HBS Blades Hockey…The Patriots on Ice?

New England sports fans can be forgiven if they have erased the word loss from their vocabulary this fall/winter – the top fan favorites in the region, the Super Bowl Champion Patriots (15 game winning streak) and the HBS Men’s Blades (12-0 this season) have warmed fan’s hearts this hellishly cold winter with stellar play, gutsy comebacks and unblemished records.

Nowhere was this artery melting trend more in evidence than this past weekend in frozen Hanover New Hampshire, as the HBS Men’s and Women’s Blades traveled to Dartmouth to compete in the 23nd Annual Tuck MBA Hockey Tournament. In addition to our hometown heroes, the tourney featured the finest ice jockeys from grad schools at Concordia, Michigan, Vermont Law, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Tuck and Tuck alumni on the Men’s side. The lady Blades faced off against Cornell, Michigan and Tuck.

In a dj vu from last year’s tournament, the HBS Men three-peated as tournament champions, hoisting the resplendent silver chalice after a come-from-behind, 4-2 victory over Kellogg. The HBS Women showed great tenacity and superior bench strength to land in the tournament championship where they were defeated in OT by a chippy Michigan squad.

HBS Men Undefeated And On Top Again
The Men’s team entered the tournament undefeated (8-0) on the season, and gunning for a three-peat as champions of the frozen festivities at Tuck. There were some tense moments, to be sure, but in the end our crimson-clad cowboys pulled through.

At 10:20 on Friday night though, thoughts of the victory to come were far from the team’s mind. Rather, the focus was on the late arrival from Boston of six players’ skates, including those of all-star goalie Byron “the big doughnut” Penstock (OF). Never one to be distracted, Byron was a wonder between the pipes, serving MIT / Sloan a doughnut of their own in an 8-0 romp. Penstock played the game in a borrowed pair of blades, 3 sizes too big, adding to the magnitude of his feat! (Not feet, but feat!).

Having suffered a similar defeat at the hands of the Blades back in Boston the previous week, the Sloanies attempted to slow the superior Blades with slashes and hooks. However, our heroes of the frozen pond were not to be stopped. Jeremy “Quick Change” Lynch (NB) paced the squad with two goals, while the top line of Kirk “the Great One” Nielsen (OB), Tomas “Pretty Pass” Persson (OG) and Brett “Right Spot” Rota (OG) each contributed a tally. Rounding out the balanced scoring attack were Johnny “Porno” Harper (NJ), Marco “Skates like a” Ferrari (NC) and Eric “Lightning” Lohrer (OD).

With a victory secure, the Blades took the town of Hanover by storm to celebrate. Particularly impressive moves of a different sort were displayed by Frank “Wild Man” Alvarez (NB) who found a way to dance to an Aerosmith cover band.

After sleeping off the night’s festivities, our crimson-clad warriors took to the ice once again, this time against a chippy squad of lumberjacks from Vermont Law. VT kept it tight in the early going (3-2 going into the third), thanks to a string of penalties called on the blades by an obviously biased squad of refs. Particularly heinous was their call on Dan “Hmongus Amongus” Gertsacov (OJ) when he happened to flatten one of the VT players at the blue-line. Take it from this unbiased observer, it was a no-call.

Another particularly memorable moment from this game was Jim “Superman” McNary’s (OJ) sliding sweep to keep the puck in the zone that led to a Steve “El Capitan” Carrel (OJ) mark to make it 5-2. Tomas “Pretty Pass” (OG) completed a hat-trick on the night, to go with hard-fought tallies by the “Great One” (OB) and Frank Alvarez (NB) to round out a 6-2 victory. In the post-game news conference, it was revealed that the player formerly known as Frank “Wild Man” Alvarez (NB) had changed his nick-name to “goin’ for a coffee.” No explanation was offered.

The team’s two solid wins set them up for a semi-final matchup against the home team from Tuck. With a midnight Saturday starting time, one might have expected sparse attendance at the game. Not so, as the Lady Blades and others rounded out an HBS cheering squad that frequently drowned out the home team’s slumbering cheering section as our mighty men prevailed in a defensive battle to earn a 2-0 victory and a ticket to the final Sunday morning. Goalie Byron “the Big Doughnut” Penstock (OF) lived up to his nickname as he stone-walled the Tuck scorers time and again, displaying a lightening quick glove-hand and cat-like reflexes.

Jeremy “Quick Change” Lynch (NB) started the Blades scoring, despite playing with a nearly broken hand courtesy of a vicious two-handed slash at the close of the VT Law game. Rounding out the Blades scoring was Marco “skates like a” Ferrari (NC) with one of his patented snipes from the slot.

Never one’s to miss a party, the HBS squads (men and women) left the rink at 1:40 am and headed off to liven up the evening’s festivities. Noah “Charming” Charney (OF) was particularly note-worthy for his slick off-ice moves.

With just a few hours of sleep our brave warriors took to the ice for the Championship final against a solid Kellogg team early Sunday morning. In an uncanny dj vu from last year, the opposing squad snuck ahead 2-0 through the first two frames. It coulda been the whisky, mighta been the gin, could have been the 2-4’s that our boys had quaffed the night before, but it wasn’t looking pretty heading into the third. Working with a shortened bench, the Blades slowly built the momentum back in their favor. After being silenced for two periods by effective Kellogg checkers, Kirk “the Great One” Nielsen (OB) got loose and combined with Jeff “Make my Day” Mandelbaum (OJ) to bring the Blades within one. The tide was changing. A few plays later, Ferrari teed up a howitzer from the point to knot the score at 2. The roar from the HBS fans in the stands was deafening. The tide had changed…the boyz from the Hood in Chicago were on their heels against a relentless Blades attack. There would be no OT in this game as Nielsen and Ferrari completed a nifty passing play with 4 minutes to go to put the Blades up for good. Kellogg pressed in the final minute with the extra attacker but some punishing fore-checking allowed Warren “the Beantown Bruiser” Brown (NF) to put the Northerners away for good. The three-peat was “fait-accompli.” Our crimson-clad warriors had brought home the trophy once again with a 4-2 victory.

Overall, the team turned in a gutsy performance throughout the tournament, with stellar defensive play provided by Jon “who’s your Daddy?” Gibbons (OI).

Lady Blades Take Second
The Lady Blades had a great showing at Tuck, finishing second place in the tournament after an overtime loss in the Championship game. Cheers to all the fans! We appreciated your support!

The Lady Blades got off to a slow start on opening night, losing to Michigan 4-1. An early game highlight was Margaret Warden’s (OG) first goal of the tourney, scored off a pass from Cara Shortsleeve (NF) and Jen Daily (OF).

After a good night of revelry and a satisfying team lunch, the Lady Blades lined up against Tuck and delivered a resounding 6-2 defeat. Margaret Warden, Alix Wilson (OG) and Amy Mitchell (ND Partner) scored a goal a piece, while Cara Shortsleeve rounded out the tally with three goals. Jen Daily and Grace Park (OA) centered formidable lines, supported by wingers Stephanie Hannon (OJ), Anissa Kalinowski (OG), Morgan Flatley (OD), Cindy Tse (OB Partner) and Anne-Marie Checcone (OJ). The defense played exceptionally well, anchored by Pam Kocher and Camille Kubie (OA) – and of course, our Brick Wall, Cheri, in net.

But why stop at a 6-2 victory? Cornell was next in line for a whipping at the hands of the Lady Blades – which occurred to the tune of a 12-0 landslide. Just about everyone scored this time around – most doing so while skating backwards and using a lefty stick. First timers include
d Ako Nakajima (OJ) and Jen Daily (OF) – while veterans Grace Park and Alix Wilson scored a pair of goals a piece and Margaret Warden and Cara Shortsleeve delivered hat tricks.

Unfortunately, the ensuing victory celebration at the Buchanan dorm party took a toll on the Lady Blades – who were a bit tired for the Championship game (which occurred, mind you, at 7:30 AM Sunday morning). Michigan scored early on, but the Blades answered with two quick goals from Cara Shortsleeve (the second was a tip off a slap shot from defender Pam “Powerhouse” Kocher). Morgan Flatley completed the Blades scoring rampage with the prettiest goal of the tournament. Unfortunately, some quick footwork and soft hands from the Michigan squad produced 2 goals to time the game at 3-3. The defensive prowess of stars Kathy Neuhaus (OJ), Sylvie Tran (OJ) and Beth Stott (among others) was not enough to stem the tide. Luck was not with the Lady Blades – and after a hard fought tournament, game and sudden death overtime, the Lady Blades lost to Michigan 4-3. (The trophy was not that shiny anyway).

The office highlights included attending a frat party (and being asked for ID), crashing the Buchanan dorm party, and, of course, watching Coaches Brian and Mike knock on the door of the party van. And of course – we all enjoyed betting on Noah Charney’s (OF) whereabouts late Saturday night.

The Lady Blades look forward to upcoming games to include the HBS Tournament in late March in which they will face off against Michigan once again.