An epic comeback the likes of which hadn’t been seen for a few years wasn’t quite meant to be, as Brendan Collier’s veteran roller hockey team stormed back from the brink of defeat in the loser’s bracket at the 1st annual Townie Cup only to be bested in the finals on Sunday 4-3 by Dave Chiaradonna’s East Boston team.
The first annual Townie Cup – and extension of a previous Charlestown roller hockey tournament – returned after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and found all of the old talent and magic of the previous tournaments – even if the hometown favorites didn’t keep the Cup in the Town.
But the Collier team gave it their very best in the effort.
An upstart Charlestown team of young players led by Matt Lakus upended the veteran Collier team early in the tournament on Saturday, sending them suddenly to the loser’s bracket. They had been there before about three years ago when they stormed back to win the former tournament from the loser’s bracket. It appeared that same mojo was on the table this year, too, when on Saturday they made an improbably comeback against the Redler team when they were on the brink of defeat.
Going down 3-0 early and seemingly out of sorts, suddenly Collier, Pat Fidler and Scottie Simpson fell back on their experience and marched back. Simpson scored the tying goal with one minute left, making it 5-5 at the end of regulation. In overtime, Simpson again scored for the win.
“You can’t say enough about Brendan Collier and Pat Fidler,” said Cup Co-organizer Hughie O’Donnell. “They fought their way back into the finals and got back to where they always get to. They had a bumpy road to get there. They played 11 games to get to the finals.”
Added Co-Organizer Cam DelValle, “They played eight games on Sunday and that’s probably more than Team East Boston played on both days. Growing up, I watched those guys and I hope these young kids now see what we’re doing and they see them and want to do it too and mimic what we’re all doing here.”
Team East Boston, though, was a tough draw and deserved the Cup, O’Donnell said.
“We did have a lot of new teams and new faces and the level of talent was consistently high this year,” he said. “People see that this isn’t an easy tournament. We’ve known Dave for a while from roller hockey and he brought in some ringers this year. I’m happy someone we know could take it home. It’s always disappointing when it’s not a Charlestown team, but you win some and you lose some.”
Other notable teams were Nolan Doherty’s Charlestown team (Doherty is from Charlestown and not South Boston, as previously reported), which was ranked as the third best team in the tournament this year, DelValle said. Team Lockhead had strong performances as well, and the future team to watch is Lakus’ Charlestown team.
O’Donnell and DelValle said they felt the return of the tournament was a great victory for the Town – as there was no Bunker Hill Week, and no Bunker Hill Parade, but at least there was the roller hockey Cup.
“I would say overall the weekend was a great success,” said O’Donnell. “We managed to run things efficiently and were ahead of schedule both days. It was the earliest final probably ever played in Charlestown.”
Said DelValle, “Having consistency was big. We had 17 teams show up, and the level of competition that showed up was really great too.”
Both said it couldn’t have been possible without all the help they received, and they gave a big shout out to lead sponsor RISE Construction Management for making it possible. Other sponsors included McHugh Electric and the National Guard. They personally thanked George Dighton, Jesus Gambaro, Jamie Chambers, Claire Lakus, and Jolie Doherty for helping with refereeing and operations.
Through the sale of slush, they said they were able to raise $450, and that will go to Charlestown Girls Softball.
Both said in the end, everyone gave their all and, at the end of the day, they all left friends and ready to hit other tournaments around the region.
“Everyone played their hearts out on the court,” said O’Donnell. “You might be physical, and you might play hard on the court, but off the court, everyone left as friends.”