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The Showdown in Downtown - Ivy League Trip #3
October 2, 2014
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A great Ivy League education presents endless opportunities! The 2001 Toronto Marlboros, under the leadership of Head Coach Louie Gialedakis, have always seen the important connection between higher education, and a dramatic increase in ‘on-ice performance,’ which is now classified in the highest hockey circles as: ‘game-think!’  ‘Game-Think’ is the new metaphor for “hockey IQ,’ also referred to as ‘hockey smarts.’  Under Coach Louie’s direction, players are expected to excel academically, because the results in this area have shown a direct correlation between higher marks and improved ‘Game-Think!’

This trip to Stamford CT was the third in a row to feature a visit to top flight school. Ithaca New York  houses one of the most venerable Ivy League institutions, Cornell University. Coach Louie arranged for the team to be met, as soon as they arrived at Cornell, by a number of highly successful GTHL alumnae, all of whom were coached by Louie. This accomplished welcoming party included: Former GTHL players Matt Buckles, Pat McCarron and Christian Hilbrich (the latter two being former Toronto Marlboros).  Also greeting our players were player Jake Weidner and equipment manager, Sean Schmidt.

After the ‘meet & greet,’ players, parents, and coaching staff were treated to a campus tour and a tour of the great Cornell University Hockey Facility. Following this was a great presentation. Topics covered during this riveting presentation were: What is it like to play in the NCAA? What does it take to achieve an NCAA hockey scholarship? How does having the benefit of an NCAA/Cornell University hockey scholarship tie in with the dreams of playing in the NHL? How does a player keep his dreams of playing in the NHL, “alive,” while on an NCAA hockey scholarship?

The 2001 Marlboros were then joined by Head Coach Mike Schafer. Coach Schafer continued the presentation, addressing several different areas of interest and importance, including: NCAA Hockey… the quality of the players; What it is like to compete in a Division 1 NCAA loop and how Canadian Hockey Players can achieve their goal of playing in the NHL while pursuing an Ivy League education. One of the key topics of interest addressed by Coach Shafer was the ‘value of an Ivy League degree in the work place.’ The Coach went on to emphasize the weight of being able to briefly say “I have a degree from Cornell”.  He placed a very heavy emphasis on how well that will serve a player in the work force once they have completed their journey through hockey.

After a long bus ride from Etobicoke to Ithaca New York, this fantastic 3 hour experience lifted everyone’s thinking to a higher sense of possibility! To cap off this great start at Cornell, Coach Louie arranged for the team to have a pre-game meal at the same restaurant the Cornell University Men’s Hockey Team eats at before all of their games! The team even ordered from the same menu! It was quite the tasty and educational beginning to a very successful time in the US!

At the completion of the Cornell experience, everyone boarded the bus for the long ride to go to Stamford Connecticut to play in the tournament known as “The Showdown in Downtown, North American AAA Super Series!”  This highly respected tournament falls under the auspices of USA Hockey, and is only open, by invitation only, to the top 10 teams in North America, according to MyHockeyRankings. (MHR)

The Showdown in Downtown saw 8 of the Top 10 teams in North America participating, including: Toronto Marlboros, Minutemen Flames from Boston (MHR USA #1), Chicago Mission (MHR #2), Mid-Fairfield Yankees from Connecticut (MHR USA #3), Team Illinois (MHR #5), New Jersey Colonials (MHR #6), South Shore Kings from Boston (MHR USA #8), and the Boston Junior Eagles (MHR USA #9).

Follow, are the highlights of each of the tournament games:

Game 1:
 Toronto Marlboros 5  vs. Team Illinois 2. The Toronto Marlboro players knew the importance of a great start to this special tournament. They “got  it!" Right from the opening face-off, the Marlboros came to play! Their compete factor was ‘off the charts! Their ‘game think’ showed that they were gelling as a team on a mission!

Game 2: Toronto Marlboros 3 vs. South Shore Kings 0. Friday afternoon saw another good game played by the Marlboros. Throughout the game, there was good end to end action, and great team play! This was another 'total team effort' for three solid periods!

Game 3: Toronto Marlboros 1 vs. Mid Fairfield Jr. Rangers 4. Saturday morning saw the Marlboros face one of the top ranked goaltenders in the 2001 age group. He did not disappoint his teammates.

Game 4: Toronto Marlboros 4 vs. Minutemen Flames 1. The number one ranked team from the United States versus the number one ranked team from Canada. This was sure to be the game of the tournament, and an exciting game it was!  Right from the first puck drop, the Marlboros came out fast, skating hard, and digging hard in the corners. As usual, when these two teams play one another, parents, coaching staff, and players on both teams praised one another for putting on a tremendous show

Game 5:  Toronto Marlboros 7 vs. New Jersey Colonials 2. The Toronto Marlboros came out flying! Their efforts were incredible, scoring 3 goals in the both the first period and third periods and one in the second. In the third, the Marlboros took their game to another level! One nice aspect of the game was to see a variety of players stepping up, confirming the depth that this Minor Bantam team has.

The Marlboros came out the winners of this event, not only for having the best record, but also by having seen that they stack up extremely well against the best recruited teams in the USA. What a fantastic experience for the Cornell-Stamford bound Toronto Marlboros! Going to Cornell left an indelible imprint on each and every player, and made a made a highly favourable impression on our parents. This experience left their “possibility thinking,” well-stretched and open to new perspectives, never to recede to a “pre-Cornell” perspective; but forevermore to include as a possibility, the thought of earning an NCAA hockey scholarship at a great Ivy League School!

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