Big Winners at Big Apple Hockey Festival
September 2008 - New York, USA
By Jawwad Qamar
New York, Sept 1: Playing in Orange and Blue and showing finesse like the Dutch, the Toronto Lions easily overwhelmed the Tri-State Islanders 7-0 for their second Big Apple Hockey Festival men’s title while Junior FC, an Under-18 girls team from Barcelona, in their first tournament appearance here, took the ladies title and the $5,000 prize in a closely fought 1-0 win over the University of Guelph from Canada.
The 2005 champions Toronto Lions with their talented forwards put on a show of speed and skills that the Tri-State Islanders had no answer for. Rajvinder Gill started the onslaught from the left in the 10th minute mark with three Lions on attack at right. Tournament MVP Jagdish Gill added a goal 10 minutes later on his team’s third penalty corner and Inderjeet Singh Bath pulled the Islanders keeper Garfield Stewart out at right, drilling to the far corner for the first of his two goals and a 3-0 score as the first half ended. Inderjeet Singh struck for his second goal at the start of the second half from the far right with a narrow angle shot that brought the fans to their feet and two minutes later set up Micha Teixeira for his reverse stick tally for a 5-0 lead. Gurjot Singh followed with a goal in the 37th minute mark and Rajvinder Gill closed out the scoring in the final minute for a very easy yet entertaining 7-0 victory. Margin here could have been higher had Toronto converted on any of the other seven penalty corner chances they gained.
Canadian international Shanker Premakanthan in goal for the Lions was not really tested much in the final and allowed only two goals in the entire tournament, with one of them coming on a questionable call. Earlier in the semifinals, Toronto defeated the Festival All Stars 3-0 on the strength of two goals from Tarsem Singh Raj and Tri-State Islanders edged out Malvern FHC from Trinidad & Tobago 3-2 in sudden-death penalty strokes after a 2-2 draw in regulation.
In the ladies final, the lone goal was scored by Christina Guinea for Junior FC in the 19th minute on a scramble off a penalty corner rebound. Both teams had one penalty corner in each half with slight edge in play going to the young Spaniards who were extremely delighted on ending their USA tour on a winning note, not to mention the $5,000 prize money that went with it. There was some consolation for Guelph Gryphons as Jess Walkey was declared the tournament MVP for her performance over the three day Labor Day weekend.
In the semifinals, Junior FC defeated Big Apple HC 1-0 in sudden-death penalty strokes after a goalless draw in regulation. However, the University of Guelph had a much easier time against their country women from Mississauga with a 4-0 win thanks to three goals from Brienne Stairs.
The awards ceremony followed with a very special presentation to honor the memory of Aldwin Ferguson who lost his battle with prostate cancer in late July. A national team player for Trinidad & Tobago in both field hockey and soccer, Ferguson served as one of the Assistant Technical Directors at the tournament and always brought a sense of calmness to the chaos normally associated with a large event. He was very much missed by the tournament organizers and officials. A plaque with Aldwin’s picture from last year’s festival and a tournament shirt signed by the participants and officials was presented to Aldwin’s son Andre by Jeff Grosvenor on behalf of all.
The 10th anniversary of the Big Apple Hockey Festival saw six men and eleven women teams from Barbados, Canada, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and the USA compete for the Mayor’s Cup and the prize money – $3,000 for men and $5,000 for women – during the three days of Labor Day weekend at the tournament’s new home, the Aviator Sports and Recreation Complex in Brooklyn.
Kudos once again to tournament organizers and officials led by Nigel Traverso, the 1984 USA Olympian and tournament co-founder, his Directors Richard Francois and Michael Serrette, Technical Directors Mike Hawkins and Jeff Grosvenor, and Umpires Manager Steve Horgan for an outstanding effort. Special recognition must also go to Dore Bowers, the trainer (physio) for doing a truly professional and caring job with the athletes as well as the spectators.