An instant "Classic"

Matt Molloy
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Team Old hopes to break losing skid against Young Gunz

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and there’s no better way to extract a little revenge than by stopping a losing streak.

CLASSIC — Action between Team Old and the Young Gunz at last year’s Christmas Classic Charity Hockey Game. This year’s game takes place tomorrow night, 8 p.m., at the Gander Community Centre.

The third installment of the Christmas Classic Charity Hockey Game takes place tomorrow night at the Gander Community Centre, and Team Old is looking to put a halt to the Young Gunz winning streak that started two years ago.

Not familiar with the Christmas Classic Charity Hockey Game? You're probably not the only one. It was first started two years ago by a group of buddies who wanted to play for bragging rights. Last year, a small crowd gathered to watch the game, which was won for the second consecutive year by the Young Gunz.

Because of the crowd that showed up last year, organizers made a publicity push this year to get even more people out to watch the game, while helping a local charity at the same time.

"We noticed a lot of people came out to watch the game last year, so we figured we might as well do something charitable over the Christmas season if we can actually get a lot of people to the rink for the game," said Young Gunz player David Clarke. "We figured the Gander Food Bank could use all the help it can get, so we're encouraging people to bring a non-perishable food item, or $2 to the game. Even if they don't want to stay and watch the game, they can still drop off their food at the rink during the game, and we'll get it to the Gander Food Bank."

Although the local food bank will be the true winner after tomorrow night's game, which starts at 8 p.m., the players have been involved in a friendly war of words since the summer.

The trash talking is all in good fun, and the players from both teams are friends, but that doesn't mean they don't want to come away victorious tomorrow night.

In fact, even the name Team Old has one player asking for a name change.

"I'm the second-oldest guy on the team," said 27-year-old Ryan Decker. "We definitely need a better name. They're the Young Gunz, and we're just Team Old. Nothing original, right?"

"We even have coaches," chirped Clarke. "You guys got nothing."

"We just police ourselves out there, really," added Decker. "We're more responsible, I think."

Mike Burns will be behind the bench for the Young Gunz and volleyball standout Max Burt will take over assistant coaching duties.

Gander Flyers' goalie Ryan Bradbury is penciled in as head coach for Team Old.

A number of prominent names will dress for their respective teams tomorrow night, like Young Gunz players Andrew and Ryan Matheson, Atlantic Challenge Cup competitor Josh Fitzgerald, and current Gander Collegiate Concorde Blair Bursey.

Team Old will respond with former Herder Memorial Champion Mike Dyke, and current Gander Flyers Marcus Adams, Adam Walsh, James Keough and Doug Hardiman.

“The streak stops this year.” Ryan Decker

According to Decker, Team Old is ready is break its losing streak.

"We already got Dyker (Mike Dyke) and Hardiman (Doug Hardiman) upset," said Clarke proudly.

"Yeah, they've been grilling a few of our boys for not trying," said Decker. "That won't be happening this year. The streak stops this year."

The referees for tomorrow night's game include Young Gunz-aged officials Justin Barrett, Robert Mercer, and Dougie Kelly, so when asked if there's a fear of favourtism towards the Young Gunz, Decker wasn't coy with his answer.

"There were some questionable calls last year," said Decker, with Clarke looking on in disbelief.

"I don't think so," said Clarke. "I think that's just the losing talking there." 

Both players are predicting wins, with Clarke predicting a blowout win for the Young Gunz.

Both teams seemed prepared for tomorrow night's tilt, and both teams have brought in players who are in shape, and have been playing hockey this season. 

"I think it's going to be a blow out," said Clarke, with Decker chuckling next to him. "Last year, a few of the guys hadn't played since high school, but everyone's playing some sort of hockey now. I'm guessing 7-2 for us Young Gunz."

"I'm going to say...my God, 7-2 hey," said Decker. "I'm going to say 8-5..."

"For the Young Gunz?" asked Clarke.

"No...no, for us," replied Decker. "A lot of the guys on our team stay in shape, and a lot of them are playing hockey, and I think this year's team will be the best it's ever been."

Everyone involved is looking forward to a good, competitive game of hockey tomorrow night, and besides the trash talking that's been going on, and the friendly rivalry that's formed, all players know the game is for the Gander Food Bank. They want to do what they can to help the local charity, and have a little fun in the process.

"This is a Christmas hockey game, and Christmas is about giving and it's about family. This is a great time to get the family out to the rink to watch a competitive hockey game, while at the same time helping a local cause," said Decker. "And for us, this is a great time to catch up with everyone. All of us came through the minor hockey system, and the stories that are told in the dressing room about years past isn't even fit...but it's the most fun thing about it. It's a great laugh for us, and I'm sure the people who show up to watch won't be disappointed."

Admission is $2, or a non-perishable food item.

Organizations: Young Gunz, Gander Food Bank, Christmas Classic Charity Hockey Game Gander Community Centre

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