In case you live in a cave (or another country), you probably already knew that last weekend was the 1st anniversary of the 2010 Winter Olympics, that awesome party we hosted last year. To celebrate and relive the fever of those awesome two weeks, Vancouver residents reconvened on Granville street for festivities and, appropriately, hockey. PITB was there, as our pal Richard Loat, founder of Five Hole For Food, invited us out to take part in a Canucks' bloggers mini-tournament with fellow blogs Head to the Net, Canucks Corner, and Canucks Hockey Blog.
Needless to say, we wrecked house. Our team (comprised of Cinnamon Toast Funk bassist Jason Vander-Hoek, my boss Jared Ginter, and Skeeter in goal), was, in scientific terms, hecka boss. And speaking of bosses, it turns out mine rocks at road hockey. Also, Daniel was a freaking wall. Even I had an honour roll moment, thoroughly undressing CHB's JJ Guerrero before going forehand-backhand on their stunned netminder.
As Bruce Ng said, it was as if the rink was tilted (also: it was). Additional observation: Richard Loat is big, but he doesn't play big. Quit being such a perimeter player, Loat.
But enough about us. Last weekend's real road hockey newsmakers are the Vancouver Wellwoods, PITB's adopted women's street hockey team. If you'll recall, the Wellwoods were headed down to Victoria to vie for the Redwood Cup in the national road hockey championships. After the jump, the ladies in baby blue tell you all about the tournament in their own words:
Well, we’re back. And no, we didn’t bring home the National title, the thousands of dollars, or the obscenely large trophy. I figure Welly wouldn’t have wanted it that way--it would have been far too cliche and predictable. What we did do was have a fantastic weekend playing our collective guts out on the streets of Victoria, against quality female teams from all across the country.
True to our motto, we didn’t train or practice at all for this 5-games-in-2-days marathon. We’re all busy girls with full time jobs - Julia “Bergy” Staszewski is an up and coming lawyer, Laura “Kos” Kosakoski is in her first year of medical school, and Kelly “Sunshine” James spent the past two months in Patagonia with the penguins! So really, we wouldn’t have had time to train, even if we wanted to.
DAY 1: ROUND ROBIN
Let me make one thing clear about street hockey: it’s not ice hockey. And our failure to realize that probably what cost us our first game of the tournament. As ice hockey players (we’re all UBC Thunderbird alumni) we kept trying to make too many cute, off-the-curb breakout passes instead of just airing the ball out of our zone. I found myself making sliding motions that, instead of propelling me across the crease, simply removed the skin from my knees. On the ice you can coast a bit, but on dry land you constantly catch yourself standing still. The team we were playing, the Victoria Extreme, are an actual ball hockey team, so they already knew all of this. They won the opener handily, 4-2.
After game one, we a) ate a bag of bagels, and b) put our heads together to come up with a better game plan.
Editor's note: eating and thinking--how Wellwood of you.
The team we were playing next, Regina, was the team that knocked us out of the tournament in 2009. We decided that we had to open up our game to generate more chances off the rush, which meant we’d also be backchecking like we’d never backchecked before. It payed off, and the girls found their scoring touch in the second half. We took Game 2 by a score of 6-1.
It was a beautiful day at this point, and Wellwoodian spirits were high. The sun was out, lots of fans had gathered to watch the afternoon games, and “Dog Days are Over” was pumping out of speakers lining the harbour (which, by this point, was festively sprinkled with dozens of colourful, floating hockey balls!). It was a great day for hockey, and we had one round-robin game to go.
Game 3 against the Calgary Mudpuppies was a tough one to take because we played our best game of the tournament and still came up short. The girls worked hard in the corners, and blocked a TON of shots, including a nasty one that Kali-Ann Cameron took up high off the chest. Cammy is definitely the Ryan Johnson of the Wellwoods, in that she loves to block shots in the most horror-inducing way possible. I remember one time a guy shot her so hard in the stomach that the first words out of his mouth were “Oh God, you weren’t pregnant were you!?!”
Editor's note: that guy needs to practice speaking to women. Also, he seems to have a lot of faith in the strength of his shot, considering he asks this question in past tense.
She’s a tough cookie. Anyway, that Calgary game was probably the most evenly matched female street hockey game ever played, a nailbiter right to the end, and was decided on the final shot of the shootout. Ping! Post and in. I hate that sound.
Our 1-1-1 record was just enough to get us 3rd place, and a bye into the semi-finals on Saturday. We were exhausted on Friday night... in our postgame hot tub sesh we sat there and marinated in stunned silence with thousand-yard-stares on our faces. We went out for burgers, sampled some local microbrews, then we all passed out watching Criminal Minds in our hotel room at 7:30 p.m. We are WILD.
Editor's note: I've long suspected that Wellwood prefers Law & Order.
DAY 2: THE SEMIFINALS
The alarm clock on Day 2 was immediately followed by a symphony of groans. Everything hurt. For once, I felt glad to be a goalie, because even though my muscles were killing me, at least my legs weren’t rainbow-coloured like the other girls’. Our semi-final game was against Victoria, the team that beat us in our opener before we had our heads screwed on properly. And unlike Friday, it was NOT a beautiful day out there. There was some serious weather going on. Taking the advice of a team that had already played, we wrapped hockey tape sticky-side-out around our running shoes for extra traction.
Rather than sum up the semi-final, I’ll just recommend you check out the footage. The first half of that clip is the men’s semifinal, but if you skip ahead they filmed a lot of our game. At 49:30ish you’ll hear us get an excellent shoutout on HNIC. Surely Kyle Wellwood must be aware of us now! Other highlights include Kos’s beauty of a tying goal at 56:50, and of course the shootout at the end, where Sunshine sniped blocker side to seal the victory. I love shootout victories because I get to execute the glove-and-blocker-throw celebration. PITB was well represented at the semis by @beninvictoria, who braved the rain with a sign that said “Wellard”. Is that a Wellwood/Ballard combo or something? I can never keep up with the Internet.
Editor's note: One Bulie is hardly "well-represented." But thanks to Ben for being our Victorian ambassador.
We only had forty minutes between the end of the semis and the final against Calgary. We used the time to try and dry off, which in retrospect was 100% pointless. While we were inside, the rain turned sideways and got angrier.
I think there were two interesting things about the final game. One was that there was live play-by-play commentary over the speakers. It’s a strange feeling to play hockey and be able to make a play and hear it evaluated with your name mispronounced all at the same time! The other interesting thing is what happened to Kim Allan’s face.
This is Kim Allan, and her face doesn’t always look like this. Despite getting her teeth loosened by a high stick in the first half of the final, she stayed in the game and didn’t miss a shift. The Calgary player was very apologetic after the game, so there are no hard feelings, but it was still a gruesome moment . Being girls, we usually wear full cages, so eating a hockey stick is a relatively rare occurrence. It’s three days later and she’s still tweezing fibreglass shards from the inside of her mouth.
I guess I’m obligated to mention that we lost the final by a score of 5-1. But it was 2-1 with three minutes left, so it was actually a really close game! Ben, who donned a stylish poncho for this one, can vouch for that. Calgary scored on a penalty shot to make it 3-1, then I got pulled in a desperate attempt to come back, and it backfired on us. I don’t want to talk about it. Too soon, too soon.
As runners-up, we got our hotel rooms comped for the weekend and a nice buffet breakfast on Sunday morning (mmmm.... Victory Bacon...). Even though we didn’t win Nationals, we had a great Saturday night out on the town, and then finally it was time to drag our hung-over bodies back into the team bus (read: my Ford Taurus wagon) and board the ferry back to reality. What a weekend, though. It was awesome to have a good old fashioned hockey roadie with some of my best friends.
That’s the greatest thing about the Wellwoods, really... when push comes to shove, I know every single one of those girls has my back, and vice versa. I’d take a bullet (or a mouthful of fiberglass) for any of them. And teams like that don’t just come along every day.
Thanks for reading, and keep following @TheWellwoods because you definitely haven’t seen the last of us. "Soft hands, Sharp minds, and Overall Adorableness!"
Editor's note: many thanks to the Wellwoods for being the best group o' ladies since the cast of Designing Women.