Hal High gets straight ‘A’s’ in St. Pete’s Classic

Hockey Hawks go 5-1 to capture gold in Peterborough’s prestigious tourney

By Terrance Gavan
Ain’t no I in team.
But lots of I’s in statistics.
Teams flourish when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When eyes and ‘I’s’ remain focused on the job at hand.
When squad supersedes personal agenda.
And that rambling Spinoza-spin brings us to an “I-less” Red Hawk hockey squad – gents’ version –  who, when told they had been placed in the Elite A-Division of the St Peter’s Classic hockey tourney in Peterborough last weekend, said – presumably in unison:
Bring. It. On!
And the Hal High Hawks brought it last weekend; street style; grinder style; Highlands’ style.
Last Friday and Saturday (Jan 7 and 8) the Red Hawks shook off an early round robin overtime loss and then ran the table to capture Peterborough’s St. Peter’s Classic gold medal with a 3-0 win over Scarborough’s Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate.
Coach Ron Yake, obviously happy, said it was an unprecedented performance.
“This is the first time the Red Hawks have ever won the A division in this tournament,” said Yake. “It is a huge accomplishment coming as a result of everything coming together for six games in a row.”
Not surprisingly Yake left it at the doorstep of his players. Yake has always said that he and assistant coach Bruce Griffith can only do so much in practice to prepare the players for the cauldron.
After that it’s up to the guys on the ice; up to the Hawks to pull together that whopping whole from a scattered sum of parts. “Our play,” said Yake, “was summarized best by both the Lucas (High School in London) and Mowat (Collegiate) coaches after the games when they said to me: ‘You have a very good team.’ They didn’t say anything about individual players; just the team.”
And quite a team.
Hal High is an experienced and very canny squad that eschews headlong rushes in favor of the quick outlet. A team that moves the puck as a unit; hustles back and does what it takes to win.
Not a prima donna in the mix. A hunkering, tamped down bunch; players that bring a hammer, lunch bucket, hardhat and steel toed Tackaberries to every game.
The Hawks needed that pick and shovel work ethic last weekend.
Hal High was the only AA school in the 16 team Elite A division of the Classic – 40 high schools overall competed in the three tiered tourney. The Hawks are usually relegated to the B-Division with other ‘AA’ mid-enrolment schools, but their record and remarkable string of tournament wins (in Ottawa and Lake Placid NY) forced the St. Pete’s Classic conveners to slow dance the Hawks into the 16-team Elite pool.
And the plucky Hal High Red Hawks played David to some pretty intimidating Goliaths.
They lost their first game on Friday morning (Jan 7) to host St. Peter’s – 2-1 in overtime.
The loss – only their second of the season – must have struck a chord with the Hawks.
How do we know?
Well, because later that day Hal High went on to defeat Catholic Central from London, 4-2. In their third game they nipped Waterloo Collegiate, 2-1. The overtime loss (earning 1 point), plus the two wins moved them into the elimination round as first seed from their pool.
On Saturday, in the one versus four finals, the Hawks nudged Georgetown’s Christ the King Catholic 4-2. They beat Lucas Secondary School from London 2-1 in the semis.
The final 3-0 shutout over Mowat put the cap on an exciting but wheezy long – six games, two days -weekend of action.
“We had a great tourney,” said Yake. “It was our best one yet… with a total of 40 teams from across Ontario.”
Yake said that the coaches simply rotated their two goalies Zach Harrison and Andrew Elia.
Again, like the rest of that T-E-A-M, the tandem of Hawk crease buffs were remarkably poised.
The twin rookie keepers replaced two veteran goaltenders Alex Monk-Cray and Paddy Manuge this season. All concerns about how well the Zach and Andy connection might fit into the veteran mold have been erased in the course of their 5-0 regular season record coupled with three straight tournament victories.
“As you can see the games were very close so team defense was the key for success; along with timely goals, and disciplined play,” said Yake. “The team showed chemistry and supported each other in all situations. They should be very proud of this accomplishment.”
Overtime Hits: Check the sports section for results from Tuesday’s game versus IE Weldon. The Hawks played at home on Wednesday afternoon against Adam Scott Lions. Results and pics next week.
Get Gav at gav@pardontheeruption.com; or follow stories at haliburtonsports.blogspot.com.