ALEXANDRIA BAY Amid a flurry of activity Sunday to close the Labatt Blue 1000 Islands Pond Hockey Tournament, there was a nice bit of revenge for the River Relics squad as it took on the Twine Ticklers in the senior division championship game.
Last year, the Relics squad, playing as the ACS Remember Whens, fell in overtime, 9-8. The Relics got off to a good start Saturday, dropping the rival Ticklers by a familiar 9-8 overtime score. The two teams, playing strongly in the opening round robin, set up a rematch in the title game.
Fred Dobbins, who plays on the Relics, said one reason for the close games was that most of the players grew up in the area. All players in the senior division were at least 50 years old.
We all know each others moves, he said.
The annual tournament is in its third year, and for organizer Richard S. Thomson, the event represents a simpler time for the game.
Its back to the natural beginning of hockey, Mr. Thomson said. Its the fundamentals.
Seventeen teams from both sides of the border competed in the tournament, an increase from 15 the previous year. With varying levels of snow falling through the morning, crews could be seen shoveling off debris and resurfacing the ice between games.
Youre dealing with what Mother Nature gave you, Mr. Thomson said.
Variables such as the weather, the four-on-four play, the smaller 80-by-40-foot surface and the twin 10-by-6-inch goal slits required a shift in play, even for experienced players. The result was a quick, high-scoring game requiring quick passing and thinking to get close enough to score.
Its a different game, said James E. Hagen, a village resident who played on the Mother Pucking River Rats team. He said the local tie keeps bringing him back to play.
Its kids I grew up with here in the Bay, he said.
Back at the senior championship, the Relics got off to a strong start, taking a 5-1 lead in the first half. However, the game balanced out early in the second half, as the Twine Ticklers scored a pair of goals to draw the score close.
Unwilling to let their chance for payback fade away, the Relics started scoring at a frantic pace, putting the game out of contention. The final score: 9-4.
We kept the offensive, Mr. Dobbins said. You cant go on the defensive.
After the game, Mr. Dobbins said it felt good to win, but he didnt want to rub in the victory too much. That may be for good reason. Odds are, theyll be battling each other again next year.
In other games Sunday, the Alex Bay Puck Hogs took the intermediate division crown, while Garlocks Lumberkings won the tournaments junior division.
Video from the tournament can be seen at http://wdt.me/ABay-hockey.