By Seth Daniel
One of the summer highlights is about to unroll itself on Eden Street Park during the first week of August as the annual Kitchen Kup roller hockey tournament heats up the the beloved rink known as the “kitchen” with the most intense competition in the city and the region.
Kup Founder Joe Brennan said this week that the double elimination tournament on Aug. 5 and 6 is coming together nicely again this year, but likely with a little bit more manageable roster of 16 teams. Last year, he said, the ranks swelled as the Kup’s popularity grew and word of the competition became more widespread. That kind of caused things to go a little later than normal, but Brennan said he is encouraged by the field this year.
“Everything is going really good for the planning so far,” he said this week. “We have 16 teams confirmed, which is a shorter field than last year. However, 16 teams is a good number so you aren’t running around trying to fit everything in. I’m glad there aren’t as many as last year because it did push us a little late.”
That obviously doesn’t mean the competition is any shorter, as quality teams from all over the city and region have registered and are in serious contention for the Kup.
Former Northeastern University hockey standout Brendan Collier has brought his “stud” team back to the Kitchen, and University of Vermont star Liam Coughlin (Chicago Blackhawks prospect) will have his Southie team back on the blades.
The New Hampshire team is also returning this year with a few prospects as well.
For Coughlin and the Southie team, it will be a massive attempt at payback this year.
Brennan recalled that few will forget last year’s thrilling overtime finish when Joe Hurley of the Charlestown Sandro team drilled in the game winner over Southie to ensure their names were etched on the coveted Kup. That will be a great backdrop for the overall competition, which Brennan said promises to be better than ever.
“This is really the high end of the sport,” he said, noting that it’s the only roller hockey tournament that’s been publicized in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and other networks.
Added Brennan’s friend, Ed, “There’s just a lot more going on every year. In terms of the tournament, you’re not going to find better roller hockey than you find out at Eden Street Park in the Kup. I’ve been going since 2005 and 2006. Every year it seems to get better.”
The tournament this year continues the tradition of prospects and college stars – and even former NHLers – competing in the high stakes roller hockey, Brennan said. He said while stars like the New York Rangers Jimmy Vesey and the Bruins’ Matt Grzelcyk and the Hayes brothers no longer play, they likely will make appearances at some point during the weekend.
Last year, Pittsburg Penguin Brian Dumoulin found his way to the Kup while visiting Charlestown. Now a resident of the Town, the two-time Stanley Cup champion may be in the mood for great roller hockey in his new neighborhood once again.
The full lineup of teams so far include: Crulla, New Hampshire, Russo, Nolan Carrier, Crawford, Eastie, Southie, Collier. Sean Wrenn, Cam, Scales, Pat Wrenn, Barry, Cantin, Luke and Brennan.
The tournament will be accompanied by apparel for sale, food, children’s activities and other surprises.
Sponsors this year include CHAD, Monument Flooring, Monument Restaurant, DC 35 Union Local 1957, Nolan Group, Candidate Stephen Passacantilli, Mayor Martin Walsh, Universal Screening, and Siebold Fencing.
The fun kicks off from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 5 and 6, and, though it’s not a non-profit or a fundraiser, Brennan said they donate much of the proceeds to Charlestown’s Mark and Michelle Gorman Scholarship Fund.