The WatchNET

– Special Edition –

River Cree 2012

 

 

 

BACK: Dino Vlahadamis, Tom Jacknisky, Chris Girard, Dean Moravec, Tim Mulroney, Luke Van Weiren, Preston Kulmatycki, Marv Blue

MIDDLE: Travis Manchur, Tim Weis, Rory Shott, Darren Hockman, Cory Wilkinson

FRONT: Ball-sack receptacle

 

Glory Restored

Re-united Watchmen claim first title

16-18 March 2012

ENOCH – After much controversy, the annual Watchmen reunion which has traditionally taken place in Banff in 2009, 2010 and 2011, stayed local heading just kilometers west of Edmonton to the River Cree casino and twin rinks. Dawning their new golden jerseys, a combination of current roster, original cast members, Pink Steel rentals, and Travis “former Jets fan” Manchur, the Watchmen hit the ice sporting more captains than assistants. The last time the Watchmen purple graced the River Cree was 2007 when 3 members of this 2012 squad took home an improbable championship.

The squad faced off in their opening match against the Beehive Flooring Hawks who had flown in from Saskatchewan for the tournament. The Hawks were fired up, catching the Watchmen off guard, notching a 3 goal lead before the first five minutes had transpired. Despite a gritty effort, the Hawks were too much for the Watchmen to handle downing them 9-3 in the series opener, hooting and hollering after each goal even into the final minutes. The result drew the ire of some of the Watchmen’s veteran leadership, aimed squarely at the team’s current GM, player-coach and captain “Thanks for putting us in this division Nisky,” team founder Cory Wilkinson was overheard saying. “I flew all the way in from Vancouver for this s**t”.

Insult was heaped upon injury, as the screams and cheers of Hawks apparently philating one-another could be heard from two dressing rooms over for 15 minutes after the game ended. Jacknisky was unphased however, citing poor goaltending and a lack of team chemistry as the reason for the lop-sided loss. “We’ll be ok once we have time to gel. It was our first game playing with this bunch of guys, and some of the old balls have some rust to shake off.” While Jacknisky preferred not to discuss the goaltending problems publicly, he did call on Matt Benson to start game 2, putting veteran net-minder and one-time Watchmen GM as a healthy scratch for game 2.

The Watchmen would retire to the Jacknisky-recommended Beer Hunter tucked away in a classy strip mall on the west side Edmonton. Some post-game analysis around the well-lit table, the Watchmen were able to officially drown their sorrows without partaking in the local past-time of fist-fighting with girls.

In the round-robin format, the Watchmen needed to win their next two to advance to the finals. The Watchmen faced off against the Moonstars, a team that had won their opening game. 15 seconds into the game Chris Girard buried a setup from Rory Shott and Cory Wilkinson, and 8 minutes later Luke Van Weiren put the Watchmen up by two on a feed from Wilkinson, who was playing like he’d been possessed by the F-bomb of 2005. The Moonstars drew to within one before the period was out, but the Watchmen restored their 2-goal lead early in the second period with Shott notching a short-handed goal from Darren Hockman. The Watchmen continued their early-period offence when Marvin Blue scored 25 seconds into the final frame as Shott notched his 4th point of the game. The 4-1 score looked comfortable, in classic Watchmen-style, there is no lead too big to blow, and the Moonstars responded with back to back tallies cutting the lead to one. The teams would trade goals, but the Watchmen were able to hang on to their lead evening their record at 1-1.

On the other pad, the Vikings downed the Beehive Hawks, and so all four teams were knotted in the standings heading into the final game of the round robin, setting the stage for what become semi-final games. Weis was allowed to suit back up for the 5pm contest against the Vikings. Sparks flew early in the game with both squads killing off two power plays each before the halfway minute mark of the opening frame. It was the Watchmen who would draw first blood, with Marvin Blue bulging the twine from Moravec and Hockman. Blue would get in on the action again moments later getting the puck to Jacknisky who could stuff it in putting the Watchmen up by a pair. The Vikings closed the gap appearing to get back into the game, only to have the Girard respond 10 seconds later, and Tim Mulroney piled on 23 seconds later giving the Watchmen a 4-1 lead. The lead was secured by a flash of the leather from Weis trying to earn his way back onto the roster. The Moonstars looked to be poised to claw their way back into the game scoring early in the second and were awarded a powerplay shortly after. But once again the Watchmen immediately responded with Cory Wilkinson whipping out his signature breakaway move, putting a nail in the coffin with a short-handed tally. Jacknisky would seal the deal with back to back goals only 10 seconds apart to start the third period including a roof-daddy at the 3:22 mark. Girard would put the icing on the cake on a setup from Vlahadamis advancing the Watchmen to the tourney championship.

The Watchmen would face off against the Beehive Hawks in a rematch of the lop-sided opening game. The Hawks were the favorites having demolished their semi-finals opponents 17-3, and 18 seconds into the game they were once again squealing like stuck pigs after a seeing-eye puck bounced off 3 legs and through the Watchmen tender. Darren Hockman would respond 20 seconds later on a setup from Jacknisky and Manchur tying the game at one before the first minute was out. The Watchmen would take the lead when Girard sniped a bullet 2 minutes into the frame, but the seesaw would continue as the teams traded goals winding up at 3 a piece by the end of the period. Hockman opened the scoring for the Watchmen 19 seconds into the second, and after a Hawks’ short-handed breakaway was turned aside, Kulmatycki collected the puck and set up Hockman for his third of the game, completing a hat trick before the second period was even 3 minutes old. Van Weiren and Moravec would each add one giving the Watchmen a four goal lead with less than five minutes to play in the second period sparking an hissy-fit from Hawks’ captain, smashing his stick across the boards and screaming at his teammates on his way to, and whilst sitting on the bench. The Hawks would bring it back within reach tallying a late one before the final frame. But whatever hope the Hawks might have had was promptly snuffed out and kicked in the junk and Shott, Van Weiren, Girard, Moravec and Moravec again stuffed 5 home in the final frame sealing the deal for the purple and gold. The victory broke a 7-year drought for the original core who hadn’t won a trophy together since the summer of 2005. The way in which it was done felt like just desserts for the Hawks, who weren’t impressed with the Watchmen continuing to put the biscuit in the basket, but were politely reminded by Kulmatycki that the Watchmen were still 5 shy of Hawks’ stat-padding in the semis.

The three Watchmen captains hoisted the River Cree Cup, and the Watchmen men toasted farewell, before dispersing back from where they had come. With one in the record books the Watchmen will surely be back at it again in 2013… in Banff!

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Final Game Three Stars

1.         Darren Hockman

2.         Luke Van Weiren

3.         Dean Moravec

Watchmen – 12

Beehive Hawks – 4

Record 3-1

2012 River Cree Champions

 

More photos: click here