For the second time in less than two months, a hockey team from Boston has been in contention for a championship cup. But what the Boston Bruins couldn't accomplish against the Edmonton Oilers, the lesser-known Boston Jaguars did yesterday against the Toronto Buccaneers.
So what if it wasn't the highly coveted Stanley Cup? To the seven teams gathered at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center this weekend, the North American Hockey League championship cup seemed just as important and the competition every bit as fierce as the professionals'. The Jaguars, representing the Eastern Division, handily defeated the Central Division's Buccaneers, 7-1.
After a scoreless first period, the top-seeded Jaguars dominated, finishing with a 37-13 advantage in shots on goal and putting consistent pressure on the Buccaneers.
"We've played well all year," said Jaguars team captain Bill Piscitelli. "Everyone has contributed to this win."
Indeed, everyone on the team seemed capable of scoring. Seven players were involved in the seven goals and five assists.
The Buccaneers have represented the Central Division the past two years, and, according to team captain Igor Kovalik, second is disappointing. "But," said Kovalik, "second out of 700 teams isn't really a bad finish overall."
With 12,000 players participating in the Hockey North America program in 25 cities in the United States and Canada, the league has become the nation's largest adult amateur hockey league. Founded here in 1980, this coed league has grown from only six teams to 700 representing beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Many of the teams have no coaches, only team captains and, although some teams have sponsors, the majority of the players are responsible for supplying their own uniforms and equipment which can cost as much as $300, not including the skates. Skates range from $80 to $500.
"The main difference between this league and the professionals," said Michael Shannon, the league's administrator, "is not necessarily in the rules, it's in the philosophy. Fighting is not tolerated in this league. A player is subject to a severe penalty for fighting which could include a one-year suspension from play or even expulsion . . . ."