Clichés can be overused in sports – so it’s fitting that “ home is where the heart is” for the 2014 Allan Cup national champion Dundas Real McCoys hockey club.
Seventeen members of the team – including about 70 per cent of the Allan Cup starting lineup – were in attendance at J.L. Grightmire Arena Monday night to celebrate with 200 fans the title they earned in dramatic overtime fashion eight days earlier.
Players mingled and chatted with fans, signed autographs and accepted thanks and congratulations.
With a regular season record of 11 wins and one loss at Grightmire and four straight Allan Cup game wins, the McCoys appeared to enjoy playing at home.
McCoys starting goaltender and Allan Cup Most Valuable Player Mike Mole recognized the value of a strong Dundas fan base, and always looked forward to Friday night home games.
“We had a great home record, that’s a sign of the fan support,” Mole said as he signed autographs and chatted with fans. “The people of Dundas deserve (the Allan Cup).”
Mole made a total of 53 saves in the 3-2 overtime win over Newfoundland’s Clarenville Caribous, in the championship final.
He also picked up the tournament’s only shutout.
Heading into the final game, Mole compared his stats over three games to the record of Caribous star goalie Jason Churchill – they were by far the top two goalies to that point. Mole said he realized their impressive numbers were nearly identical.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge for us. As a goalie, you want to outplay the guy at the other end,” Mole said.
But the goalie also credited his defence, and forwards, for their play. They blocked numerous shots and forced Clarenville snipers to the outside of the ice.
“During the season, we played more of a run-and-gun game. When it comes to the Allan Cup, you can’t do that – the other teams are too good. The guys did a good job, stepping up to play a system,” Mole said. “It’s a cliché, but defence wins championships.”
McCoys captain Ryan Christie, who played nine years of professional hockey, was asked about the large number of players who made the trek into Dundas on a Monday to mingle with fans.
“It speaks to how proud we are,” Christie said. “This is probably the best group of guys I’ve played with in my career. And it gives us another chance to hang out.”
Christie tied with Jason Ward to lead the McCoys with six points in the Allan Cup.
An estimated 200 fans attended Monday’s event and that certainly touched McCoys’ president and general manager Don Robertson.
“The turnout tonight was great. It’s a lot of work, but a night like tonight makes it worthwhile,” Robertson said. “I was really impressed with the fans and how many came out.”
Even if the final tally ends up indicating a financial loss for the Allan Cup week, Robertson wasn’t complaining Monday night.
“We didn’t do it for the money…” he said. “I was backing it, I’m a big boy. It certainly wasn’t a profit centre.”
But Robertson pointed out the exposure the Real McCoys, Dundas and the City of Hamilton got nationally — from clips and comments on Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada, to mentions during an NBC television playoff broadcast, to the Allan Cup final live on TSN2 — is exposure money can’t buy.
“If you think that doesn’t make a difference in our sports community, you’re wrong,” Robertson told Hamilton city councillors a few days earlier.
He thanked the McCoys executive for all their behind the scenes work and the 125 Allan Cup volunteers who provided thousands of hours of work.