proclamation by New York’s Mayor Bloomberg
September 1-3, 2007 - New York, USA
By Jawwad Qamar
New York, Sept 3: On a weather perfect Labor Day, that was also proclaimed “Big Apple Hockey Festival Day” in the city by New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the 2001 & 2003 champions Washington Shredders and defending champion Rye took the honors again with cash prize and the Mayor’s trophy.
The veteran Shredders defeated Big Apple HC on sudden death penalty strokes when the women’s final ended leveled at 1-1 in regulation. After a lackluster scoreless first half, the paced picked up as finals MVP Emily Townsend stole the ball at the right, just outside the circle, pulling Big Apple’s goalkeeper Jozann Jackson out and slotting the ball far left into an empty net for a 1-0 lead, five minute into the second half. However, Big Apple responded right back and during a penalty corner Lauren Byrne flicked the ball in, after Leslie King’s initial attempt hit the right post, to tie the score. During sudden death penalty strokes, Big Apple’s first attempt was saved by Lauren Hill while Townsend went high to the upper left corner for the title.
Emily Townsend was also the Shredders hero earlier in the semifinals scoring the lone goal over the University of Guelph from Canada. The other semifinal saw Big Apple HC upset the favorites Malvern USA who were going for a threepeat, 2-1, on sudden death penalty strokes after 1-1 tie in regulation. This defeat was a big shocker for the defending champions who dominated the preliminary round winning all six matches and scoring 23 goals.
The men’s final between Rye and 2005 champions Toronto Lions was a rematch of the early morning pool match easily won by the Lions 5-1. But this time Rye shocked the Lions 1-0 for their second straight championship. Toronto have no one but themselves to blame for this loss, playing disciplined hockey for a change, the Canadians however let 16 penalty corners slip away while Rye made most of their only two chances. Forward Sukhi Sandhu scored a beautiful goal through the middle on his team’s second shot on goal a minute before the half. Rye’s international cast of walking wounded was well lead by the finals deserving MVP Patrick Stutz in the middle who also setup Sandhu’s goal and that ageless wonder Peter Jones in defense.
Rye was really fortunate to be playing for the championship – after losing their last two pool matches to Toronto Lions and HC Dinamo in the morning session, Rye finished 3rd in the men’s pool. But the Hockey Gods were smiling at Rye when the Russians did not stay around for the finals scheduled for 3 pm as they had a 5 pm return flight to catch for Moscow. With this premature departure by HC Dinamo, the tournament official opted to play the final between 2nd and 3rd place teams.
It’s a shame that despite dominating pool play with excellent skills and finishing on top with 18 points, the team from Elektrostal, Russia went home empty handed. Dinamo coach Igor Shishkov was well aware of the schedule when he entered his team in the tournament but had hoped that the organizers would move the men’s final to an earlier time to accommodate his team if they qualify for the final – an unrealistic wish – not realizing what a nightmare it would create in terms of scheduling and logistics, not to mention that if you do that once other teams would expect the same in the future. Unfortunately, but wisely Nigel Traverso, the Tournament Director had to say nyet to coach Shishkov.
The 9th edition of the Big Apple Hockey Festival saw seven men and eight women teams from Barbados, Canada, England, Russia and the USA compete for the Mayor’s Cup and the prize money – $3,500 for men and $4,000 for women – during the three days Labor Day weekend.