By Seth Daniel
For the first time ever, a South Boston team has claimed victory in the Kitchen Kup roller-hockey tournament, and organizers in Charlestown are a little nervous that their cousin Kuppers across the way have the trophy in their hands.
After the young Southie team beat the older Southie team last Sunday at Eden Park in a controversial finish, founder Joe Brennan joked that it was the first time a Southie team had been able to take the Kup over to the other side of town – and he hoped it would remain intact.
“It’s the first year for the Kup not to have a Charlestown team in the finals,” he said. “It was a Southie team versus a Southie team in the end, and so this is the first time a Southie team has had the Kup. They took it over to South Boston afterward and to Murphy’s Law and a couple of other bars I’m told. So, being the first time it’s been over there, I’m a little nervous about what they might do with it.”
It was all in good fun, of course, but the competition this year was no laughing matter, as teams from Charlestown and all over the City and region converged on Eden Park for two days of fast-paced, high-level roller-hockey games. The game is a hybrid of ice hockey, using roller blades, a round ball and a much shorter hard court. The action moves quick, and the Kup is likely the best display of the game not only in the City, but also in the region.
Last year, the Charlestown team kept the Kup at home, beating the older Southie team in overtime. This year, however, the Charlestown team got off to a slow start, as did the older Southie team.
A younger Southie team (which wore white shirts), was unproven, but powered their way through the winner’s bracket and took the title under the leadership of Capt. Shane Dillon.
It was no easy affair though, said Brennan, as they had to get past the older Southie team – which was hungry to win the Kup for the first time ever after playing for it unsuccessfully many years. As stated above, they got off to a slow start, but with veterans like Scottie Simpson and Charlestown’s Tony Resendes providing solid performances, they were able to “run the gauntlet,” Brennan said, in the loser’s bracket and end up in the finals.
However, that meant they would have to defeat the young Southie team twice.
In the finals, the older Southie team beat the young team once decidedly, and then playing for it all, the second game came down to the wire.
Brennan said it was a controversial play that will live on forever in the lore of the Kup.
With the score tied and time running out, the older Southie team appeared to score, but it wasn’t clear as the ball didn’t stay in the goal and the referee didn’t signal a score. Some said it bounced off the back iron, some said it didn’t go in. As Brennan checked with bystanders, and even reviewed a video taken by a young observer, the evidence was inconclusive, he said. The video was blurry and half of those watching said it went in and the other half said it didn’t.
In the mean time, the young Southie team went down to the other end and scored as the game clock ran out – claiming the title.
Brennan said there was just no way to overturn the play without some clear cut evidence – which there was not – and so, like last year’s amazing overtime goal by Charlestown’s Joe Hurley to win the Kup – this year’s ending would also factor into the growing mystique around the vaunted Kup.
“I couldn’t say definitively whether it went in or not,” he said. “It looks like it could have, but it’s not clear. I can’t say without a doubt. Some people there said it went in; others said it didn’t. The ref didn’t blow the whistle to signal a score. I have to be 100 percent clear to overturn his call…It was a controversial non-call at the end, and everyone is still talking about it. It will certainly add to the lore that goes with this tournament.”
Meanwhile, in a match watched closely by the Town on Sunday, it was a battle of brothers as Charlestown’s Pat Wrenn and Sean Wrenn faced off against each other. Meanwhile, in the same game, Nolan and Chris Redler also faced off – long-time players from outside the Town. The family blood on either side got intense, Brennan said, and it added to what was a great matchup with local kids involved.
“It was one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever seen,” added Brennan, noting that there were a few good tussles during the contest.
In the end, it was yet another successful weekend of summer roller hockey in Charlestown, and Brennan said it didn’t come without some great volunteers and great sponsors.
Volunteers included Kathleen Lacey-Hennessey, Alexa Hingston, Brooke Brennan, Hailey McPherson, Referee Tom Jackson and Referee George Dighton.
Sponsors included CHAD, Monument Flooring, Monument Restaurant, DC 35 Union Local 1957, Nolan Group, Candidate Stephen Passacantilli, Mayor Martin Walsh, Universal Screening, Wellesley Toyota, McHugh Electric, McCarthy’s, National Guard, Labor Assistance Professionals and Siebold Fencing.