(Photo: Nadia Gugliotta)
It was Jekyll & Hyde Saturday night at the Gale Centre, as what looked to be a nail-biter turned into a collapse of epic proportions.
On January 2nd, 2016, in his first year as Captain, Richard Jr. led the White Team to a record-breaking victory by a score of 24-15 in the 8th instalment of the annual holiday pick-up contest, the Scaringi Winter Classic. In a losing effort, defending champion Joey saw his captaincy come to an end, following an 11-7 victory over brother Antonio one year earlier.
The White Team’s offensive onslaught was led by Assistant Captain Vito Jr., tallying seven goals and a game-high 12 points. In his third Classic appearance, Nick Caligiuri led the Dark Team with eight goals and 11 points.
In his fifth start, White goaltender Steve Auld earned his second consecutive victory, improving to 3-2. His counterpart Shaun Krawec picked up the loss, falling to 1-2-1.
The win marked just the second all-time for the White Team, their only other coming in 2011, when Mike led the troops over Vito Jr.’s Dark squad.
Saturday’s contest – the first ever to be held in the New Year – broke a pair of Scaringi Classic records and tied a third. The 9-goal differential marked the largest in the history of the event, beating out the 4-goal victory the previous year. White’s 24 goals were the most ever scored by any one team (beating 2011’s 20), and the combined 39-goal output tied the record for most total goals scored, matching the 2011 contest which ended 20-19.
Records aside, the game was much closer than the final score indicated, as the White Team was clinging to a one-goal lead heading into the final period. With the Dark Team leading 10-7 in the latter half of the second, five consecutive goals by the White Team left their opponent’s head’s spinning. Jimmy Jr. was able to salvage a goal late, but the damage had been done, and momentum had clearly shifted.
The momentum shift seemed to translate to the team’s legs, as the Dark squad was clearly the slower team in the third period. Scaringi Classic veteran Rocky Addabbo opened the third-period scoring, and the White Team never looked back, outscoring the Dark club 12-4 in the stanza en route to the lopsided victory.
“I can’t believe it happened again,” said Jimmy Jr., referring to a second consecutive defeat.
The teams traded goals for the better part of the first two periods, leaving the appearance that it would go down to the wire. Neither team was able to find the back of the net until midway through the first, when Addabbo opened the scoring, completing a nice pass from Richard Jr. Vito Jr. made it 2-0 before Caligiuri potted a pair for Team Dark to draw even. Vito Jr. would add a goal late to give White a 3-2 lead after one.
In the second period, the goals came fast and furious, with each team finding the back of the net nine times.
“There were so many goals, I couldn’t even keep up,” said referee Jerry.
The Dark Team encountered problems from the get-go, which ultimately led their demise. Australian ringer Jake Knott was brought in to counter his Jr. A Parry Sound Islanders teammate Vito Jr.; however, he lost an edge in the early going which hindered his performance the rest of the way.
“It’s tough when you lose an edge early – you can’t even turn without falling,” said Knott.
“But it was good fun and a great family event.”
The problems did not end there, as the defensive core ran into trouble, particularly Assistant Captain JJ who hurt his foot in the first period, effectively forcing him to go the distance on one leg. He was seen limping after the game. Former Niagara Falls Canucks Joe C. and Assistant Captain Tony, who was celebrating his 61st birthday, did their best to hold the fort.
“You’ve got JJ hurting, TT running out of gas, and me who hasn’t been on the ice since last year,” explained Dark defenceman Joe C.
One streak that appeared to be in jeopardy was Joe M.’s goal-streak, as he has scored at each of the previous seven Classics. It looked like the streak would continue early in the third period when Joe found himself on a breakaway; however Krawec came up with a huge save to give his team a fighting chance.
With the game clearly in hand and time ticking down, it looked as though the streak had reached its end. However, with just under two minutes to play, Joe found himself on a rush with his brother Anthony; the latter of which fed a pass into the slot which Joe was able to bury over Krawec’s blocker to keep the streak intact.
“When Anthony got that puck, he made it clear that it was going to no one but me,” said Joe.
“It was nice to keep the streak alive.”
Rounding out the goal-scorers for Team White were Captain Richard Jr. with five, Addabbo with four, Assistant Captain Antonio with a hat-trick, and Mike, Giuseppe, Anthony and Christian Concolino with a single tally each.
Jimmy Jr. sniped a hat-trick of his own for Team Dark, while Joe C. had a pair, and Tony and Knott each added one.
Vito Jr. and Mike each had a game-high five assists.
Prior to the contest, Captains Joey and Richard Jr. partook in the ceremonial puck-drop performed by Marcello, donning his red Montreal Canadiens jersey, and Oliver, donning Boston Bruin black and yellow.
As always, the players made donations to Project Share for families in need over the holidays.
The ninth edition of the annual “boys night out” – which includes a post-game party at Grand Central Sports Bar – is tentatively scheduled for Friday, December 30th, 2016.
FOUR BROTHERS CUCINA’S THREE STAR SELECTIONS:
1. Vito Jr. (WHITE)
2. Nick Caligiuri (DARK)
3. Richard Jr. (WHITE)
TEAM WHITE: Richard Jr. (C), Vito Jr. (A), Antonio (A), Mike, Joe M., Giuseppe, Anthony, Rocky Addabbo, Christian Concolino, Steve Auld (Goalie), Richard Sr. (Coach)
TEAM DARK: Joey (C), Tony (A), JJ (A), Jimmy Jr., Joe C., Jordan Politi, Nick Caligiuri, Andrew Stranges, Jake Knott, Shaun Krawec (Goalie), Jimmy Sr. (Coach)
SCRATCH REPORT: None
TIMEKEEPER: Vito Sr.
CEREMONIAL PUCK DROPPERS: Marcello, Oliver
*Bold = Scaringi; Italic = extended family