This past weekend, 14 teams came together at the St. Catharines ballhockey.com Athletic Centre to take part in the 2017 Gateway to the World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships (WOBHC). The winners of this tournament would be awarded with a set of shirts, and a full entry to the 2017 WOBHC taking place later this year in Barrie, ON. Second place was awarded with the shirts and a half entry. With the chance to play in a major tournament free of charge on the line, these teams brought their A game, and weren’t going down without a fight. We stopped by the tournament on Saturday to catch some of the action, and were not disappointed by what we saw.
Arrival at the Tournament
Upon arriving at the arena, you could tell that everybody there was fully invested in the tournament. There were groups tailgating in the parking lot, teams talking strategy, and fans arriving together to spend the day watching some top-tier ball hockey. It was reminiscent of childhood memories of showing up to the parking lot before a Buffalo Bills game in the summer. The energy was infectious, and we were excited to head into the rink.
Once inside, we were greeted by some familiar faces. Gordy and Drew Clemas of BHi’s Great Britain Heritage Team were about to take to the floor for their second game as part of the London Gulls. From what we saw, they were bringing the same level of play as they as they had during the World Ball Hockey Federation (WBHF) 2017 World Championship, and as a result, they managed to take the win.
The games that we bore witness to during our time at the tournament were relatively clean. It was obvious that the teams were playing their hardest, and there was a lot of energy, but there were no fights or outward acts of aggression. Apparently it didn’t stay this way though, as Bryan McGahey, Assistant Captain of BHi’s Great Britain Heritage Team, informed me that there was some rough stuff coming out of his own team, the D-Ruds, and the Gulls. This is to be expected out of a tournament with a full entry to the WOBHC on the line. Tensions were surely riding high by the end of the event, which probably resulted in some butting of heads.
When it came down to it, the final game was between the London Gulls and the Punishers. Based on what we saw out of the Gulls on Saturday, it was obvious that this was going to be a heated match. Having lost only one game of the semi-finals, the Gulls were certainly no slouch. The Punishers, moving through the finals with a clean win record, proved themselves a bit more proficient on the floor however, and ended up taking the win, earning them first place in the tournament. They walked away with a full entry to this year’s WOBHC in Barrie, Ontario from September 22nd to the 24th. The Gulls, coming in second overall, earned themselves a half-entry to the WOBHC and a set of shirts for their team.
Steel City Sauce
Dump N’ Chugs
Congratulations to the Punishers and the London Gulls for taking the first and second place spot respectively at the Gateway to the WOBHC this weekend. Both teams played some amazing ball hockey, and we look forward to the competition at this year’s WOBHC.
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