by Shane Bowers
Need a hockey boost to make it through the long summer months? This article was originally featured in the October, 2015 Hawk Tawk Mag-E-Zine, the exclusive online newsletter for Waterloo Black Hawks season ticket holders.
In my second bantam year, we were playing at Atlantics…the Atlantic Irving Oil Cup Challenge Tournament. It’s a combination of four provinces, so to you guys it would probably be like four states.
We were called the Bubba Rays Gulls, but since we won our league to get into this tournament, we represented my home province, Nova Scotia. We had Nova Scotia jerseys on, and the socks, and the whole getup, so each team represented the province they came from.
It was April, in a province called Newfoundland, way east, like right in the middle of the ocean between Canada and Europe. If I remember, it was probably mid-April and there was still about three feet of snow on the ground there.
I remember a little bit of adversity. When I got there, my gear didn’t come on the plane. Everyone else on the team’s gear came, except mine, so I had a little panic attack before the whole tournament started.
I was freaking out. We were waiting in the airport, and all my buddies and my coaches and teammates were there, and I remember we had all our gear stacked up on a couple carts. We’re waiting and one of my coaches, he’s like “Did your gear go yet?” and I said “No. Still waiting, still waiting.”
So, it never came that night, and I remember just sitting at the hotel thinking “We’re out here in the middle of the ocean on an island. If my gear doesn’t come this is a long trip; we’re going to have to go buy some equipment and then try to work it in.”
Luckily, one of my mom’s friends works in the airport, so she was trying to track it down. They just hadn’t put it on the plane. The flight exceeded the weight limit, and they just took one bag, and it happened to be mine. I can’t believe they didn’t realize all the other hockey bags were going somewhere and they just decided to take one off.
I woke up the next morning and checked my phone, and my dad said that the gear came early that morning. We were playing during the early afternoon, so it came just that morning in time for the first game.
During the tournament we played each team, so four games, round-robin. Then the top two teams went into the championship. We went undefeated, but we had a couple tough games. I remember our first game, we were down 3-0 in the first period. We were able to come back, but we were just kind of sleeping that game.
Throughout the whole process of getting to that tournament we were always saying we wanted to always score the first goal and get the momentum early.
The final game stood out for a couple of things. Obviously it was the biggest tournament around and it was a big game. If we won it, we were pretty much the best team in eastern Canada.
I remember we didn’t score the first goal, so it was kind of an “uh-oh,” but I think our team, like, we were pretty close. We all gelled together.
One play from that game I will always remember: the other team took a slap shot from center and hit the post. They were already up 2-0 at the time. Their player dumped that puck in and it hit the post, it went off our goalie, Kirklin Allen’s back, and it trickled out the other side.
I don’t know if he just over-read it. He was the top goalie of the tournament, so it wasn’t as if he just didn’t see it, but it went over his shoulder, right off the post on a slap shot, and it was just like, “Okay, we’re still alive,” because I think in a big game like that, if a goal was to sneak in, I think that would have been pretty heart-breaking
I remember that was just a huge, huge turning point. I think that probably would have crushed us if that went in. It’s crazy how that turned everything around, and we kind of knew, “Hey, it’s time to get going now.”
When we were behind 2-1 – we were sitting in the dressing room between the second and third – there was no doubt that we knew we could win that game, and that we were in control of the game the whole time. It was pretty cool, the character in the room that we had. We weren’t really down in the second and third, because we knew “Hey, we beat this team already. We CAN beat them. We’re better than them.” And that’s the attitude our coaches came in with, so I think when we came out in the third and the clock started to wind down, everyone started to get a little antsy, but we were able to just to keep together, and we stayed positive to be able to get through that.
I scored to tie it on a scramble in front. The puck came up to the point to our defenseman, and he shot it, then I kind of looped back and went skating towards the net and was looking over my shoulder as he took the shot. It came off the goalie’s pad, and it kind of handcuffed me on my backhand. I didn’t really shoot it that well, it just came off his pad, off my stick, and right back in the net, so it was kind of lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. I didn’t get a lot on it, but it just snuck in there.
A couple shifts later, I got hauled down, so the game was tied 2-2 and I had a penalty shot.
Coming in, I tried to deke to my backhand…I tried to fake with my forehand and go to my backhand. I just didn’t get the puck up enough and it rolled off my stick and went just past the side of the net. I was a little down on myself, but I knew I had to get back up because we still had lots of time left in the game and it was tied still.
But then just a couple shifts after that, we scored. I remember it exactly. Nick Fewer, our teammate, he came down the wing and he made a crazy cross-ice pass on his back hand to Connor Kirby who was driving the net, and I remember the celebration, like the hands went up and everyone was jumping. And I remember seeing like all the parents, the dads were jumping too.
They had a power play late when we were up 3-2 and we killed that off. I remember being on the ice for that last minute and seeing the clock count down. With four seconds left while they had the goalie pulled, their best player was on the point. His name was Ethan Crossman, and he took a shot, and Bradley Shaw blocked it. He kind of slid, and he over slid the puck. Crossman got it again and Shaw spun around while he was laying down, and he just got a stick on it and it rolled out of the zone. I remember looking up, and you see :01, and then all the gloves came off, thrown up into the air.
Afterwards we were up all night. There was snow everywhere, so we were outside running around. We left on Monday. I remember flying home with the trophy. It’s a big trophy called the Irving Atlantic Challenge Cup, probably like three or four feet tall, and we had it on the plane. We got off the plane, and family members that hadn’t come were there when we got off, so it was pretty cool.
It was definitely the biggest thing I have won so far yet. With that team, we played together pretty much for two years, and to be able to win that tournament…it was a pretty big tournament. It was a pretty special game that I’ll never forget.
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