Wow everyone!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!….we owe you a ton of debt and gratitude for your amazing support and we hope we can count on you to keep it up until December 11th when the voting period ends!!!…We are so thrilled and humbled by CBC’s notification today that our song “Lay It On The Line,” is currently in the Top 100 out of close to 1000 song entries from across the Nation!!!
Today was a really special day for us on many fronts as an amazing article in the Ottawa community paper, L’Ora Di Ottawa, by journalist GioVanni , titled: “Sal Piamonte’s Hockey Song: Giving Canada Something More To Cheer About,” started off the day, followed by the wonderful news of our current placement in the SongQuest challenge! Prior to this awesome news, I was putting together another hockey fact to add to the blog today…and although I was going to hold off on it until tomorrow, I figured there is no better time than the present to keep the great karma rolling!!! As always, keep up the great support for our hockey song by listening, liking, voting, and sharing our song “Lay It On The Line,” by continually visiting http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Sal-Piamonte !!
So here it goes, the Sal Piamonte Hockey Fact (more like story) #4, and it involves a memorable game that I played against former NHL’er PJ Stock, and current NHL’er Dainus Zubrus:
So here I am, training camp exhibition game during my second year of Jr. A hockey with the Smiths Falls Bears, coming off a pretty solid rookie campaign the year before, where, as a 5’10”, 160 lb defenseman, I tallied 5 goals and 14 assists in 42 games. Now, a year later, arriving at camp at a solid and muscular 170 lb’er, I was ready to Rock n’ Roll…conditioning and body were in top shape, and so was my confidence…The end of the year would see the team struggle in the standings, but it would see me post a personal best of 16 goals and 44 points during the campaign, which included a player of the week honour in the CJHL for a hat trick against the Brockville Braves, and a nod for coming one goal short of breaking the Smiths Falls Bears record for goals scored by a defenseman in a season. On this day, however, the Pembroke Lumber Kings were visiting us to play an exhibition game as both teams were in the middle of tailoring their final rosters for the regular season. The game begins and I score a goal and get off to a great start, but shortly after the start of the second period, I get railed into the boards from behind from someone as I go back to grab the puck in my own end. With no penalty called, and a raging angry fire burning inside, I chase that red sweater back to centre ice, turn that guy around, and before I could say “let’s drop the gloves,” notice that this dude has a full beard….I mean, like Duck Dynasty style…and as luck would have it, is none other than Pembroke’s captain, and tough over-ager that year, Jeff O’Connor. GREAT. To make matters worse, my dad was on the other side of the glass, and didn’t exactly make the situation better when I heard him say “Oh Shit.” …So the gloves come off, punches get thrown, we trip over sticks, the fight ends, and neither of us really took any serious punches or got hurt, but from that point on, would have a level of respect for each other, each time we played…and when we played, it was all out war.
Playing in Pembroke was brutal. I always played well against the Lumber Kings, but their fans were a force to be reckoned with, and knew how to get under a player’s skin. So there we were…playing the Kings in Pembroke, and I should’ve known it was going to be a long night when they booed my name when it was called at the start of the first period….and that first period was rough!…but we scored and I got an assist on the goal. More boos…and boos…and heckles… the end of the first period saw a pretty awesome fist-a-cuffs between my buddy, Gord Ollson (younger brother of Johnny Ollson who won a Memorial Cup with Darren Pang & Brian Kilrea of the Ottawa 67’s back in the day), and none other than the gregarious former NHL’er, and now sportscaster (and undergarment endorser), P.J. Stock. PJ was a talented and hard-nosed player, but he and Gord went toe to toe and must have exchanged a 100 punches…it was ridiculous, but awesome. End of period: Smiths Falls 1, Pembroke 0.
At the start of the second period, Jeff O’Connor and I tap each other on the pads, a show of respect, knowing full well that once the whistle blew, it was going to be “go hard or go home.” And as luck would have it, the opening face off of the second period was won by us, and the puck comes back to me. Just as I begin to move forward with the puck, it sticks on the water still floating on the ice, and I look down for one split second…..one lousy split second. When I finally get the puck to “unstick,” I look up, and BAM!!!!….I get plowed by the Jeff O’Connor train at centre ice…dazed, confused, and refusing to let the Pembroke faithful continue to celebrate at my expense, I stumble up….and WILLFULLY force myself to make it back to the bench….problem is, I skate to the wrong bench…rough night Piamonte, rough night….by the end of the second period, I managed to get my marbles back, log another assist, and we head into the dressing room tied 2-2.
With the game tied, the start of the third period had Pembroke Captain Jeff O’Connor approach me with a smile, asking me if I was okay. It was a bittersweet moment, but he meant it, and we both knew that on this occasion, he had one over on me. That was one of the beautiful things about hockey…where else could you fight like dogs during the play, but in between whistles, have enough respect to be human and to acknowledge true gamesmanship?!?…But the puck eventually dropped, and it was “ON.” The game got chippy, and in the heat of the battle, I got called for roughing amidst the screams and jeers of the Pembroke faithful…as I get in the box, I sit down, slam my stick, take off my gloves, and reach for the water bottle. Suddenly…WHAM!!!!…smashed with a rubber chicken!…I look left…I look right…then WHAM!!!…smashed again with a rubber chicken!…but just as a third shot came reigning down, I managed to anticipate, catch, and pull the elastic cord from the rubber chicken away from whoever was swinging it, and before I could think twice, I began firing back crazily over the glass…SMASH! Take that!!!…and again!!!….and….whoops!!!….just as I glance up in mid-swing, I think to myself, “is that a young kid I’m trying to hit with a rubber chicken?!?!?!?”……OH BOY….the crowd goes caaaaa-rrrr-aaaaazy!!! Their favourite rink rat just had his rubber chicken stolen and was almost being beaten with it….you couldn’t have scripted a more ridiculous situation. So obviously, when I realize who it is, I stop swinging the rubber chicken, and take a quick look to my left, where I see the boys on my team bench laughing hysterically at what they were seeing…like “keeled over laughing” as I was being threatened by the crowd and taunted by opposing players…as I get escorted off the ice, I am told to stay locked in the dressing room until the game was over for fear of reprimand by the Pembroke fans….the whole time time thinking “did this really just happen?”
So what is my connection to PJ Stock and Dainus Zubrus you wonder?!?!?!?…..NOTHING!!!!…except that they happened to be playing against me that fateful night when I was taken down by a rubber chicken!!!! THANK YOU PEMBROKE!!! It’s still unclear to me as to which team won the game, but looking back…who really cares…that golden hockey memory is a keeper!!!
I promise to keep the next fact/story shorter, so stay tuned….and remember: “If you’re gonna give it, be prepared to take it!!!”
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