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Comeback of the Decade


by Redd Fischer
You must all know that I am writing this in a very bad mood. As so often happens in international hockey, Team Canada has collapsed under the weight of the enormous, and possibly unreasonable, expectations placed upon its hockey team. The United States were outshot and out-chanced, but managed to ride a brilliant performance by Ryan Miller to a well deserved 5-3 victory. 
Does this mean Canada is out? Of course not but they do now have to play Germany by whom they barely squeaked 3-2 on their way to Olympic glory in 2002. Should they beat Germany, they will face Russia who scored a 2-1 quarterfinal victory in Turin in 2006, followed by successive 2-1 victories over our boys in the 2008 & 2009 World Championship gold medal games. One would think that Canada will be in tough but sooner or later the one goal games have to go their way. Or do they? 
Will Canada become a bit like the British in football, tortured by their inexplicable inability to clinch the deal on the biggest international stage despite clearly hosting the world’s best professional league? I don’t know the answer and this bothers me. What I do know is that Canada has 12 of the Top 20 scorers in the NHL and their B Team would be a credible medal threat, something no other country can boast. Unfortunately our best are about as good as the other Top 6 hockey nations’ best and so, in one off tournaments, one needs as much luck as skill to win. I fear that our boys are wound so tight that they could not get lucky in Roppongi with a satchel full of ichiman-en bills. 
And so I am riled up, fired up and generally irked. I have not given up the ghost but I fear the ghosts of Phil Esposito calling out Canadian fans in 1972, Bobby Orr playing on one knee in 1976, Greztky and Lemieux studiously ignoring a wide open Larry Murphy in 1987 and an older, puffier Gretzky lamenting the fact that the whole world hates us in 2002 may not have an equal in 2010, as they had no equal in 2006, and that we may find ourselves working quietly at the office on the morning of March 1st in Tokyo rather than sitting at Legend’s pretending to be at a dentist’s office as our boys play for gold. 
I am mad as hell damnit and don’t try and tell me that it is just a game. I know it is just a game. I just want Canada to pound on everyone this year because we are at home and because everyone is making fun of our hokey opening ceremonies, our stupid accents and our ludicrous assertion that we would, “Own the Podium”. I want to stuff it down their throats, beat my chest and say, “Take that.” Perhaps I feel too much but those of you who know me well know that I cannot help it and so this is the mood I am in as I describe the classic battle of last night. 
Team Red stunk the joint out for 45 minutes. I mean it. They were terrible. The defense was coughing it up and the forwards could not hit the broad side of a barn on the 2-3 shots they actually got. Team White should be embarrassed. Instead of trying to smash the Reds 12-0, they sat around on the bench and talked about how they should even things up a bit. While they did this, and I was the worst of them all, Team Red mounted a massive comeback in the final 45 or so minutes, wiping out a 9-3 lead and walking off with a 13-11 regulation time, 3 Olympic point victory. How did it happen? Here is my take and, as always, the facts have been only spottily checked and are biased by my view from just inside the blue line. 
Before the game was 20 minutes old it was 6-1 White. Shawn Montague, Mike LaRose and Brent McCain were buzzing from everywhere. Montague opened the scoring early. LaRose banged in two, one an absolute laser that darn near decapitated Nobu Araki who was valiant in even standing in front of that bomb. McCain banged one in from close range. Guillaume Desgranges, a new guy arrived from Kuala Lumpur and a native of that hockey hotbed of Angers, France also chipped in two of his eventual four goals with some dogged forechecking. It should have been over. Team Red got it to 6-3 but two garbage goals from Koby and Desgranges made it 8-3 White. Montague sprung McCain for a breakaway which he converted to make things 9-3 White. It was as if, as referee Chuck V put it, the Big V was playing the JV. 
This seemed to get the Red siders going. Upon hearing Chuck’s comment, I casually asked Patty Morris and Lowtalkin’ Dave who they needed to even things up. They politely asked me to get my “puck off the ice” or at least that is what I think I heard. Their honor stung, Team Red started the comeback. I had provided the bulletin board material that would inspire them. The line of Morris, Ed Parsons and BJ got cranking and missed a ton of glorious chances but refused to give up. All of them got their just rewards at one point or another over the next few minutes as each banged in at least one. BJ’s in particular was a thing of beauty as he faked about three shots before unleashing a dagger low glove side to get the ball rolling. At the same time, the defensive corps of Kevin Holt, Lowtalkin’ Dave and Mihail “Sputnik” Markov stepped up and started moving the puck as we thought they would on paper. “Sputnik” got a beauty after dangling through at least two or three White defenders. The White line of Dave McKinnon, Dan Stevens and Ogi also got in on the act as they typically do. They dug and banged their way to a goal apiece with Dan “the Silent Assassin” Stevens eventually tying it up at nines. 
Team White moved Kevin Meehan back on to defense with Rob Smaal to try and re-kindle some of that old Black Magic and the White defense, comprised of the aforementioned as well as Brent Carlson and Simon Greaves held on valiantly as Team Red stormed shift after shift.
The teams traded punches to make it 11-11 and this led to a furious final five minutes when referee Chuck V, who called a great game, provided stinging commentary and let the boys decide it on the ice, decided to put the whistle in the pocket and let it all go. White had a glorious chance to put it away when Brent Carlson danced through the neutral zone and hit McCain wide open in front of the net whereupon McCain inexplicably tried to one time a pass to a covered Shawn Montague. The play was broken up and, as so often happens, a good scoring chance is followed by an even better one at the other end. Once again Dan Stevens found the back of the net for Red to put them ahead for good. Sooner or later White will learn that this guy is money in front of the net but tonight they did not. 
This was one for the ages. It was a battle of two perfectly matched teams who each played 45 minutes of excellent hockey and 45 minutes of gosh awful hockey. He who laughs last laughs best it is said and Team Red played their strong 45 minutes last and, as such, they are rewarded with the last laugh. Make the final 13-11 Team Red. 
Your Allied Pickfords 3 Stars
1st Star: Patty Morris (RED) – He was everywhere and while he may have only had 2 goals, it was his steadfast refusal to give up or to accept quarter from Team White that provided the spark for the comeback. Often you win because you are the last one to give up. Patty Mo never gave up for one half of one shift.
2nd Star: Brent McCain (WHITE) – 3 goals and a couple of helpers. He also picked amazing teams that clearly could not have been any better if professional scouts were doing the squads. In fact, I daresay that as an evaluator of talent he stands unsurpassed in the annals of this great sport of hockey. Would have been a 1st star if he could have finished the job on the Carlson pass. 
3rd Star: Lowtalkin’ Dave Lotocki (RED) – He also refused quarter in no uncertain terms, started laying the body and dishing the puck here, there and everywhere. He made it really tough in the 2nd half for anyone wearing a White jersey.  

Olympic BBQ Party


The Tokyo Canadians hosted a BBQ Party at the Canadian Embassy coinciding with the Olympic Opening Ceremony on February 13, 2010. This was a great event and fun for the whole family!

The Embassy set up four big screen TVs in the event space and streamed the Opening Ceremony live. There were plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs and other goodies on which to munch.

The TCHC also had a two-hour beer and wine nomihodai and had entertainer, Willy, visit to entertain the kids!

All of  proceeds were donated to charity. The two charities the TCHC selected for this event were the Canadian Cancer Society and the CAN Fund, a charitable organization supporting Canadian amateur athletes.

Fit to be Tied


The first game of the 2010 season was held at Jingu on Sunday and Teams Red and White battled to an epic 11-11 tie. Ties are often referred to as a “sister kisser” and not in the mildly interesting James Voigt/Angelina Jolie sense. This game, however, was nothing of the sort, providing a little something interesting for everyone.

Post holiday hangovers and New Year’s Resolutions took their toll on attendance as each side iced only 2 full lines prompting honorary Team Red captain Rob Smaal, who holds the honour of being the only current player born during the Eisenhower administration, to ask when the first break would be. Informed that this would be a battle to the death, or 11:30 whichever comes first, Smaaly said a few Hail Marys and hopped the boards for what would be the first of his 80 minutes of ice time on the night.

Team White dominated the early going and got solid goaltending from Nobu Araki, who was breaking in his new “circa 2002-03” JS Giguere equipment that Santa thoughtfully left under the tree. Clearly Santa was not watching while Nobu was awake at Sayuri and Propoganda the other night, but I digress. Dave “Nike Sucks” McKinnon got the White siders on the board early with a pretty shot to the top shelf.

Red started to get things going quickly thereafter, however, and Mike LaRose, who was conspicuously absent last game, bagged his first of 4 (if you are counting) to even things up. White came storming back and after McKinnon pounded one off the post, Scott Collins jumped on the rebound and got his first goal in a Red and White game as Team Red looked for a whistle from referee Chuck Vincent.

Replays showed that Chuck V was right on the money in his call and the goal stood. The line of McKinnon, the always dangerous Dan Stevens and the raw, but talented, rookie Collins were creating lots of chances and would bag more than their fair share on this night and stake Team White to an early lead. This put Team White up by a few early and created a hole out of which Team Red would eventually need to climb.

The 3M line (McCain, Montague and McDonald) created a lot of chances with Lotockin’ Dave and Koby quarterbacking at the point but had come up zeroes for about the first 30 minutes. A turnover behind the net was gathered up by Brent McCain who fed Shawn Montague for a one timer that squeezed through Nobu’s new pads. Seconds later, Bruce McDonald did what we pay him the big bucks to do and dug the puck out of the corner and on to the stick of McCain who went high on Nobu and suddenly the game was 5-4.

Next shift, Rosey was at it again and all of a sudden a slow start had turned into a nice little game of fire wagon hockey. The momentum clearly shifted and Red started to pull away as LaRose piled up a couple more goals and dished left and right to special guest star Chris Antonelli and Tim Laurie as their line carried the load for Red and Tatsu started to take charge in Red’s net flashing that glove that has earned him so much acclaim in this column. Said Collins, “I will have nightmares about that glove. I had the game in my hand and he robbed me.”

Just when it looked like Red would walk away with things, Naoki Kaneko and his ANA Line woke up. With goals from Kaneko, Ogi and a patented Chaw wrister from the circle, the game was close again. The defense of Nick Bigwood, Kevin the Kid Holt and Mihail “Sputnik” Markov tightened. The goal of the night goes to Dan Stevens who converted on a pretty little three way passing play, shoulder faking Tatsu and sliding it into the gaping net. Call it 9-9 at this stage.

LaRose and Montague got quick late goals and it looked like the Red gang would come away with a hard earned two points. It was not to be on this night as once again youth, in the form of Naoki, was served with a couple of late goals to tie things up. A frenzied last minute and a half solved nothing and Chuck V whistled it dead at 11:30 on the dot. Make the final 11-11.

Your Allied Pickfords 3 Stars 

1st Star: Mike LaRose with 4 goals, a couple of helpers and a whole lot of spit, grit and duct tape. 

2nd Star: Dave McKinnon with a couple of goals early and got in on a couple more late. Sparked the “2nd line” and gave Red something more than Naoki to worry about. 

3rd Star: Dan Stevens with the goal of the game.


Comings and Goings

The rather fluid nature of the Tokyo ex-pat community took its toll on TCHC over the holidays. Two key members of the squad have been repatriated to the Motherland.

Jade Leung: He had a major impact in his first 18 months keying a tournament victory in Bangkok and preparing what is now and forever more will be the best balance sheet TCHC has ever seen. Jade was a solid defenseman on the ice, a regular social event attendee and a strong participant in the off ice activities, departing as the Treasurer on the Executive Committee. He will be missed but I suspect he will be back if only for the odd tourney in Bangkok, the Mississauga Firefighters Old Boys tournament proving not so exciting now that he has seen the world.

Cam Knox: Another standing member of the exec, Cam is a long time TCHC member whose on ice exploits are too many for us to list in this column. Anyone who has seen Cam coming down the wing with a full head of steam, no shoulder pads and a sense of purpose knows what a player he has been. Cam has been a member of many of the trophy shelf building efforts of TCHC over the years and a strong social member having most recently headed the efforts to raise funds for the Run for Hope (Terry Fox Run) as well as being one of the few who actually made it around the 10 km circuit. Here’s hoping that this is not the end of Cam’s time here in Tokyo.

Please join us in wishing Cam and Jade happiness and success in their new ventures.

White Trims Red for Xmas


No themes or special games were needed for the final Red and White game of 2009. The boys showed up ready to go and despite some last minute scratches and a couple of no shows, the turnout was solid and the teams very even. As has been the case in most of the games this year, the offenses started slowly and the defenses dominated….for about 5 minutes before all hell broke loose.

Team White jumped out to a huge lead only to see a superior conditioned Red squad come storming back to make this one of the closest and most entertaining games of the year. Capitalizing on a defensive turnover and a set of wingers perched perilously high in their “own zone,” JO Caron banged home White’s first goal of the night. Naoki and Cam Knox wreaked havoc in Team Red’s zone and, on the first of a pair of Joji Hiratsuka’s goals and at least one from grizzled veteran Patty Morris, White was flying. Denny Waechter, back from his hammy sustained while barbequing too aggressively, also chipped in with a pretty shot over Tatsu’s oft tested but rarely beaten glove hand and the White siders had a 5-0 lead.

Team Red was not ready to give up however. Jim Heather and newly minted president and sometime Embassy denizen Dave Lotocki rallied the troops. The self proclaimed 3M line of Brent McCain, Shawn Montague and Bruce McDonald hopped the boards and had a spirited shift or two highlighted by Montague missing 2 wide open nets, McCain firing a one timer 8 feet wide from 2 feet out and McDonald tipping a slap shot into McCain’s throat before running into and nearly decapitating Montague. Chris Antonelli got things going in the right direction by corralling a puck at the point, leaving the covering winger jockless with a nifty move and roof daddying Red’s 1st goal of the night. Montague got off the schneid cashing in a pretty pass from McDonald for his first of an eventual hat trick and things started to look better for Red at 5-2.

After a series of blatant muggings, referee Chuck “oh my aching groin” Vincent had had enough. After a Red defender pretended to hit Cammer, Chuck called the 1st penalty shot of the year and Cammer made no mistake on this night making it 6-2 White.

The line of Dave “Nike Sucks” McKinnon, Tim Laurie and Dan Stevens then started to carry the load chipping in 2-3 quick ones and with big Bruce McDonald netting his first of two, the score was tied 6-6. Joji’s second goal was set up by a brilliant rush by fellow cagey veteran, Rob Smaal.

It brought tears to the eyes of all who could remember Bobby Orr streaking through defenders and dishing to Phil Esposito in the days of the Big Bad Bruins. Unfortunately, the only guys old enough to remember watching this combination in person were Smaaly and Joji - and I think their tears were the result of a lack of oxygen more than tears of joy. Red came back again and Nick Bigwood tied the score at 8 which touched off a brief but delirious celebration on the Red bench.

Team White was too much on this night, however. Shifting Cammer back to the point and Roppon Guy Roberge back up front created just the spark White needed. Defensive stalwart Jade Leung banged one in. Naoki continued to be too much for Red’s old legs to handle and eventually the score ballooned back to 12-8.

White was dead or so most thought. Shawn Montague completed his hat trick, Brent McCain converted a late breakaway and suddenly things were tight again. Jimmer consulted the team and yanked Tatsu in favor of an extra skater, throwing McCain back over the boards and getting instant rewards when the Montrealer banked one in from the doorstep to make it 12-11 with a minute to go. Team White proved too much as Naoki outlegged the spent defense and buried an empty netter with 30 seconds left, the final dagger as it turned out. Make the final 13-11 White.

Your Allied Pickfords 3 Stars 
Naoki Kaneko (White) – Speed kills and he had speed to burn as well as 4 goals and a bunch of chances created. 
Joji Hiratsuka (White) – Two big goals and lots of jam. 
Shawn Montague (Red) – Paced team Red with 3 goals.



Red Hammers White


The 2nd Red & White game of the year took place last Sunday and another big turnout sparked a lively affair. Team White stormed out of the gate but Tatsu was flashing leather as he had been in our glorious Bangkok victory. With cat like reflexes and a quick glove Tatsu kept team White off the board well into the game despite a furious attack from the Mark Didcott/Cam Knox/Patty Morris line. Joji got in on the act, dancing through the defense before getting stoned by a suddenly scorching hot Tatsu.

Team Red, buoyed by the keeper, started to pepper Nobu who would eventually see more rubber than a Roppongi Saturday night. Jade Leung got his first R&W goal of the year to break the ice and the defense continued to contribute as newly minted president Dave "Low-shootin'" Lotocki fired a laser low to the glove side and with a loud ping of the post, Team Red was up 2-0. Newcomer Bruce McDonald then scored the first of his 3 on the night from the doorstep. Back in the 50s Bill Mosienko set a record by scoring 3 goals in 21 seconds. The Elias Sports Bureau confirms that Bruce has set a new 3 goal record, netting the hat trick from a combined total of 9 inches from the goal line. Congratulations on this record breaking effort.

Patty Mo broke the ice for Team White to get the score back to 4-1. Diddler, who was sporting a vicious hangover and a penitent soul, banged home his first of 3 to get things rolling and Nick Bigwood's wrister sailed by a screened Tatsu to get things to 4-3. A couple of late whistles later, Team Red was up 7-3 with goals coming from Frank Harrison (2), Dave "Reebok SWAG for Everyone" McKinnon and a host of others, possibly including JO Caron.

The score went back to 7-4 when a wrap around effort by Brent McCain was video reviewed and Diddler was awarded his second of the night about 25 minutes after the fact when it was determined that no whistle ever blew on the play before he banged it home. This was done without any warning and/or consultation but in the end it had relatively little impact due to the solid defensive efforts of Red's impressive blue line of Leung, Lowshootin’ Dave, Young Kevin Holt and Mihail "Sputnik" Markov. White's line 2 of Jiffy, Tim Laurie and Koby were turned away time and again as Team White struggled valiantly to get back into the contest.

Roppon Guy moved up front while Cammer dropped back on D with Jim Heather to create some offense for Team White and spurred by a cantankerous and inspiring Brent "Killer" Carlson a 5th goal was scored but that was all for the white siders. Brian May, Dan Stevens, special guest star Chris Antonelli and the rest of the Red forwards kept the heat on and eventually the flood gates opened up. Make the final 11-5 Team Red.

On a sad note, this game was Brian May's last one as he will move to Dallas shortly. Please join me in thanking him for his contribution to the team on and off the ice and in wishing him well in his future endeavors. Come back soon Brian and know that a spot is always open if you find yourself back here.

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R&W scrimmage:

Sep 18 (SUN) @ Jingu skate rink 

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