. The Marlboros eventually found their stride applying consistent pressure, hitting the post twice and playing quite even with the team from Boston, for the rest of the game. One nice aspect of the game was to see a variety of players stepping up, confirming the depth that this young team has. The game ended 3-0 in favour of the South Shore Kings, however, the score was not representative of the great overall effort put forth by the Marlboros!
Game 5 – Marlboros vs. Minutemen
7:00am game time! What happens when you play what is considered the number one 11-year-old team in the US, in a critical game? You get a fabulous test and demonstration of just how exciting this sport is!
Both teams had the same early wake up call, however, the Minuteman started with more jump. Result, 2-0 lead for USA after the first period. Coach Gialedakis made it clear that the second period had to be different. The team responded! 2-2! The Marlboros turned it up and turned on and demonstrated our brand of fast, fluid and tenacious hockey!
With the momentum on our side, we went into the third and quickly made it 3-2.
Against a country with 340 million people, you would not expect anything less than "an all-out gut-wrenching effort to win" as the Minutemen fought back and made it 3-3.
Like so many previous big games, our team was able to notch one more goal when needed, and scored to make it 4-3 Marlboros, with only 3 minutes to play.
With only 48 seconds remaining, and what for the Minutemen had to be a tournament highlight, they scored, to steal a tie! 4-4 final.
Game 6 - The final game for the Marlboros had them facing the South Shore Kings for 3rd place in the tournament. The Marlboros were on fire right from the get go. They were skating hard, passing sharp, and our goalie was like an impenetrable wall.
In the first period the Marlboros scored 2 goals. They also scored an additional 2 goals in the third (just mere seconds apart). With great fore-checking and a solid defensive performance, the Marlboros sealed the deal with a well-deserved 4-0 win, and a respectable 3rd place finish in the tournament!
What a fantastic experience for the Yale-bound Toronto Marlboros! Going to “Yale” left an indelibly fine imprint on each player. This experience left their “possibility thinking,” well-stretched and open to new perspectives, never to recede to a “pre-Yale” perspective; but more so, to include as an academically earned possibility: going to school on a hockey scholarship at a great Ivy League School!