Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed didn’t exchange as many head shots in their combined “Rocky” movies as did the teams of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Free State of Maryland did last night in the second Dave Fay Memorial Hockey Game. When the smoke cleared, the Commonwealth survived the Free State, in a shootout (!) – 12-11 – in a game reminiscent of those offensive donnybrooks of the 1980’s (goaltenders…you’re on your own).
But the real winners were the fans treated to some summer hockey and the fight against cancer, for which the game was played and the accompanying silent auction was held. We don’t know how much was raised at the end of the evening, but based on what the bids were on some of the memorabilia (among them, a signed Nicklas Backstrom jersey, a signed Caps team jersey, and a signed 2008 Western Conference all star jersey), it looked to be a successful night in that regard.
As for the game, Virginia scored on its first shot seconds into the contest, but Maryland roared back with three unanswered goals. Knocked to the canvas, the Virginians threw five straight haymakers – the last with less than two seconds in the opening period – to take a 6-3 lead.
Maryland opened the second in a frenzy, scoring a five-spot of their own to take an 8-6 lead. From there, it was a back and forth affair. Virginia and Maryland each scored a goal in the final two minutes of regulation to knot the score at 11.
The shootout – a five rounder, as opposed to the NHL’s three-round format – was won by Virginia, 2-1, to give the Commonwealth the privilege of wearing Lord Brown’s Boot for the next year.
As for the three stars of the game, they would have to go to Rob Keaton, Ben Wilson, and Gavin Toner – the three gentlemen who founded “Put Cancer on Ice.” If there was a “first star,” though, it would have to be Gavin “Sidney” Toner, who was credited with a number of assists when he, from accounts, wasn’t on the ice. There is a Penguin contract waiting for you, sir.
When it was all said and done, it was handshakes and head-rubs all around, and a portrait of both teams with the “Boot,”…a cool evening, indeed, on a sultry summer night.