Bears take title, shirts
North York, Ont. (Bloom Newswires) -- In what is being described as the greatest game ever played, the T.O. Bears defeated rivals the Rampage Sunday Night, in overtime, winning the TrueNorth Hockey League's Foster's Division championship.
"We're the best of the worse -- I've never been so happy in my entire life," said versatile forward Richard Bloom, who played left wing last night instead of his normal right wing position. He was referring to the fact that the Foster's Division is the lowest-skill division play in the league.
Added captain Derek Watrich: "I knew we could do it. We had the momentum. Who cares if we didn't make the final tournament, we got the trophy baby." (The top team from each division after the regular season secures a place in an annual "super series" tournament held in Brampton, Ont.)
The Bears beat the Rampage 3-2, thanks to a shorthanded winning goal by defenceman David Wallace. Barry Cayen assisted on the historic score.
"I was skating up to the net with the puck and their team let me get closer and closer. So, I just decided to shoot. Next thing you know, the team is piling on top of me and I was preparing my 'I'm going to Disney World' speech," said Wallace, who scored 10 points during the regular season.
The Bears and Rampage were tied at 0-0 for most of the game, until the Rampage scored with only a second left in the first period. The Bears returned fire not long after with a goal by up-and-comer Dino Frosolone. About halfway through the third period, centreman Ian Giles scored the second goal, with assists by Bloom and Bill Rumanek.
The Bears then proceeded with a "dump and chase" strategy for the next 10 minutes of game time, holding onto there 2-1 until their was only 34 seconds remaining on the clock -- at which point the Rampage pulled their goalie out of the net, added a forward and tied up the game. That sent the game into overtime.
During that extra period, Giles was kicked out of the game after crosschecking an opponent and proceeding to rough another player. He was not allowed back on the ice.
"I was shaking my head," said defenceman David Parkinson. "I mean, he's the best player on the ice and the ref kicks him out of the game -- in overtime. I was furious. That made the win all the more sweet."
Reports have Parkinson bringing champagne into the dressing room for the post-game celebrations. However, nobody on the team could verify that report as the league has a strict no-alcohol-in-the-dressing-room policy.
With the win, the Bears got a championship trophy and each player took home a black long-sleeve t-shirt with "TrueNorth Hockey Champions" emblazoned on the front.
The win also secures the Bears' place in hockey history.
One hockey-industry expert, who asked to be identified, called the game "unbelievable" and said it's too bad the game wasn't broadcast. "It's just word of mouth now. The stuff legends are made of. I'm just glad I saw it. I can die now."
The Bears won't play a formal game until next season. However, thanks to their success, plans are in the works for a charity tour, autograph signing, and old-timers game sometime in the near future.
Front office staff are also said to be planning a father-and-son hockey banquet at the local community centre.
More information on the team can be found here: http://www.truenorthhockey.com/2004-09/toronto/team10291.html