A trip to Quinnipiac 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 another exciting trip south to Connecticut for the “The Showdown in Downtown” series of games for the North American AAA Super Series.
The Super Series falls under USA Hockey, and is restricted to the Top 10 AAA teams according to MyHockeyRankings.com (MHR) with express priority being given to the inclusion of the to
10 “AAA” teams.
The Showdown in Downtown, in Stamford Connecticut saw 8 of the Top 8 teams in North America participating, including: Toronto Marlboros, Minutemen Flames from Boston (MHR USA #2), Anaheim Junior Ducks (MHR #4) South Shore Kings from Boston (MHR USA #16), Boston Junior Eagles (MHR USA #9), and the Mid-Fairfield Yankees from Connecticut (MHR USA #5).
The team had a nice, relaxing bus ride to Stamford. Once there, they ate together, had a relaxing evening, and then spent the next eight hours in contemplation (deep sleep) of the fact that they would be playing some of the finest hockey teams they would face in their careers, to date.
Following are the highlights of each of tournament game:
Game 1 The Marlboros were up against the Minutemen Flames. What a start to the tournament and an exciting game it was! 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 and held the lead into the third period. The second period was scoreless as both teams exchanged scoring chances. Minutemen eventually scored, twice in the third period, and added an empty net goal for a 3-1 victory. The game could have gone either way as the pace was ferocious and very exciting. Both teams played very hard to the final buzzer! Parents, coaching staff and players on both teams praised both teams for putting on a tremendous show.
Game 2: The Marlboros played the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. It was another exciting and nail biting match up! The team had the majority of scoring chances in the throughout the game but Anaheim held a 1-0 lead after the first period and 2-1 lead after the second. Marlboros did everything but put the puck behind the opposing goalie. The Game ended in a 2-1 victory with the Ducks emerging as the victorious team.
Game 3 Saw the Marlboros facing the South Shore Kings on Saturday morning.
It was another barn burner of a match up, with lots of chances at both ends. The team began to settle into a nice groove. The first period saw plenty of chances but no goals to show for them. The second period saw both teams score one goal each. The third period saw the team establish excellent team play and execution continuing to play 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 third period, the Marlboros definitely had the majority of opportunities and eventually scored one more goal than South Shore to win 3-2. What a game!!
After the game, the Marlboros went directly to one of the most revered and venerable Ivy League Schools: “Quinnipiac University”. This was the highlight of the trip to Connecticut.
The purpose of this Quinnipiac University campus tour was designed to sublimely underline the important message that Marlboros Head Coach Gialedakis, has always made a priority: “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.”
Quinnipiac University is not only an Ivy League school, recognized for academic excellence, Quinnipiac University's ranking in the “2014 edition of Best Colleges” is: “Regional Universities (North), 11.” Quinnipiac symbolizes the achievement of the highest possible academic outcomes. This is where the Marlboros, as a team in their relentless pursuit of excellence and Quinnipiac, pair up perfectly!
Upon arrival, the team was taken on a grand tour of the Quinnipiac University hockey facilities and campus. Coach Reid Cashman greeted us. Coach Gialedakis asked Coach Cashman what we should bring and the Canadian Players on Quinnipiac asked for `Ketchup Chips!` Of course, the Marlboros obliged!
The Marlboros were then given a guided tour of the campus by two students, who are also hockey players on the team. Thomas Hilbrich, Defenseman (one of Coach Gialedakis` former players) and Matt Lemire – Forward. Both players are in their second year at the University and they spoke about the path toward getting to where they are, and the work ethic it takes to even play at such a competitive level. What a privilege it was for all in attendance to hear such important words of advice and encouragement from Thomas and Matt!
Quinnipiac presents an 18 man roster and each player has to earn a spot to play each and every game. Ice time is not automatic! Quinnipiac was rated number 1 last year. We sense the beginning of a trend! Our Marlboro team visited Yale last year and Yale ended up being champions. We hope to have brought the same luck to Quinnipiac this year!
Once the visit was complete, Coach Cashman and Coach Gialedakis arranged a pre-game meal at the exact same restaurant that the Quinnipiac Mens Hockey Team go to before their games, and even had the same food… Truly capping off a great experience!
Game 4 on Saturday evening saw a truly energized Marlboros team really ramp up against the Boston Junior Eagles. The team came out flying! Their efforts were incredible, scoring 3 goals in both the first and second periods, to secure a 6-1 victory. The Marlboros found their stride applying consistent pressure throughout the entire 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 trip to Quinnipiac certainly inspired this Marlboro team!
Game 5 Marlboros vs. Mid Fairfield Yankees.
8:20 am game time! Both teams had the same early wake up call, however, the Mid Fairfield team started with a little more jump and lead after the first period 1-0. The game was far from over. Coach Gialedakis made it clear that the second period had to be different and it was. The team responded! The Marlboros were all over the Mid Fairfield team outshooting them 22-1. Their goalie combined with some help from the goalposts was what kept them in the game. The game temporarily seemed to stall at a 1-1 tie. It was nice to see that throughout the game, the Marlboros continued to turn up the heat and demonstrated a very fast, fluid, tenacious brand of hockey excellence!
However, against a country with 340 million people, you would not expect anything less than "an all-out gut-wrenching effort to win" as the Mid Fairfield team made it 2-1 with less than 3 minutes to go in the game. The Marlboros never gave up and fought to the end. An insurance goal by Mid Fairfield brought about an end result that surprised everyone in the arena.
In retrospect, the Marlboros came out winners, having discovered that they stack up extremely well against the best recruited teams in the USA. What a fantastic experience for the Quinnipiac-bound Toronto Marlboros! Going to “Quinnipiac” left an indelibly fine imprint on each and every player – not to mention the parents. This experience left their “possibility thinking,” well-stretched and open to new perspectives, never to recede to a “pre-Quinnipiac” perspective; but more so, to include as an academically earned possibility: going to school on a hockey scholarship at a great Ivy League School!