13.7 C
Niagara Falls
Monday, April 15, 2024
Wallbangers hockey features close and clean games

Early each Sunday morning from October until late April, approximately 22 enthusiastic Niagara area hockey lovers show up for their Wallbangers Old Timers game.

Both dressing rooms are filled with good-natured banter, and inquiries about each other’s injuries and medical issues. After getting suited up in Blue or Red sweaters, the two captains make last minute lineup adjustments, in the attempt to produce a close score at the end of the day.

Breakfast at Silk’s Country Kitchen follows the game, and awesome servers Lisa, Jen and Michelle tell us the conversation around the table is much more civilized following high-scoring, penalty-free games. There are no referees at Wallbangers games, so all games are penalty free. On occasion, angry words may be exchanged after bumps along the boards or in the dirty zone in front of the net, but cooler heads always prevail.

Last Sunday at Blue Team’s strategy session, winger and goaltender Sean Simpson went on at some length about focussing on speed and stretch passes. He had been to a recent Buffalo Sabres game. “There’s of lot of advantage to stretching the ice, pulling defencemen back and creating gap challenges. Use the stretch guy, and take advantage of speed underneath.”

It all seems a bit complicated for our level of hockey, but overall, this results in “an integrated approach to optimum Old Timers hockey.”

Meanwhile, in the Red Team dressing room, smiling Marcel Lounsbury from Rectangle Auto Service and Supply, a third generation business and our trusted source for service, used auto parts and new cars on Cushman Road at Welland Avenue in St. Catharines, was going on about something he had learned at a recent Hockey Canada coaching seminar. “We want our wingers to say Go. Try the home run pass, and if it is not successful, check down and look for guys underneath.” Several of his teammates looked up from taping on their shin pads and muttered, “Huh?”

This season has seen several new players join Wallbangers hockey. Joe Doria has convinced his high level golfing buddy Ricky Watson to set his alarm clock for 5:55 a.m. on Sundays, and this quick and slick forward has been a great addition to Blue Team. Ricky has already treated us to a few highlight reel goals, giving a lot a credit to his former kids hockey coach Al Janzen. “He stressed positioning. Don’t go to where the puck is. Go to where the puck is going to be.” Ricky is very patient with us older guys, and always has a positive comment as we change lines. We are all trying our best.

There was no talk about the new cannabis legislation, as our various levels of government have made a total gong show, to be polite, of the rollout. Confusion about growing methods, retail and online selling and distribution continues, with the ongoing strike at Canada Post further clouding the situation. Bill Dickson and the Wallbangers Competion Committee will meet sometime to draft a league policy regarding this new situation. Think medicine, not drugs, might guide their thinking.

Last Sunday’s game ending in a 6-6 tie. Despite the high score, Blue Team’s defence was stellar, led by rock solid veteran Dave Shantz. A stay-at-home player, in the mould (mold) of legendary Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Doug Harvey, his style of play allows his son Mark (Blue Team captain), Mike Bruce and Josh Wiwcharyk to be aggressive, jumping into the rush and in some games they score more goals the Blue Team forwards.

After this fun and competitive contest, 18 of the 22 players showered up and made their way to Silk’s Country Kitchen for a debrief. Team captains Carl Glauser and Mark Shantz eventually agreed that my first period lazer like shot to the top right corner over Rob Vanderperk’s shoulder had indeed gone in. It was in and out so fast that play had not been stopped. Terry St. Amand, owner of the Welland Harvey’s, described this play as “a bewdy-ful thing. A Big Harv.” This former Merrittville Speedway Sportsmen’s division champion was the only spectactor at Meridan Arena, and said he could actually follow our “slow motion hockey.”

But I digress…

Wallbangers Commissioner Bill Dickson had already entered the score in the Official Score record, so to save any hassle, the league office agreed to leave it at 6-6. That way, almost all players are happy, and this is the overriding goal of Wallbangers hockey. A good fast?? game with great guys, no injuries, and lots of good-natured banter at Silk’s later.

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