2013 SHAMROCK SHOOTOUT
From The Original Six
Saturday afternoon in Boston, Tommy Stapleton fed teammate Conor Lydon a perfect cross-rink to send him him in alone on goaltender Colin Stowe. Lydon feigned going to his backhand and then tried going top corner, but a fallen Stowe somehow managed to get his waffle glove on the shot as it was seemingly already past him. The rebound sat perilously on the goal crease until defenseman Henry Burns swatted it safely from harm’s way. “Way to go Henry,” yelled teammate Jack Kososki after an almost sure goal was avoided.
However, the setting for this action was not the TD Garden downtown but rather 10 miles southwest away on Temple Street in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. In addition, the teams in question were not the Bruins and Capitals, with each player wearing a helmet on the ice but rather the O’Brien Club and the Dubliners with players more likely to have green hair coloring atop their heads as they played street hockey in the one and only Shamrock Shootout.
The preeminent street hockey event in New England – perhaps the country – started in 2008 after three neighbors – Dave Tracey, Marc Sanders and Mike O’Brien – reminisced about their youth and endless hours playing street hockey year round with their neighborhood buddies. They lamented, however, that seeing children playing street hockey was a rarity, perhaps due to the rise and popularity of the Patriots and Red Sox in the early 21st century.
Not wanting their own children to miss out on the game of their own youth, they decided to jump-start the sport by bringing it back to the children of the community in the form of the Shamrock Shootout.
Straight as the sideline of a football field and almost without slope, Temple Street is the ideal street hockey “rink.” The first year of the shootout, 2008, had a nominal turnout but fun was had by all – young and old – and the groundwork for an annual event was firmly in-place and the 2009 Shootout had over 200 participants and the organizers could sense that the buzz created by the tournament would only increase the numbers in following years as politicians made it a mandatory pit stop to greet voters and local media outlets were taking notice and sending reporters, photographers and television cameras.
The numbers grew each subsequent year with the 2012 Shootout topping out at 500 players. Organizing the 2013 Shootout would prove to be a Herculean task, but the organizers weren’t worried because they knew they could utilize their aces in the hole to take care of every last detail, a fearless group that has performed the same unheralded duties every year without ever going off track. This irreplaceable trio is, of course, their wives, Mesdemoiselles Tracey, Sanders and O’Brien.
The organizational committee, along with scores of volunteers seemingly pulled off the impossible for the 2013 Shamrock Shootout. A whopping 580 players spread over 18 rinks. Each player was issued a tee shirt, a cut to order new stick, fed pizza, snacks and supplied plenty of water and juice boxes. The 1500+ family members and friends of players were also treated to food and drink, as well as Irish entertainment from the Fenian Sons and an Irish step dancing group. Disc jockey Sean McCarthy and emcee Tom Derosa ensured that there was no silent moment and kept the masses informed of pertinent information to keep the event running smoothly. The best part of all to the 2000 or so people in attendance, all of the above was provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of dozens of sponsors.
“It is a very well organized event that is equally exciting for both parents and children; it makes me proud to be from West Roxbury,” said Mary Glynn, whose daughter Bridget was a first time participant. Local business owner Rich Kfoury agreed. “It was my first time helping out and I’m looking forward to next year. As a parent, I think the event is something that the people who run it, the people of Temple Street, the neighborhood and the community as a whole should be very proud of. Every year it gets bigger and better, with the music and the Irish step dancing and families look forward to it more and more.”
Past Shamrock Shootouts concluded with an adults’ game but this year marked the start of a new event called the Legends Shootout, a penalty shot competition where entrants donated $10 to participate and the last shooter not to miss would walk away with a pair of Bruins tickets. Volunteer goaltender Alissa Berthiaume made short work of eliminating 40 of 41 Legends within three rounds and Jack Boyle was the last person standing and holding a pair of Bruins tickets for displaying his shooting skills. Best of all, 100% of the money raised was added to the Shootout’s charitable arm which raises money for an annual worthy recipient. “It’s about giving back to the community,” said co-founder Mike O’Brien. “It’s the way we were raised and we want to pass that along to future generations. That’s what the Shamrock Shootout is all about.”