A Championship Moment

One of my coolest moments I’ve had as a dad was two weeks ago, watching my son Austin play in the Eastern Hockey Federation championship tournament. Remember that movie Miracle, the story about the 1980 U.S. Olympic   Hockey Team’s win over Russia? Picture that, and that’s what this tournament was like to watch. Especially the semifinal game against the Minuteman Flames.

Austin, 7, and his team, the Providence Capitals, play some of the best teams in New England. As a dad, I do my best to encourage my sons and give them advice, but before the semis I really didn’t know what to say.

The Capitals’ nine-game winning streak paled in comparison to the Flames.’ They’d won 40 straight games and had a 4-0 record against my son’s team this year.

I try to be optimistic no matter what, but not too many people gave our team a chance. The stats just weren’t in our favor.

Then came our own little miracle.

This was a monumental game. When those kids hit the ice that night they truly believed they could win.

It didn’t matter that they were playing in the Flames’ house. Thanks to great coaching by Jerry Buckley, our own Herb Brooks, Austin and his teammates were ready to play and they showed it. Jerry’s an NHL agent for some of the big names in hockey whose sons play on the team too. We’re happy to have him as a coach, I can tell you that.

The Capitals won 5-4 and Austin pitched in with a few assists. Every kid on the team played tremendously and the parents on both sides went wild – on our side out of pure amazement and happiness for our kids.

They went on to face the Bay State Breakers in the finals and won 8-2 and even though it’s been a few weeks, Austin still sleeps with his championship plaque in his arms. I can’t blame him. I may do that with my next Wally!

Speaking of Wallys, we brought a new crew member on board on the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team – crew chief Dickie Venables!

Not many people know this, but I’ve known Dickie for years. Since 1997, in fact. I met him when he was at John Force Racing and then when he tuned my best friend Tony Pedregon to his championships, as a co-crew chief and then as crew chief.

I’m really excited to have him on board with us. Dickie’s spent quite a bit of time with Chris Cunningham and Marc Denner at the shop in Charlotte, N.C. already and while we won’t make any major changes at the race in Las Vegas this weekend, we are looking forward to trying some new ideas out at testing after the event and after the 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway

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