The 2018 Chowder Cup has come and gone. Although the boys played their hearts out, they were unable to move on past the group stage. The motto/theme for the team this week was “Overcoming adversity.” The boys battled adversity countless time throughout this trip, well before the puck even dropped on the first game. So, for those who were unable to follow the live updates on Twitter or watch the live stream. Let’s recap and breakdown the trip for you.
JULY 11 - TRAVEL DAY: It was a beautiful day in Boston, Massachusetts. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and things were going perfectly. You might even say, things were going too perfectly, because they were. At approximately 4:00PM EST, Lightning Community Hockey Manager and LHSHL EDP Program Director, Tom Garavaglia, received an email from the team hotel alerting him that our rooms had been given away due to an internal error (He booked this trip in April and had over a dozen email transcripts confirming our reservation). Without hesitation he sent out an email of his own to notify all parents of the complications at the hotel, because he’s responsible like that. Keep in mind the boys had a game tomorrow and this was the last thing they needed
At 5:00PM, as the team landed and head to the hotel, Garavaglia was able to secure a conference room for the team to relax in, and secured dinner while this debacle was being dealt with. As 7:00PM turned in to 8:00PM, and 9:00PM was approaching, head coach Adam Hall laid down the law with this hotel staff and made it very clear to them that this is a big tournament for these boys, they are on a very strict schedule and bedtime is at 10:00PM SHARP. The staff then cleared out an additional conference room for the boy and provided us with enough cots for the boys to lay down and(or) get some rest for tomorrows big game until we could get them into their respective rooms. I wish I could tell you that we got into our rooms at a decent hour but that would be simply untrue. It wasn’t until 3:00AM that all players and coaching staff got into their rooms.
JULY 12 - GAME 1 vs Roc City: After a wild day/night before, the boys had to be up early for team breakfast. As you may imagine, everyone was tired but as mentioned in the opening, the theme for this trip was overcoming adversity.
The boys got the rink with ample time to warm-up and get their minds right for the game. Before the game, Head Coach Adam Hall spoke to the team and told them a tale from his days playing that was a similar story of what the boys had dealt with the night before.
When the game started the boys came out of the locker room with intensity, and things were looking good. Unfortunately, the boys in blue would surrender the games first penalty only a few minutes in to the game, which led to the first goal of the game for the bad guys. Then another goal. And unfortunately, one more goal before the first period would come to an end. They would head to the locker room down 3-0 at the end of the first, and honestly who could blame them for their sluggish and sloppy play? They went to bed at three in the morning and had to be up a few hours later on top of a full day of travel. They had every reason to pack it in and focus on the next game. They did the exact opposite. A different, more energized team came out of that locker room. They killed a powerplay to begin the second and final period then immediately scored once they became even strength. BOOM 3-1 off a little dipsy-doodle by ANDREW MIRANDA. The boys were alive. A penalty led to another Roc City goal. WHATEVER 4-1. The boys shook that goal off like it was nothing and scored their second. HOW BOUT THAT 4-2 thanks to JOSEY DAVIS. Moments later, another one. CHA-CHING 4-3 off the hands of ERIC BOWLES. A sloppy turnover led to the fifth Roc City Goal. WHATEVER 5-3. It didn’t matter to these boys, they had ice in their veins. They knew they were not about to lose this game. A puck was blasted from the blue line only to be redirected and slammed home. WE CAN’T STOP, AND WE WONT STOP 5-4 ERIC BOWLES AGAIN. Coach Hall called a timeout to work on some late game scenarios and made the decision to pull the goalie once we had possession.
Folks, I genuinely hope you are sitting down for this. Team Tampa won the draw, the goalie skated to the bench, the clock is ticking, and with 15.9 left in the game a shot was fired on net and there is only one question to ask. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? DYLAN SOUTHERN! 5-5! Tampa ties it in the dying last seconds of the game after being down 3 goals. The team went out for a night of fun at the illustrious: Dave & Busters. Tom sure does spoil us.
JULY 13 - Game 2 vs Boston Knights: After a good night’s rest the boys had an action-packed day. The team traveled to Chesnut Hill, MA to visit as well as get a tour of the prestigious, Boston College. Upon arrival, the boys were greeted by BC Director of Hockey Operations, John Hegarty, who gave us full access to the Boston College facilities and the Eagles’ locker room. Hegarty was also able to provide the boys with an idea of what is expected of their student athletes and what it takes to become successful, inclusive of the great emphasis BC puts on graduating all of their players. Many of the alum, currently in the NHL, inclusive of none other than Johnny Gaudreau, or as he is better known, Johnny Hockey. While Johnny has been in the NHL for a few years now, he still makes his way back to the Boston College campus in the off season to take a class here and there as he works towards the completion of his degree
If you thought one college visit was a lot, just wait folks because we had another surprise in store for these lucky boys. Next on the itinerary we traveled to Medford, MA to get a tour of the one and only Tufts University. This visit was extra special because it was the ole’ stomping grounds of our Assistant, Coach Mark Rosengard. We met with Tufts Men's Hockey Head Coach, Pat Norton. He gave us an exclusive tour of the Tufts athletic facility and gave the boys an idea of what he is looking for when it comes to his players and the recruiting process. Again, stressing the importance of academics, and the rigorous academic standards it takes to compete at the college level. Norton explained the average ACT score of any Tufts University student is 33 (a perfect score is 36). Norton also went on to explain that the lowest score among his players is 26. Demonstrating to Team Tampa Bay that not only must you be a good hockey player, but you must also be a good student, to compete at the next level.
8:30PM - PUCK DROP: Overall, Tampa played a dominant first period. They played hard, they played fast, and they played physical. Team Tampa had countless opportunities to get on the board, but the puck never found the back of the net.
We wish we had some good news for you for the second and final period of the game but that would simply be untrue. Boston found the back of the net five more times. On the bright side, the Tampa offensive did manage to get one on the board with a well-executed defensive clear that led to the team’s only goal by JOSIE DAVIS assisted by KYLE REPAR. The game ended 6-1 which isn’t great, but the good news is that Tampa has an opportunity to redeem themselves the next day.
JULY 14 - Game 3 vs. Rice Prep - After a disappointing game the night before, the team was disgusted with their performance and knew they were better than they had played. The game truly began in the dressing room well before the boys even took to the ice. Players finally began to emerge as leaders and united the group. It was clear they despised the feeling of last night’s loss. Spoiler Alert: It worked.
The boys played phenomenally from the drop of the puck to the final horn. We won nearly every faceoff. The forwards were moving the puck with ease up the ice, creating chances left and right. Our defensemen were checking well and blocking shots like Shaq in his prime. The first goal of the game wasn’t scored until there was about five minutes left in the first and it was Team Tampa’s first lead of the tournament. Honestly folks, once the boys got their taste of a lead, they were like a school sharks versus a wounded tuna. It was an absolute feeding frenzy AND THEY WANTED MORE. The boys managed to smash in a second goal before the intermission giving themselves and their goalie a 2-0 lead heading into the second and final period. At the break, the locker room was lit and the coaching staff knew this was the team they have been waiting to see all along.
As the second period started the boys came out strong and played hard until they were whistled for a penalty, and for some strange reason they were whistled again thirty seconds later. They were down two men for nearly two minutes. Most teams would have accepted the fact they were down to three skaters and given up a goal. But you know what, not this team folks, for your safety I hope you are sitting down for this, they killed that 5 on 3 like the warriors they are. Shortly after that miraculous penalty kill, the boys scored three goals so fast that if you blinked you would have missed them, just like the Rice Prep goalie. We could not stop scoring. If you look up the definition of scoring goals, it will redirect you to our @TBLHSHL twitter account, so you can watch the offensive performance we had that day. Tampa managed to add their sixth and final goal the game with around five minutes left. But not the hardest task of all was in front of them which was to preserve the shutout that both of the team’s goalies had contributed to do and as the clock struck triple zero’s that is exactly what they did.
It was a great team win all around, everyone contributed. The locker room was buzzing, and the team’s spirits were at an all-time high.
JULY 15: The final day of the trip. With Team Tampa Bay eliminated from the playoff round, they hopped on the train headed downtown to check out some of the many historical sites the Boston area has to offer. First stop, Charlestown, MA and the 203-foot USS Constitution that was built in 1794. The boys got to see the Boston Harbor with all its glory. If the excitement wasn’t flowing enough, right up the street was the Bunker Hill monument. As we all know, the elevation of the bunker hill is 220 ft so it’s safe to say the team’s level of happiness was at an all-time high if you catch my drift. The day was capped off with a glorious Italian dinner in Boston’s North End.
A huge shout out and thank you to Head coach Adam Hall and Assistant Coach Mark Rosengard for accompanying the boys on the trip, doing a marvelous coaching job, and for being role models for these boys on this adventure. Not to mention it goes without saying how appreciative everyone on the trip was of Tom Garavaglia’s contribution to this trip. He spent months and countless hours orchestrating the team’s plans for the chowder cup which he executed flawlessly and when the hotel tried to rain on our parade, Tom was our umbrella.