Some say there’s a curse preventing the top-seeded team from winning in the oldtimer hockey league. If so, it was extra potent this year.
The oldtimer league wrapped up Wednesday with Kilrich, who ended the regular season in sixth, defeating fifth place Edgewater Hotel 1-0 at the Canada Games Centre.
The star of the show was Kilrich goalie Mike Hawkins, recording his fourth shutout in the team’s eight playoff games.
“I didn’t even know until the guys told me just now,” said Hawkins. “I come to play hockey and have a good time and hope for the best.
“The team played really well for me, so I was just helping out where I could. I was directing traffic more than anything at the end there because (Edgewater) was playing really well.”
Scoring the game’s lone goal was Kilrich defenceman Bob Allison, taking a pass from John Skilnyk from behind the net. Allison put it through Edgewater goalie Shawn Cassellman’s skates as he stuck out his stick to stop the pass.
“I just got lucky tonight,” said Allison. “John Skilnyk did all the work. He came all the way around the net, I was just in the right place, that’s all.”
Allison, who missed the first half of the season, surprisingly didn’t get a goal until the final regular season game.
“I got two goals in that game—my first two goals—and I said at that time we’re going to go all the way,” said Allison.
“We’re a sixth-place team and we came all the way through and it’s great. They’re a good bunch of guys and a lot of fun.”
Kilrich beat Edgewater in their previous post-season encounter, scoring in the last two minutes to come from behind and win 3-2. Bob Allison also drove in the game-winner in that game.
“One little defensive mistake and they got a goal; other than that I thought our game was pretty good too,” said Edgewater’s Shelby Workman of the final.
Edgewater was not without scoring opportunities, out-shooting Kilrich 18-17 in the game. Brent Cooper was at the forefront of a couple of those chances, hitting the crossbar early in the game. Then, with just three and a half minutes left in regulation time, Cooper found himself alone in front with the puck, but was foiled by Hawkins who stacked the couch cushions and got a leg up to stop a second shot.
“They’re a good team,” said Hawkins. “Cooper was getting me on all his shots—he hit the crossbar on that one shot right at the beginning of the game. I thought, ‘Oh man, if he gets by (the defence) like that again he’s going to bury it on me.’ Fortunately, the team kept them at bay.”
“Our game plan was to get some traffic in front of Mike (Hawkins) because we know he’s one of the better goaltenders in the league,” said Workman. “We tried our best, but he kept kicking them out.”
To get to the finals Edgewater defeated top-seeded Medicine Chest 3-1 the previous Sunday. Edgewater’s Gord Peterson, despite a lower body injury, managed to score two goals and produce an assist.
“He can’t skate like he usually can,” said Workman. “But we just pulled together and tried to get it done—we wanted to play tomorrow night—but I guess we were a couple goals short. That’s the way she goes.”
Hawkins recently had a memorable experience, playing in net for the Oldtimer Hockey Challenge last month, facing such players as Hall of Famers Glen Anderson and Billy Smith. Many other NHL greats were in town for the event.
“It was just by luck I guess—I’m not too sure,” said Hawkins. “Seems like I was playing some good hockey, so they called me up and asked to play against them. I met Billy Smith, so that was pretty cool. I don’t play like him, but he’s a good goaltender so I enjoy watching him play.”
Now that the skates are away and the golf clubs are coming out, oldtimer players can only wonder how next year’s draft will unfold.
“It’s a great league—we have a draft every year,” said Workman. “We have eight pickers, so guys I don’t like playing against this year could be my teammates next year. It makes that league fun—this is my fifth or sixth year—so I’ve played with almost everybody in the league. It makes the league more friendly.”
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