SPARX Firing on All Cylinders


Date of Game: February 24, 2024


by Joe McGrath, Sr. Correspondent

It was a clear and sunny Saturday on the long weekend, but things turned dark and cold for the Tokyo Canadians once the sun went down. A few of the regular skaters were out with injuries so the TCHC called up Satoshi Gotoh from the Shizuoka League, Gritty Jr from the Philly Phantoms and Mickaël Bureau from the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH).

The call-ups did an admiral job on the ice but the veteran forward group of the TCHC looked like they just finished a 7-game-in-13-day Western road trip and this was their first game back in their Eastern time zone.

The SPARX, wearing their road Whites, got the goal scoring started by “Kuro Socks” who ignited his team early in the first period. Ryan Kobayashi and SPARX’s ringer, Ryota, on a rehab stint from the S-League, got the Engine Starters off to a quick 3-0 lead.

The Canadians, wearing their home Red jerseys, found their legs (for a while) and clawed back into 3-3 tie at the end of the first stanza with a nice goal from Shu Hayakawa, assisted by Gritty and Gritty Jr, as well as two great solo efforts by D-man Stephen Faulkner and The Ninja, Yamashita san.

In the second frame the TCHC kept things close by responding to two goals from the SPARX’s Chris Ludgate and Miyashita, with markers from Bureau (La Cara, Hans) and Handsome Hans (Yamashita, Faulkner). However, Ryota (Kobayashi) struck again just before the period ended, to put the SPARX ahead 6-5.

Starting the third period Miyashita bulged the twine again, but Bureau quickly replied for the TCHC. All was for naught as the SPARX tallied three goals in succession, two more by Ryota and the 10th by D-man Nanamori.

Hayakawa scored the Canadians’ last goal on a beautiful feed from Gritty Jr just prior to the final buzzer, ending the game at 10-7 SPARX.

Ryota’s rehabilitation looks to be over and he’ll be returning to the S-League next week, much to the delight of TCHC goalie Takeshi Tatsumoto. Tatsu’s effort to confuse the SPARX, going soccer keeper-style by wearing a vintage, bright yellow TCHC Nagano Cup jersey, did not have the desired effect.

Ryota was the clear MVP for the SPARX. For the Tokyo Canadians, the great end-to-end goal, plus a helper, put Stephen Faulkner on the podium as the TCHC MVP for the game.

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Stephen Faulkner with a great end-to-end rush for his goal, plus a helper, makes him the TCHC MVP.