NIAGARA FALLS, ON – The National Hockey League may have Crosby versus Ovechkin at Heinz Field, but the Scaringis had brothers versus brothers, cousins versus cousins, and uncles versus nephews at the Gale Centre.
On December 30, the Scaringi males gathered at the pristine Bob Gale Centre for the third annual “Scaringi Guys’ Night Out”, also known as the “Scaringi Winter Classic”. It was a fast-paced, back-and-forth hour-and-a-half of pick-up hockey, with the Dark squad picking up their second consecutive victory, downing the White Team 11-9.
Jimmy Scaringi Jr. led the way for the Dark Team, tallying four goals, including an empty-netter in the dying seconds of the game that sealed the victory. Anthony Occasion netted four goals of his own to lead all White Team players.
Also scoring for club Dark were Antonio Scaringi, Assistant Captain James Antonio and Captain Mike Scaringi who each netted a pair, while Brian King contributed a single. Rounding out the scoring for the Whites were Joey Scaringi with two, and Joe M. Scaringi, Dave DiCienzo and Adriano Giordano who potted one each.
With the closing of Niagara Falls Memorial Arena and Stamford Memorial Arena earlier this year – hosts of the first and second “Classic” contests, respectively – the 2010 event shifted locale to the Gale Centre’s E.S. Fox Rink 1, home of the Niagara Falls Junior ‘B’ Canucks, and recently, the practice rink for Team Canada’s World Junior club.
With a seating capacity of 2,030, many were turned away at the door for this classic encounter, where the teams are never the same two years in a row, and this year, the Scaringi contingent had dwindled to just 50 per cent of all skaters. Prominent members of the audience included Maria Scaringi, Candida Menechella, Nadia Gugliotta, Julia Scaringi, Sarah Snyder, Felicia Scaringi, Sylvia Occasion, Jimmy Occasion, John Balatan and Brianne Craig.
The oldest player on the ice was Dark Team Assistant Captain Tony “TT” Scaringi, who had a highlight-reel goal on goaltender Shaun Krawec a year earlier. A former Captain of the University at Buffalo, the former UB Bull showed he still has the hands he did 30 years ago.
“I’m very exhausted to tell you the truth,” he said, while untying his custom-made CCM Super Tacks. “I’m surprised I did as much skating as I did.”
Teammates a year ago on the winning Dark squad, Rocky Addabbo was again thrilled to be on the same ice as the former UB Bulls Captain.
“It was awesome playing with my boyhood idol TT Scaringi,” said Addabbo.
The Darks didn’t waste any time, opening the scoring early when Jimmy beat White goaltender Krawec for a 1-0 lead. Antonio and Mike would follow suit, and the White squad found themselves in a 3-0 hole early on.
Giordano sparked the White team rally, picking up a rebound and sending the puck over top of Dark netminder Steve Auld. Joey and Occasion came back with a goal each to tie things up, before Joe M. streaked down the left side and let a clapper go that squeaked by Auld to put the Whites in front 4-3.
With Dark Team coach Vito Scaringi Sr. missing in action, Captain Mike did his best to settle his bench down and try to regain focus. Meanwhile, his brother Joe C., Captain of the White Team, was seemingly displeased with water to drink, making repeated requests on the White bench for some “Gato-sauce”. White Team coach Jimmy Sr. did well to step in and keep his squad in check.
The action went back-and-forth for the remainder of the contest, as the lead changed multiple times, with the game sure to go down to the wire. The White Team took a major blow when Assistant Captain Giuseppe Scaringi left the game with what was first thought to be an upper-body injury, but later revealed to be flu-like symptoms.
A man short, the White Team may have run out of gas, and even with a last-ditch effort to pull Krawec for an extra attacker, couldn’t find the equalizer.
Despite the loss, Captain Joe C. was happy with the effort put forth by his club.
“It was a great team effort – we were going on all cylinders,” said the former Canucks’ Captain. “I can’t wait for next year.”
Assistant Captain Giuseppe concurred.
“It was pretty good. We passed the puck around a lot,” he said, while also denying any similarities in his play to that of Crosby.
Anthony “Tiger Woods” Occasion was not available for game comment.
“I have some ladies waiting for me,” he said.
Perhaps the most memorable play of the game came when Jimmy Jr. knocked his brother Joey into 2011 with an open-ice hit that occurred at the Dark Team blue line in the third period. The hit, being compared to Brian Campbell’s lethal lay-down of RJ Umberger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD03ut-iUzg) in Game 1 of the Flyers-Sabres 2006 playoff encounter, left Joey lying flat on his back for over half a minute.
“For the first 20 seconds, I was knocked out and had no idea what happened,” said Joey. “The other 10, I was in pain.”
Jimmy Jr., who missed the first half of last year’s game due to travel issues, claimed afterward that he actually pulled back on the hit.
“I saw the play developing and he was starting to come up ice but was looking back for the puck, so I knew if I stepped up he would never see me coming. So I went at him and I actually stopped and just had him run into me and he went flying,” Jimmy explained.
“If I would have skated through him, he might have died.”
Joey believes that while the hit was intentional, it was not intended to injure, as his brother simply forgot how substantial the size difference is amongst the two siblings.
“I was in there zone, and I had the puck but my back was facing the play, so when I turned around to shoot it back in play, all I saw was this huge black wall, followed by pain, then me hitting the ice with tremendous force,” said Joey, recalling the fateful collision.
Jimmy Jr. apologized for the hit after the game.
After hitting the showers, the boys headed down the road to Grand Central Sports Bar for some beer, pizza and wings, and shared many laughs as they reminisced about the game.
The fourth annual Scaringi Winter Classic is tentatively scheduled for Friday, December 30, 2011. There is also some talk about the possibility of making the event semi-annual, holding a “Spring Classic” around Easter.
* * * * *
-For the second year in a row, Jerry Scaringi was a healthy scratch
-Other scratches were Vito Scaringi Jr., Richard DesChatelets Sr. and Richard DesChatelets Jr.
-Both teams went 0-0 on the power play
The Good Point’s Three Star Selections:
FIRST STAR: Anthony Occasion
SECOND STAR: Jimmy Scaringi
THIRD STAR: Tony Scaringi
WHITE: Joe C. Scaringi (‘C’), Giuseppe Scaringi (‘A’), Joe M. Scaringi, Anthony Scaringi, Joey Scaringi, Joe Gugliotta, Anthony Occasion, Dave DiCienzo, Adriano Giordano, Rocky Addabbo, Shaun Krawec (Goalie), Jimmy Scaringi Sr. (Coach)
DARK: Mike Scaringi (‘C’), Tony Scaringi (‘A’), James Antonio (‘A’), Jimmy Scaringi Jr., Antonio Scaringi, Jordan Politi, Brian King, Nick Lucia, Christian Concolino, Will Gautreau, Steve Auld (Goalie), Vito Scaringi Sr. (Coach)