It’s not the Stanley Cup, but a golden chalice sits on Paul Vendittelli’s desk as a result of two recently-victorious, gruelling playoff series.
It’s the Prince Rupert Pick-up Hockey League’s crowning achievement and Vendittelli is seeing the most recent team gets its plaque on the trophy after the league’s third season wrapped up earlier this month.
Vendittelli plays wing for the Rainbow Chrysler Capitals, the 2014 champions after a 2-0 series win over the Oceanside Thrashers, including a 6-5 overtime series-clinching victory on April 2.
“Both teams were trading chances and at one point we felt, you know eventually these have got to start going in,” said the winger last week.
Down 4-1 in the game, the Capitals slung on their rally caps and mounted the comeback.
“[Oceanside] had a shorter bench, meaning they did have a couple less players that weren’t there and so they started getting tired and we could feel a bit of that momentum start to swing,” said Vendittelli.
Down 5-4 with 30 seconds left and the goalie pulled, Rainbow Chrysler pressured the Thrashers in their own zone and pulled out the game-tying goal by Greg Blair.
“We kind of started going off that momentum and just playing basic hockey, getting it in deep, and behind their net and cycling it,” said Vendittelli.
Kendal Stace-Smith notched the overtime-winner shortly after that to add to his two-goal game, and the Capitals had claimed glory after getting a taste of the finals but falling short in the league’s inaugural season two years ago.
The Pick-up Hockey League plays 40 games between the Thrashers, Capitals, the Prince Rupert Grain Flyers and the Chances Regulators. Each member pays a $500 fee to participate, though the league has been forced to be more selective with their registration, as it’s really the only option for players not on the Prince Rupert Rampage roster or the 35+ Oldtimers’ league.
“We’re trying to fill the void with as many people as we can between 18 and 35 to give everybody a chance to have ice time,” said Vendittelli, who added the league has pretty much reached its capacity.
“We’re running out of options for ice time. We can’t take it from minor hockey or figure skating, otherwise we can easily add another team or two.”
The forward, who notched two assists in Game 2 of the finals, says the teams relatively stay the same each year, for participants to be able to play with those they’ve developed on-ice chemistry with.
“We protect some players and re-draft … you end up developing a friendly rivalry with another team. And so it’s basically been roughly the same team 2017,” he said.