Winter Classic of Street Hockey

6 hours of hockey. 19 teenage boys. 1 homemade trophy.

Two days before the NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia, there was another ‘Winter Classic’ in St. John’s. Nineteen friends of ages 15-17 came together for a special street hockey tournament.

Weeks before we had all agreed we would have our own version of a Winter Classic: First to 10 goals wins a game, Goaltenders are referees, and best 3-out-of-5 wins the cup.

The Cup

Spray paint, boxes, a bowl, aluminum foil, duct tape and pop bottles;  dubbed “The Sir Arthur Meighen Memorial Cup” as it was played on Meighen street. This homemade trophy was a beauty. Two teams were to fight for it; Team Nicolle and Team Everson (I was on Team Nicolle).  Hours of work were spent clearing snow and ice off the road, drafting teams, choosing assistant captains, decking out goalie masks with names and logos, all done while watching the Juniors or whatever NHL game was on.

It felt official.

We gathered in our hockey jerseys – Red Wings (Go Wings Go), Flames, AAA Midget, Leafs, Penguins, and other favourite jerseys from our personal collections. The weather was calm and cool, holding close to -7C with the wind chill. Sun and cold; perfect conditions for an outside game.

Game 1.

10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 31st 2011.

A pre-game “skate” and warmup started the Classic off.

With the sun shining and our hearts throbbing with anticipation and excitement, we started Game 1. A well-played, energized 10-7 victory for Team Nicolle and I was capped off with the winner being a snipe top corner from from the D-man at centre. What a great feeling to get the 1st win. Each team cleared the playing surface, and went back to their “Dressing Rooms” – a house on either side of the road. We enjoyed pizza and refreshments, compliments of parents, and went back on the road for game two after 20 minutes.

Game 2.

A 7-1 lead would make any opposing team want to quit. But not us. After the seventh goal was scored, Captain Nicolle called a time out to settle us down and focus. It worked. An impressive comeback saw Team Nicolle win 10-8, putting them one game away from capturing the Sir Arthur Meighen Memorial Cup for the first time.

More pizza.

Game 3.

A long hard-fought 10-3 triumph for Team Everson in Game 3 saw our hopes of a clean sweep brushed away. But we did not give up, and made sure they would not win another game. The night sky was setting in, (as you can see in the picture), so we decided to play Game 4 straight after Game 3. Game 4 was changed to allow a 5 goal win instead of 10 due to poor lighting.

Game 4.

A back and forth game saw Team Nicolle come out on Top 5-2.

It was like winning a real championship. We threw up our hands, our gear scattering all over the road. We jumped on top of each other like the Czech team when they beat USA in the World Juniors. It was a glorious moment.

We took turns lifting the Cup, cheering and walking around. Pictures were taken with smiles all around. We shook hands with Team Everson, as friends and players. It was a fun, grueling 6 hours of street hockey; and well worth it.

Whether it’s on the street or on the ice, hockey in all forms is alive and well in Newfoundland, especially with the return of the AHL in the St. John’s. A provincial High school hockey tournament is being held this weekend in Central Newfoundland, as well. Midget AAA teams from the province are gone to Gatineau, PQ for the 47th Gatineau Kiwanis Tournament.

I just can’t wait to defend the Sir Arthur Meighen Memorial Cup title next January…

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