Could the presentation of the Green Jacket at The Masters be the most humiliating duty in sports? I bet if you lined up all the Masters winners, most of them would say “Yes“. On Sunday, that’s how Jordan Spieth looked as he gave up what he believed should have been his jacket to Englishman Danny Willett. As for Danny Willett, I’m sure that every time he remembers this win, he will look back at it and smile. Ear to ear.
Just like the Blues de Jonquière.
My son Nic’s Bantam A team won the local championship, or, rather, the first part of a two-part quest. Because of how our region is divided geographically, the minor hockey association split the playoffs into two sub-competitions, one between the Saguenay teams, the second for the teams located around Lac-St-Jean. The winner of those two separate competitions would meet on neutral ground for a final showdown. Two games played on one day, with 10 minutes of overtime after the 2nd game if an outright winner hadn’t been decided by the end of the second game; followed by shoot outs, if needed.
One of the reasons our team made it to the finals is because we didn’t lose our Fair Play points in any of the games we’d played in the first round. This, for many teams, is quite normal, but when you have a bunch of rival towns playing against each other, sometimes penalties get out of hand. It did for one of the teams we played against, and beat – in overtime. If they hadn’t lost their cool on the 12th hole, whoops I mean, in the 3rd period, they might have been the team representing Saguenay in the tournament of Champions.
But they lost their cool. And once the game was over, a couple of their kids tried even things out with our kids on their way to the dressing room. Their coaches quickly intervened, but that team was angry — not just because we won the game, but because we derailed their chances of winning.
Fast forward to the Tournament of Champions. Our team faced the Lac-St-Jean champions in the morning, and won. It was a clean game.
It wasn’t so clean in the afternoon.
It was chippy with a rotation of players going to both boxes. One of our forwards, who’d barely had a penalty all season long, drew two all by himself. With 2:45 left in the 3rd period, we were behind 4-3 and Coach Guy thought we probably wouldn’t win that game. But he also knew that if we got just one more penalty, we would lose our Fair Play points, not even giving us an opportunity of that 10-minute overtime period.
He called a time out. Guy told them if we got another penalty, we would lose the tournament. He told them to play clean, that discipline was the word of the day.
At 1:56, Guy pulled our goalie. We kept the puck in their end for the rest of the period, with several shots on goal but none of them getting through. Despite not scoring, the strategy worked. We may have lost the game, but we were about to win the war. Momentum was on our side, momentum that would make the difference in the overtime period about to start.
Turns out, the forward who had been sent to the box for two long minutes twice in the three periods before, crashed the net and threw the puck at their goal once, twice, and the third time, it went in with 2:52 off the clock. The crowd (on our side of the rink, at least) erupted with joy.
Both teams got medals. Our team got the championship banner and skated once around the rink in a victory lap. It was a win that no one had expected, rather like Danny Willett winning the Masters. But that win is one our kids – and those of us who were there watching them – will look back on as we grow older, and every time we think of it, it will make us smile.
Just like Danny Willett.