By: Vince Clark
The 22nd annual Rob Thomas Memorial Hockey Tournament took place on the weekend of March 16th,17th & 18th. The men’s side consisted of seven teams, The Pine Falls Ol’Kings, The St-Georges Voyageurs, The Powerview Old Timers(Their real team name had to be omitted due to explicit content), The Beaches Binmuckers, The Pineview Lumberjacks, The Bannock Boys, and the Seaward. The games were split between Pine Falls’ Sunova Arena, and the Sagkeeng Arena Multiplex, to allow the women’s side the ice time required to play their games.
The Binmuckers were the heavy favourites, having not lost a single game this year on their way to three tournament championships. However, the tournament was pretty evenly matched overall.
The tournament started off with a bang, as the Lumberjacks battled the Ol’Kings in a feisty game. Each team had a player ejected, there were multiple 10 minute misconducts, and even a disallowed goal enroute to a 6-5 shootout victory for the Ol’Kings.
The action continued to be fierce throughout the weekend, and, when the dust settled, it all came down to the Binmuckers vs the Seaward for the championship.
The Binmuckers walked through the round robin undefeated, only needing three games to make the final. The Seaward on the other hand, had an incredibly difficult draw. After losing their first game to the Binmuckers 5-4 on a buzzer-beating goal with seconds left on the clock, they faced a daunting task. The team, which is an amalgamation of the Lac du Bonnet Ol’Blues and the Pinawa Rats, needed to win three consecutive games, back to back to back, with no rest in between. Somehow, someway, they succeeded, and earned a rematch with the Binmuckers, following one more victory Sunday morning.
The championship game was a spectacle to behold. The entire game was filled with tense, edge-of-your-seat action. Both teams scored early on, and the game was tied, 1-1. Then the goalies seemed to have decided enough was enough. They made spectacular save after spectacular save, with the crowd completely enthralled the entire way. Then, it happened. With approximately 12 minutes left in the second and final period, the Binmuckers broke the tie. Just when we thought the game couldn’t get any more entertaining, the Binmuckers suddenly couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. Their penalty kill was stellar however, and, backed by goaltender Nolan Scrivens, killed three consecutive 5-on-3 powerplays. With around three minutes remaining, the seaward pulled their goalie, and began really peppering Scrivens and the Binmuckers. The Seaward hit the crossbar twice in the dying seconds, and Scrivens stood tall, allowing the Binmuckers to complete their storybook undefeated season with a 2-1 victory.
The women’s side consisted of 4 teams, The Drunk Pucks, the Lazers, the Saints, and Barky’s Younguns. The women’s side followed a different format. Whereas the men’s was an elaborately crafted tournament bracket, the women’s was a simple round robin. This means every team plays eachother once, and their win/loss records determine playoff seeding. Following round robin play, the Lazers were a perfect 3-0, The Drunk Pucks were 2-1, The Saints were 1-2, and the Younguns were 0-3.
The Lazers predictably walked through the playoffs, and were met by the Drunk Pucks in the final. The game began closely matched, but the Lazers pulled away in the second period, and won 7-3.
A big thank you goes out to all the staff at both arenas, as well as all the hardworking volunteers who helped make the tournament a complete success.