TCHC – July R&W Roundup - White Pummels Red
This weekend was full of great sports stories. Darren Clarke, after years of knocking at the door, barged through and captured his first major at The Open at Royal St. George’s. Japan’s women’s team beat the US on penalties to capture their first FIFA World Cup. The win was obviously meaningful in a variety of ways. First, it provided a good news story for a people who have suffered immensely in recent months. Second, it showed that Japanese women can compete at the highest level of sport and now it gives a very public face to women in sport in a national sports scene rather dominated by men. As I watched the highlights of this game, I tried to come up with parallels to other great sporting moments. I first thought of the New Orleans Saints, whose Super Bowl victory two years ago provided a sense of hope for its fans in New Orleans as it tried to recover from Hurricane Katrina which has damaged the city irreparably. This was on the world stage as the Super Bowl is now one of the most watched sporting events in history but it was a competition of highly paid professional athletes and, in truth, only the US and Canada really care about or play football at a high level. Maybe the Miracle Mets? Russia beats the US in basketball at the 72 Games? Everything fell short because, for me, professional teams just do not give me the goose bumps that I get from a group of underdogs who take on the world while working second jobs or going to college. If you accept all of this then you would have to accept that this victory is close to, or on a par with, the Miracle on Ice in 1980. The parallels are striking. In 1980, American confidence was at an all time low. Famously, Jimmy Carter gave a speech lamenting this fact and pointing out that young people, for the first time in American history, felt that they would not do better than the generation before. Japan has been mired in a spiral of deflation and stagnant growth for many years now. The American lads were a bunch of college kids, many of whom were passing up pro contracts to play for a coach who was hell bent on beating them into believing that they could play with the Soviets. I am not sure what coaching tactics took place but I am sure that none of the Japanese ladies will get rich plying their current trade. Spit, grit and a lot of duct tape is what both teams applied in facing their biggest game. They held on long enough to make it about one lucky bounce. They both beat a team that would beat them 9 times out of 10, “but not tonight”. They both provided their country a great moment that made them believe, if only for a moment, that things will get better. They both showed the world that anything is possible and in times like these, a tangible demonstration of this fact is a ray of hope so badly needed.
Sunday night’s R&W game was not a classic. Team White showed up and Red was unable to provide the gritty comeback story that the Japanese soccer team did. Guy Roberge lit the lamp to start things up by coming off the point where he played so well to beat Nobu Araki low with a good hard shot. Naoki Keneko added a couple and White was off to an early 3-0 lead. The line of Ogi, newcomer Fred Sanford and Ryo Miyazaki got Red on the board with some nice forechecking and second effort in front as Ogi banged in a rebound to make it 3-1. The 3 M line then had a decent shift with Patty Morris taking a long pass from Shawn Montague and springing Brent McCain for a break. McCain clanged the shot off the post and that was about as close as Red would get for the rest of the night. As so often happens, a save or a great chance at one end is often traded for another and, as the puck caromed off the post, Togo Kaneko was sprung for a breakaway which he converted and the floodgates were opened. Satoshi Kobayashi, Mihail Komatsu and possibly Kevin Holt/Marc Bookman scored in a matter of minutes and ran things to 7-1.
Red did not give up. Brent Carlson and former University of Saskatchewan Husky, Chad Fleck held the line for Red as the boys scrambled to get things righted up front. Eisuke Shimizu, however, held Red off the scoresheet long enough to let Koby’s College Kids fire in a few more for Team White. Bobby Chung got on the board with a pretty conversion of a one timer and the score was 11-1. There would be no great sports comeback but the Red bench decided to play the last period as if they were starting over. Buffalo’s favorite son Chuck V finally batted one home after being stoned a few times earlier. Montague converted two goals. Patty Mo also bagged one but Naoki and the College Kids bagged 3 for White in the final frame. Red did take the frame 4-3. The 3rd period victory was small consolation for Red as White walked away with a big and well earned victory. Make the final about 14-4 for Team White.
Your Allied Pickfords 3 Stars
1st Star – Satoshi Kobayashi – White – Koby played pretty well but his biggest contribution came in getting his college kids out and convincing McCain to have that Iwami (sp?) kid on his team. I think he had about 14 points.
2nd Star – Naoki Kaneko – White – Too much speed for Red to handle and played 200 feet of the ice which made things difficult for some old legs out there
3rd Star – Bobby Chung – Played with his buddy Steve from back home, banged in a pretty goal was overall pretty solid.
R&W – June Roundup
After 3 long months, the Jingu Ice Rink re-opened its doors and Sunday night our boys in Red & White strapped them on and hit the ice for the first time since our triple tragedy. To say that the boys were excited would be an under statement. Most arrived early wanting to be the first back on the ice at the repaired and re-enforced arena. The last arrival, perhaps sensing that a dramatic entrance was warranted after he was savagely derided after last season’s historic 3rd round loss of his beloved home town squad, was Chris Antonelli. Anto strode in around 10 minutes before puck drop and was dressed head to toe in Boston Bruins paraphernalia. He was unwavering in his support and received his just rewards as he basked in the glory of the Bruins first Cup victory in 39 years. Boston is once again a hockey city as Chicago was last year at this time and the revival of passion for our game in these traditional strongholds is a good thing for hockey.
The game got off to a fast start with everybody ready to shake off the rust and anxious to get back on the board. Tatsu was manning the net for Red and Eisuke Shimizu was filling in for Nobu Araki on white, Nobu having travelled home to Vancouver to take in Game 7 and possibly setting a record for distance travelled to take a kick in the groin. Actually, Mark Didcott also went back and went so far as to travel to Boston to watch his beloved Canucks get dismantled so maybe he gets the nod over Nobu. Red got on the board first on a fast break by Naoto Hamashima and new member, Kaku Sato. Hama took the outside route and fired a cross ice pass which was deflected by a hard back checking Naoki Kaneko right past Shimizu for a quick 1-0 Red lead. Naoki got it back taking a home run pass from Omi about 5 minutes later and knotting things at 1-1. If you are planning on reading this to the end, you may wish to remember those names as they all figured pretty prominently in the final score.
Hama finished off a beautiful rush with a filthy “jam on the brakes/cut back to the forehand” deke to put Red up 2-1 and then Dave Lotocki fired a point shot that rattled off a few legs and found twine to give Red a 3-1 lead. Omi and Naoki traded goals with Hama and the 1st period ended with Red up 4-3.
The 3M line of Shawn Montague, Patty Morris and Brent McCain were pretty silent to this point but got things moving as Montague dug a puck out of the corner and slid it in front to McCain who got a backhand to just slide 5-hole and square things at 4. Naoto and Omi swapped goals again with Omi getting a beautiful feed from International Man of Mystery , Chuck V. Montague busted back and with a nice wrap around the game was back to 6-6 and you kind of got the feeling that this was going to come down to a last minute goal to decide the outcome. The Naoto/Omi show continued with Chuck V/Kaneko playing set up on the White side as Mike LaRose and Kaku played set up for Red.
With the 3rd underway it was time for the other lines to shine. Morris fed Montague behind the net and he spotted McCain alone in front. The one timer was kicked out by Tatsu but McCain was on the rebound and things were at 8-8. Antonelli got on the board for Red finishing off a beautiful pass from Satoshi Chawanya and celebrating his own big goal. Mark Bookman spotted Omi up the middle for White a minute later and we were tied again.
A special note here for the defense on both sides. Due to a few last minute cancellations we were down to 3 aside and White player/coach Rob Smaal and James “Jimmer” Heather were White’s only real defenders. Joji Hiratsuka once again agreed to drop back and all 3 did an admirable job of keeping White in things while the offense heated up with Jimmer providing more than his fair share of home run passes. The same went for the Red siders who had Lowtalker and Mihail Komatsu as the only rearguards. Satoshi Kobayashi sucked it up for Red and anyone who has ever had to stare down the barrel of Hama or Naoki appreciated it. In fact, Smaaly almost put the game away with an odd man rush and then a point shot that was just deflected wide by a White attacker late in the 3rd.
Things were at 11-9 White with about 5 minutes left when the fates intervened. After 13 years, Mike LaRose has decided to move to Switzerland to accept a position at his company’s HQ. Rosey has been a big part of TCHC with his booming shot and soft spoken leadership and he was in no mood to go out without a bang. He got the boomer to go in to get things to 11-10 and with a few ticks of the clock he sprang on a rebound and tied it up to the delight of Red’s bench. That is the way it ended and it was a fitting ending for the June addition. Make the final 11-11 and send Rosey off with a 2 goal clutch performance.
Your Allied Pickfords 3 stars:
1st Star – Mike LaRose – Red – This is not a sentimental pick. Mike played on Red’s 1st line and played well. He had a ton of chances and was stoned each time. He plugged away and when it mattered most he bagged two big goals to tie things up. Travel well Mike. Your jersey number will be kept in hopes that you come back to Japan.
2nd Star – Joji Hiratsuka – White – Informed by McCain that he had been thrown under the bus and would play defense, the big man simply nodded and went to it. No whining about how he hadn’t played defense since 3rd grade. No excuses. He played and played well.
3rd Star – Naoto Hamashima – Red – Naoto had 5 goals and White had no answers for him whatsoever.
Tokyo Canadians, along with Tokyo Egoists. played in Hong Kong tournament on May.
TCHC beat two Hong Kong teams (Hong Kong Tigers in SO, and Hong Kong Silverhorn), and lost to EIE Selects (Team from Swiss) in the Final.
More details could be found here
TCHC Stands with Japan
Sometimes there are events so big, so Earth shattering, that our minds spin and our souls sink under the realization that we are not in control of our own mortality. We sit paralyzed while it happens. We try and make sense of it after the fact. We wish, against our rational being, that it never happened. We mourn the loss of our sense of comfort and sense of community that we had before it. We feel fear, then anger, then acceptance that it did happen and then we start to build back up in anticipation of the day when we will believe that it will all be better. March 11th at 2:46 pm. This date and time will stay in our minds forever. We will not soon forget the fear we felt. We will not forget the joy we felt in embracing our loved ones when reunited. We will never forget the strange yet utter sadness we felt as we learned that we were the lucky ones. We will remember the grace and fortitude that the Japanese people demonstrated when all around them was chaos, devastation and fear of the unknown. It is no sin to be glad you are alive but it would be monstrous if you did not lend your fellow man a hand in this time.
TCHC feels this pain acutely. There are Japanese nationals on the team. There are Canadians, Americans and Europeans on the team who have chosen to make this their permanent home. There are ex-pats on the team who, while transitory, have bonded with their Japanese brothers in hockey and who feel in a visceral way that they are somehow connected to this great land and its remarkable people.
The Tokyo Canadians took up a collection and there was not a man on the roster who did not put his hand in his pocket to chip in and try to help. Scott Collins, a rugged winger, took things a few steps further. He and sometime TCHC guest Timo Budow decided they had to do more. They began renting trucks and driving supplies into the stricken area at great expense of time and money and at great personal risk. Their selfless acts of bravery will stand them in good stead with us forever. Inspired by the example, the boys rented a 2 ton truck and pledged to fill it. Scott McCaskie, from Allied Pickfords, spearheaded a drive to get supplies and by the end of the week he had a board room full of supplies ready to be shipped to Ishinomaki. Joji Hiratsuka, Dave Lotocki and Brent McCain spent Saturday morning trying to get their hands on as many supplies as possible and the direction received was that there was a premium on items for personal hygiene such as diapers, wipes, hand disinfectant, toothbrushes and tampons. There is also a strong need for clean, dry underwear and socks. Satoshi Kobayashi and Naoto Hamashima were knee deep in crowds at Costco in Kawasaki and reported that it was 5 times as busy as the usual Saturday. Patience and persistence would be required to get what was needed. Around 1 pm, the team started to gather at the loading site at Allied Pickfords Roppongi headquarters. A donation of 12,000 bottles of disinfectant arrived on 4 pallets and was unloaded by McCain, McCaskie and Lotocki who looked more than a little concerned that this was only about 1/3 of what we needed to load up. Then, in came the cavalry. Koby and Hama rolled up followed by Mike Rublack and Kevin Holt. Scotty Collins and Timo showed up with a flat bed and Scotty’s buddy Christian who, at about 6’4’’, was a welcome sight to help with the heavy boxes. By about 5 pm, the trucks were loaded up and ready to head north. McCaskie had his car loaded and headed out. Koby had a car. Joji, Rubes and Kevin the Kid were in the truck. Rubes had a back pack that would have made Sir Edmund Hilary proud having heard that the weather was likely to be cold. The gang was heading up to the stricken area where Guy Roberge was already doing some work. McCain and Lotocki went to pick up Rob Smaal, who had been working all day and headed home for a BBQ and to await news about the trip.
Below is an account from Joji about the sequence of events:
“The drive up was painless. We get to Koby`s place around midnight and crash after some post road pops.
6AM and we`re up. Koby`s mom feeds us breakfast and we’re on the road.
7AM - 10AM Locals point us to Ishinomaki Koyou Elementary School. We get there loaded up with everything we could think of. What do they need? Womens underwear and adult diapers. What don’t we have? Yeah, womens underwear and adult diapers. We had some boxes labeled as such but I guess the kanji for these items is the same as for a cup of ramen. In any case we give them what we have and they need. Unfortunately they didn’t need any of our 12,000 bottles of hand disinfectant. Undaunted, we follow their instructions and check in at Ishinomaki Senshuu University. They direct us to Onnagawa.
10AM - 11AM Onnnagawa. Hard hit by the tsunami. Like a war zone. In fact, it looked like one with SDF chopper squadrons airlifting in and out. We talk to the guys in charge. Turns out they are very well supplied. Mountains of food, water, diapers etc. They also had a platoon of SDF troopers ready to help us unload. We have toothbrushes, they need so that’s cool. To our dismay, they have 20,000 cans of hand disinfectant. So basically 30 SDF troopers help unload 5 boxes of toothbrushes. We try down the road but no go. We still have 75% of our cargo in a rented truck that has to be back in Tokyo at 8PM. Things aren’t looking good. Our alternatives are to try one of the larger distribution centers and dump our stuff or take it back to Tokyo and store it.
11AM: Koby to the rescue. He finds some info on the internet. Shichigahama, near Sendai, hit hard by the Tsunami. They need stuff.
HIGH NOON: We go to Shichigahama and it turns out they are out of clean water to wash and they need disinfectant. They also need cups of noodles and we have. They need canned food and we have that too. Perfect. They take our whole cargo, aside from a few packs of diapers. A squad of smiling kids, the mayor and a few volunteers helping, we unload the truck. Done by 1PM. Time to head home.
On the road back, we drive through some of the hardest hit areas of Sendai. It’s sobering. Our elation at getting our goods delivered is dampened by the carnage. It’s bad like Onnagawa and like Shichigahama. These are not pictures on the TV. We’re driving through these areas. People’s lives are gone in 15 minutes under a rush of water. It’s depressing and heavy but the people are there cleaning up and trying to piece things together. Some are smiling. Life goes on. Maybe we helped a bit. I hope.
Journey back is painless, we’re back in Tokyo by 7PM.”
There is a tendency at times like this to say that communities have been changed and that they will never be the same again. It is true that things have changed. Our perspectives have changed and we, as people, have changed for having gone through this but it is also true that things will get better. Man’s ability to destroy is surpassed only by his ability to rebuild. The bonds that we shared with our teammates before are still there and, through experiences like this, will be strengthened. The bond we all share with Japan is not broken. In fact, we cherish it more than ever because we saw for a few terrible minutes on March 11th that it could be taken away in an instant and we have no say in the matter. TCHC stands with Japan. We stand in awe of its strength of character in times of trouble. We stand in appreciation of the bond we share with it. We stand ready to help it rebuild by donating our time and resources. We stand together in the knowledge that things will get better and that we will all be together soon and that there are indeed better days ahead.
Tokyo Canadians Hockey Club members express deep condolences to those suffering from the earthquake and tsunami which hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.
TCHC Semi-Annual Party, which was originally scheduled on March 25th, is scheduled on April 22nd (Friday).
All the money raised will be donated.
More details can be found here