THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED
May 16 1999
The first semifinal of the CASC World Cup of Ball Hockey Tournament,
played at 19h00 Wednesday, May 12th, will go down as the best game
ever played, at least according to those who were lucky enough to
have seen the match, as well as those who played in it. Continental
Europe, captained by Peter Knapp and the British Isles (a.k.a. "The
British Bluedogs"), captained by Mike Callaghan, did their best to
accommodate the spectators with a freewheeling affair that included
little defense, pretty playmaking and lots and lots of goals.
Consider this fact: The first semifinal saw 16 goals scored. The
next semifinal and final combined saw 17 goals.
As mentioned, this was not a defensive struggle. The
British Isles took 2-0, 3-1,4-2 leads, holding a 4-3 lead at the
half. Keith Myers had a goal and 2 assists, while Sean Marcellin
had a pair of goals for the Isles in the half, while Steve Bleau
had a goal and an assist to lead the Continental Europeans.
Then the Europeans scored twice in a two minute span to take
a 5-4 lead, the 2nd goal being a long screen shot from behind centre
that eluded Isles goalie Brian Crompton. Not to be outdone,
Mike Murphy scored back to back goals on the same shift to turn
the tide back in favor of the Isles, with Keith Myers making a
perfect pass across the crease to give the Isles the lead.
Trailing 6-5, the Isles refused to sit on their lead,
trying hard to score an insurance goal that might ice the game
against a tenacious opponent who many felt had little chance
to win. However, Gary Cohen converted a Peter Knapp pass to tie
the game. It was Cohen's hat trick goal, and it could not have
come at a more convenient time.
Then, within a minute, the Isles had retaken a two goal
lead. First, Kim Nethersole blasted a howitzer past European goalie
Leonard Luedee after a defensive giveaway, then Sean Marcellin took
a Nethersole pass and backhanded a shot past Luedee, completing his
hat trick. Peter Knapp replied with an unassisted goal a minute
later, setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion.
Something started to happen in the gymnasium at this point.
The gymnasium, which is multi-purpose, housed a basketball practice
on the adjacent curtain. Aside from the players on the Canadiens
Francais/Ameriques and Asia/Greco-Roman team, who were preparing for
their game which was scheduled next, and from family members and
friends, the basketball players stopped dribbling and sidled over
to watch the events unfolding on the hockey side of the fence.
What they saw next would not disappoint them. The Europe
an team, trailing by 1 with just under 10 minutes left mounted a
furious rally, pouring shots on Brian Crompton in an attempt for
the equalizer. The Isles also put on an offensive, looking for a
goal that would put the game away, or at the very least, dampen the
Finally with just under a minute left and Luedee out for the
extra attacker, the European's had one last chance to force overtime.
Cohen and Knapp, the top pointgetters on the European team, were
cycling with the ball in the Isles zone. Keith Myers hacked at the
ball, tapped it into the corner, but could not clear the zone.
Knapp regained possession, gave it to Cohen, who in turned threw
it in front of the net, where Peter Lorincz converted the pass for
the biggest goal of his life, to say the least.
For the first time in CASC history, overtime would be used
to decide a game. By now, the basketball practice was over, with
the players having stopped playing in order to watch what everyone
was oohing and aahing over. It would not be an exxageration to say
that very little was being said in the spectators gallery.
The overtime period was a chaotic affair. Lots of shots,
and glorious scoring opportunities being missed on both sides.
Victor Pajor of the European team saw his wrist shot miss the post
by inches. Steve Bleau of the Europeans saw his deflection from in
front of the net tapped out of harms way by the Isles Darren Roberts
at the last possible moment. Peter Knapp missed a mini breakaway
when he was stopped by Crompton cold, with no rebound.
Peter Lorincz saw his shot blocked by a sliding Mike Callaghan.
Finally a sliding Gary Cohen backhanded a rebound in front of the
net off the post.
The Isles also had many opportunities, mainly Sean
Marcellin. Sean was stopped by goalie Luedee on three separate
opportunities, all on the same shift. Nethersole hit a goal post,
Myers could not convert a 2 on 1 with Mike Murphy and Billy Ponting
was unable to get a stick on a loose rebound off a Darren Roberts
blast in front of the Euopean net.
Ten minutes of overtime solved nothing. Except that hardly
a minute went by, (and I mean minute in the literal sense) This
meant one thing. Shootout. Sudden Death. Until one team scores and
the other doesn't. After a three minute break, in which captains
Knapp and Callaghan gave their shooting lineup to the scorekeeper,
the shootout began.
Peter Knapp was given choice of having his team shoot first
or last. He chose to go first, and named himself first shooter on
his team. Knapp did not disappoint, scoring high on the glove side
on a falling Crompton.
"If I miss this, is the game over?"
Eric Boghen, referee
This conversation, or exchange if you will, could be
overheard as Sean Marcellin was preparing for his shootout
opportunity. Miss and the game is over. Score and the British
Isles have another life.
In what had to be the slowest breakaway in history, a cat
and mouse game began with goalie Luedee and the leading pointgetter
in CASC. Slowly but surely, Marcellin came in, went to his backhand,
waited for Luedee to commit and then shifted to his forehand.
Over the blocker, inside post. Game is tied again.
And so the excitement began. All activity in the other
curtains of the gym stopped. Conversations in the spectators
gallery were muted. Palms were sweaty. Hearts started pumping.
And this from people who were not playing.
Fourteen breakaways later, FOURTEEN, no other goal was
scored. The goalies, Crompton and Luedee stood their ground.
Finally, Paul Manson of the Europeans failed to finish
his deke attempt to the glove side. This put the onus on Billy
Ponting. If Ponting missed, an almost unheard of concept in
penalty shootouts would occur. The idea of repitition. Ponting
was the last player from either team who had not participated in
the shootout. After Ponting, if necessary, the players who started
the shootout, Knapp and Marcellin, would restart.
It would not prove to be necessary. Ponting moving quickly, roofed
a top corner snapshot to end the marathon. The British Isles won
8-8 (2-1 in a shootout) The shot totals were 60-42 in favor of
the British Isles.
The word classic is thrown around very often, many times
undeservedly. This was not one of them. The players on both teams
merited respect for their effort, their tenacity and determination
and skill, and mostly, their sportsmanship.