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Moose Relinquish Cup to Dominant Hosers

Climate change may ruin best laid plans with floods, fires, and hurricanes. But it couldn’t stop the 10th Annual Capital Ward Cup from going ahead January 28, 2017 at Windsor Park.

Despite above zero temperatures that had closed the canal and many outdoor rinks across Ottawa, the four teams that compete each year for the Cup were undeterred, scraping off the ice with shovels and intent to do battle.

“Welcome to the 10th Annual Capital Ward Cup,” Capital Ward Cup Councillor David Chernushenko happily announced at centre ice to the two dozen players and throngs of cheering spectators (okay, there was a couple walking their dog across the way). “We are going ahead.” The Cup is an annual four-on-four shinny tournament with four teams representing different areas of Capital Ward.

It must have been the Old Ottawa South Moose’s resolute millennial factor that refused to be denied by warm weather. After years of stacking the team with middle age veterans still recovering from the previous night’s beer league hockey, the Moose opted mostly for a teenage team of talented Glebe Collegiate students.

Veteran Moose stars Nick Neuheimer, Bruce Alexander, and Shawn Veinot came out to lead on the youth. They were quickly, and happily, relegated to the back of the rotation as the kids shined. Between games, the vets took refuge in the warm up hut while the teens practiced on the extra pad of ice, checked their social media, and removed their toques and mitts because of the warmth. “They barely broke a sweat,” mused a senior Moose player in awe.

In the tourney’s first game, the Moose faced their arch-rivals, the Old Ottawa East Hosers. It was a well-fought match that ended with the Hosers on top 4-3. Two hours later, the Moose faced the Hosers again in the final, and jumped into a quick 3-0 lead. But, despite the much-missed absence of star veteran Andrew Matsukubo, the Hosers would not go lightly into the snowflakes of a winter’s afternoon. They roared back with 7 unanswered goals and finished it off with a final score of 8-4, claiming a league-leading fifth title in 10 years.

The Moose have won four times, and Glebe once. The Moose teens had no time for such trivia, however. “That’s it?” one asked after the final, while the veterans crawled off the ice in exhaustion. “Not much of a tournament,” he concluded, eyeing his texts for a better offer. 

But the unsung heroes of the tourney was the surging, upstart Glebe Goal-Getters, who brought out a wickedly talented squad of 20-something newcomers. The Goal-Getters ran the table in the round-robin, even defeating the Hosers equally fierce 20-somethings. But the Goal-Getters were disqualified from the final for lack of females. Every team must have two girls on the ice at all times, a hard and fast rule the tourney holds dear.

The teams are rounded out by the Heron Park Hackers, who (perhaps due to change their name to Maple Leafs) have valiantly spent a decade struggling against strong opponents. “You know how many games we have won since this tournament started?” posed a veteran Hacker. “One.” But they sure win the sportsmanship award. “Anyway,” another said, “we have the best post-game parties.”

This year’s Cup was not without celebrity status. Both Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi attended the event, as did former Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar. The mayor even stepped up for conversation and a selfie with the Moose millennials. CTV News sent reporter Annie Oliver Bergeron, herself raised in the Ward, and a cameraman to cover the tourney. “I feel my lungs are being punished playing with these teenagers, but here I am,” a Hosers’ female player confessed gallantly for a story that ran that evening on CTV.

The Cup may be taking on a higher profile given uncertain status of comparable hockey events. The NHL still hasn’t confirmed whether an outdoor game will be played in Ottawa to celebrate the league’s 100th anniversary, or whether NHL players will participate in the 2018 Olympics. But shinny – a proud tradition pre-dating Canada’s 150 years as a country – won’t be denied, yet. Let’s hope climate change fails in its angry quest to eradicate this cherished pastime. 

Next year, Councillor Chernushenko is considering broadening the annual winter gathering (founded by former Councillor Clive Doucet) to include other events and broader participation. “How about broomball?”, one player suggested in the hut. “So we don’t have to worry about the ice.” Others suggested beavertail-making classes, or soccer in the snow. But all agreed ten years of the Capital Ward Cup event could be summed up in a single breath: “There has to be a way to get some decent coffee out here.”

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