By Scott Taylor
What began three years ago as a ‘one-time’ friendly hockey scrimmage between the General Officers & Flag Officers (aka the GOFOs) and the Esprit de Corps Commandos has fast grown into a bitter on-ice rivalry.
On January 25, these two teams met for the sixth time at the University of Ottawa arena. This time, the event was part of a double-header, which saw the Ottawa Service Attachés Association’s squad (aka the Lame Ducks) play their own competitive match against the Esprit de Corps Commando Lites squad in the opening match. Although these two teams are relatively evenly matched in talent, on this occasion the Lame Ducks came out a little flat and through three periods failed to find their full stride. The Commando Lites won the first game of this 2017 best-of-three series by a final score of 4:1. The players of the game, as chosen by their opponents, were Lieutenant-Colonel Sergey Kozlov for the Lame Ducks and Anne Rodrigue for the Commando Lites.
The second game was truly a hard-fought nail-biter. CDS General Jonathan Vance put together a ‘dream-team’ of GOFOs and they admittedly out-played a banged up Commandos squad. Were it not for some early heroics by Commandos goalie Erick Marolt, and a strange coaching decision by the GOFOs to switch goalies midway through the third period, the end result might have been different. As it was, the dramatic finish included a GOFOs empty net, and a final offensive flurry with the extra attacker. When the buzzer sounded and the dust cleared, the scoreboard still showed a 4:3 Commandos victory. Player of the game honours went to Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie for the GOFOs and Rob Olszak for the Commandos.
As with all of these Commando Challenge fundraising games, regardless of the score on the ice, the real winners are the military charities that benefit from them. This latest campaign raised a total of $5,500 for the Cadet Leagues, and their tremendous logistical support at the event was most appreciated. To date, the six Commando Challenges have raised more than $32,000 for Ottawa-based military charities. Country singer Amanda Jordan sang the anthem at both games and entertained at the VIP post-game reception as well.
The next double-header, Commando Challenge VII, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29 at the University of Ottawa arena, 14:00 – 17:00.
For more photos by Richard Lawrence: http://www.richardlawrencephotography.ca/clients/edec/challenge6/index.html