Arguably, it was the best one yet.
Unquestionably, it was the most controversial.
On December 22nd, 2012, at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls, the Scaringis gathered for the fifth edition of the annual “Scaringi Winter Classic”. In what was a particularly exciting, fast-paced and tightly-contested hockey game, league officials had to step in a day after the final buzzer to quite possibly alter the game’s decision.
On the ice, the Tony Scaring-led Dark Team celebrated victory, as the final score read Dark 18, White 17. However, after an apparent controversy with the scoreclock, the league is looking at the possibility of changing the on-ice decision. A group of league officials have been in deliberations since Sunday.
“We are reviewing all the evidence at our disposal and, given that evidence, we may be left with no other choice but to declare a tie game,” said Commissioner Bettman.
“Normally, the league would not have jurisdiction to alter the ruling of an on-ice official,” said Bettman. “But seeing as how the Scaringi Classic runs without an official on the ice, we have precedence to step in and make the right call.”
The entire hour-and-a-half of hockey was so evenly-matched between the two squads, one had the feeling something out-of-the-ordinary was afoot. That something came early in the third period with Joe M. Scaringi’s White Team leading 14-13. With play ongoing on the ice, the scoreclock mysteriously changed and all of a sudden read 14-14.
“We were up by a goal and playing as such,” said the White Team Captain. “Then, all of a sudden in the middle of play, we look up and see a tie game. How can the score change without a goal being scored? None of us understood what was going on.”
Fuelling the controversy was the fact that the scoreboard operator was Dark Team Head Coach Vito Sr. After the game, the White Team filed a grievance with the league, who are looking into any evidence of foul play.
“We’re looking into it,” said Bettman. “At this point in time, we do not suspect any malice on the part of Vito Sr.”
Making matters worse, in addition to the Dark Team’s phantom goal, the White Team was also denied an apparent goal of their own. In the second period, White forward Jordan Politi ripped a quick shot from the left circle that appeared to go off the post and out. However, the puck had apparently crossed the goal line and come out so quickly that no one was able to notice it.
“I was right there in perfect view,” said White Assistant Captain “Funky” Larry Pugliese. “I saw the puck go in the net and then shoot back out. But, that’s just one man’s opinion.”
Late in the third period, the White squad was clinging to a 16-15 lead when their Captain found himself with the puck behind the opposing goal. On his backhand, he performed a quick wrap-around, sneaking the puck between the post and the right pad of Dark Team goaltender Shawn Krawec to give his squad some much-needed insurance.
But from there, the opposition took over.
In the dying minutes of the hockey game, the Dark Team were relentless, hemming Team White in their own end. Anthony “Tiger” Occasion sniped a pair of quick goals, and with the game now tied, Occasion and his teammates weren’t done.
The ever-dangerous Occasion played a nice game of catch with pointman Mark Pugliese before setting up a beautiful feed to Jimmy Jr. who banged home the apparent game-winner.
“I was only good for one this year, but at least it was the game-winner,” said Jimmy Jr. of his last-minute tally.
With time still left on the clock, the White Team was amply ready to pull goaltender Steve Auld and mount a response, leaving all of their big guns – Larry, and former Captains Vito Jr. and Mike – out on the ice.
Yet, the Dark squad refused to play on, content to call the game and declare themselves the winners.
“I play Junior B for the Canucks, and I’ve never seen a hockey game end before the final buzzer,” said Vito Jr. “That was pretty classless.”
The league noted that they were also not pleased with the unsportsmanlike behaviour of the Dark Team in the last minute of play, and that this has been a factor in the ongoing deliberations.
“Neither team has authority to declare the game over,” said Bettman. “You play until you hear a buzzer.”
The league is expected to release a statement sometime after Christmas.
Controversy aside, it was one heck of a hockey game, and fantastic fun for all involved.
“It’s about getting together with family over the holidays,” said Joe M. “Winning or losing is really just a footnote.”
In the spirit of Christmas, each player donates a few bucks from their player salary to go towards non-perishable food items that are donated to Project SHARE.
“Santa knows what the right call of that game was,” said Funky Larry. “If we should’ve won, we’ll be on the nice list and they’ll get lumps of coal. Either way, we’ll get ‘em next year.”
The sixth edition of the Scaringi Classic is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, December 28th, 2013.
Brock University’s Three Star Selections:
Star #3) Larry Pugliese
Star #2) Mark Pugliese
Star #1) Marcello Gugliotta
ROSTERS (* denotes Scaringi; **denotes extended family)
White Team: Joe M.* (Captain), Richard Sr.* (Ass’t Captain), Larry Pugliese** (Ass’t
Captain), Vito Jr.*, Mike*, Joey*, Christian Concolino**, Tanner, Andrew
Stranges, Jordan Politi, Steve Auld (Goaltender), Jimmy Sr.* (Head Coach)
Dark Team: Tony* (Captain), Jimmy Jr.* (Ass’t Captain), Mark Pugliese** (Ass’t
Captain), Antonio*, Richard Jr.*, Anthony*, Giuseppe*, Joe Gugliotta*, Rocky
Adabbo**, Anthony Occasion, Shawn Krawec (Goaltender), Vito Sr.* (Head Coach)
– In his third Classic start, White goaltender Steve Auld’s record fell to 1-2, while Dark goaltender Shawn Krawec earned his first Classic win in his second start, moving to 1-1.
– Both teams went 0-0 on the powerplay.
– The initial starting line-ups included a record 15 Scaringi skaters; however, by game day that number fell to 12.
– For the fourth year in a row, Jerry Scaringi was a healthy scratch. He has been placed on waivers and, if he clears, he will move to the farm squad. His contract is not likely to be renewed this off-season.
– Other scratches were Joe “Captain Canuck” Scaringi and Joseph-James “Ace” Scaringi.
– Andrew Stranges was a last-minute callup from the minors, filling in for the scratched Jerry.
– In his first Classic appearance, Larry Pugliese was dubbed as the event’s “Special Guest”.
– Prior to the game, Team Captains Tony and Joe M. took part in a ceremonial face-off with the newest addition, Marcello Mario, dropping the puck.
– This marked the third consecutive year that the Classic was held at the Gale Centre, and second consecutive time it was held on Rink 3.
– After 3 consecutive victories as Captain, Mike was retired as Captain this year.
– 3 father-son combos appeared in the game: Tony and sons Joe M. and Anthony, Richard Sr. and Jr., and Larry and Mark Pugliese.
– When it was pointed out to him after the game that he was only going at half-pace, Mark Pugliese humbly asserted, “I’d say it was about 40%”.
– At least two people forgot about Bones.