The Dorval Youngtimers hosted the 28th Annual Spring Classic at Dorval Arena from April 11 to 15. Photo courtesy.
The Dorval Youngtimers hosted the 28th Annual Spring Classic at Dorval Arena from 11-15 April, 2012. Described by many participants as the best weekend of the year, 18 teams entered into three divisions (A, B, C) for one last chance at glory in 2012. The weekend was a blast and all players had a great time. Thanks in large part to Mr. Will Nancekivell, the tournament president, and all the sponsors and volunteers, the Dorval Youngtimers raised nearly eight thousand dollars for Sun Youth. Although some of the proceeds were raised through dubious, post-game events that will hopefully be swept away by the winds of time, nobody was judged for their behaviour! After all, it was for the kids!
Saddled by years of frustration and disappointment, Team Dorval reluctantly entered the very tournament it was hosting. “I always expect epic failure from this group. I'm not sure why I keep coming back to play with these guys. I don't even like them that much” said disillusioned left-winger Neil Morton prior to the start of the 28th Annual Spring Classic Dorval Youngtimers Hockey Tournament.
History was certainly not on Team Dorval's side. For the past three years, the pattern was always the same. The Dorval team explodes out of the gates, going undefeated in the round robin, before succumbing to dehydration and eventual breakdown in the semi-finals. “We were 9 wins and 3 loses in the last three tournaments. The problem is that all three loses were in the semis.” Neil continued. The same core group of players suited up for Team Dorval this year.
On Wednesday night, Team Dorval began the tournament as it routinely does. They defeated the Rennie Knights, a team composed of washed-up high school dropouts from John Rennie and St-Thomas, 3-1. After the game, call-up centerman Andrew Wilson posted a few statements on his Twitter account. “Everyone looked sharp except for one of our defencemen”. The quote was no-doubt referring to journeyman Brad Fee, who was less than stellar on the back-end. “I don't know why Brad kept flipping the puck up the middle in his own zone. That's peewee hockey” scolded speedster James Tellier.
Thursday followed with tradition. Team Dorval beat Lipari Group 3-1. Mike Boyer, the team's dynamic goaltender, was sensational in the cease and won the-player-of-the-game award. “The guys were brutal out there in front of me. I had to win this one on my own” he chastised his team publicly after the game. In hockey, honesty is often the best medicine. Team Dorval internalized their goalie's comments and prepared for the last game of the round robin on Saturday afternoon.
With added motivation to play better, Dorval challenged their bitter rivals, Team Pointe-Claire. In a convincing 9-1 victory, Dorval locked up first place and maintained momentum going into the semi-finals, which were scheduled later that night. Ryan Rourke had a strong performance with a hat-trick. “I normally concentrate on my defence, but I was glad I could chip in offensively” he humbly explained. Rourke helped make up for a lack of skill and drive from fourth-liner Steve Barrett, who suffered a minus-1 rating with a shot-block. Barrett defended his performance by passing the buck to his gritty winger, James Tellier. “I couldn’t get much going with Tellier on my line. But we won anyways!”
Despite going 3-0 in the round-robin, there was a lot of scepticism and borderline despair permeating from the Dorval dressing room. “Our team's going to fold. I (expletive deleted) know it. Every year. We have a lack of character, no talent, no hockey-sense, no nothin” said bitter heavyweight defenseman MJ Lamarre after gulping down a fresh pop during a post-game interview.
With no confidence and a history of failure, Team Dorval got off to a rough start against Lipari Group in the semi-finals. Lipari took a predictable 3-0 lead early in the game. “Here we go again, I thought” said Bruno D'Amico. “I should have stayed home with my wife” he added.
Just as things couldn't get worse, Will Nancekivell, the tournament organizer and Dorval player-coach, demonstrated Mark Messier style leadership and stepped up with motivational comments. “I told the players to calm down, not to panic and to play our game” he said. In reality, nobody paid much attention to his words of wisdom. Moments later, however, Louis Richard scored a goal late in the first period to cut into Lipari's lead. Maybe there was some kind of correlation between Will's rambling and Louis' goal, but that's for history to decide.
Louis' spark set-off a flame under Dorval. The team outplayed Lipari in the second period and scored two goals to tie it up. MJ Lamarre, the team's biggest pessimist and underdog, threw a floater on net from the blue line that squeaked through the Lipari goalie. It was his first goal in nearly 25 years of organized hockey. Moments later, the tying goal came from Craig Cheverton, a short-handed effort that made his parents proud. “I didn’t sign up for another loss” Chevy stated.
The nail-biter went into overtime, where Mike Boyer continued to play solid in nets. He kept Dorval in the game with his outstanding chest and kick saves. Despite some uplifting play by Ryan Swift, the team's designated power-play specialist, Dorval was showing signs of fatigue.
“During overtime, I looked down the bench and saw a bunch of old dudes sucking wind. Nothing but fat, out-of-shape, gut-slapping, old, pathetic bastards. That's when I decided I needed to step up. Most of the guys were going to suffer a heart attack if they didn't get a beer and a cigarette into them soon. I needed to end it” said rookie 22-year old defenceman Ryan Smith. On the next shift, Ryan jumped into the play and scored on a breakaway. Celebration ensued in a way that only hockey players can understand.
When team Dorval stepped onto the ice Sunday afternoon, they were in unfamiliar territory. The finals! With the stands at 14 per cent capacity and the majority of players on two hours of sleep, Team Dorval and Team Pointe-Claire squared off with fist pumping enthusiasm. The game promised to be exciting, even by beer hockey standards. That assumption was marginally true. The teams skated slower than anticipated and one of the spectators, a local volunteer name Jay Smith, fell asleep in the stands while watching the first period.
Nonetheless, the first period was back and forth. Despite a late push by the Pointe-Claire squad, Will Nancekivel's early third period goal proved to be the winner in a 3-2 nail-biter. “The team clearly doesn't respond to anything I say, so it's all about on-ice production” Nancekivell finally figured out after the trophy ceremony.
After the big win, Swifty started to explain. ''Drawing up X's and O's doesn't work for a team with little hockey sense and even less talent. We rely heavily on luck and other external factors. Like… ” he drifted off in mid-sentence with a rather confused look on his face. He quickly perked up and said “Whatever happened, it was for the kids!”