The Cayman Islands gained a fresh edge in their long sporting rivalry with Bermuda.
Cayman defeated their arch-nemesis for the 2014 Caribbean Cup of ball hockey, beating Bermuda 2-1 in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 score through regulation and overtime. As a result, Cayman is now the region’s best under the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation, winning the tournament on home soil at Kings Sports Center on Saturday.
Randy Cannon, a Canadian from Prince Edward Island, has long been regarded as the island’s best goalie and made the championship-clinching save. He said he wanted to be the hero.
“It was exactly how I wanted it to end, with the game on the line and having to make the last save of the game,” Cannon said. “That’s the way I like it. To me, it makes it simple because it’s just down to you to win the game. You can’t blame anyone else, it’s just you out there.
“I’ve done shoot-outs a couple different times. In the leagues here, I won two different championships on shoot-outs. It’s one of those things you have to work on. You don’t over-think it, you just go with it. My job was to keep the ball out of the net and I did what I was supposed to do.”
The victory also marks Cayman’s first triumph over Bermuda in the sport of ball hockey, which Cayman player Jason Windsor says dates back a decade. Windsor, who had tears of joy after the win, said the rivalry started with a narrow Caribbean Cup defeat in 2004, and over the years Cayman has lost to the Bermudians by varying score lines at international tournaments such as the world championships.
While Cannon made the game-winning stop, the history books will also note that local hockey newcomer Matt Stone netted the decisive goal during the shoot-out. Stone scored on Cayman’s second attempt after Evan Ellbogen converted the first penalty. The Nova Scotia native, who has been in Cayman only about six months, says he is grateful for the opportunity to shine.
“We went to a shoot-out in our first game [on Saturday] against Team USA and I didn’t shoot,” Stone said. “But the guys recognized I have a decent snap shot. Coach [Tim Courtis] selected me and I knew it was a lot of pressure. I tried to go to my go-to move. I threw the goalie off, I saw the net open and his glove down. I walked up, went slow and surprised him. I’ve taken a few penalties back home but none here since our league rarely does shoot-outs. I played for the Deloitte Devil Rays in the men’s league along with my line mates Brian Lehnerer and Jason Keating.
“It’s a little surreal right now. A lot of guys on the team lost to Bermuda over the last couple of years and we wanted this. We dug deep for the USA game, kept the momentum going trying to secure the upset and we pulled it off. Everybody stepped up, from the first line to the fourth line. Everybody played their part.”
Cayman had two squads in the competition, which ran over three days, with the other unit being led by Patrick Cover. Aside from Bermuda, local skaters faced opponents from Armenia, the Bahamas and the United States. Cayman 1 went unbeaten during the tournament, winning its group before defeating Cayman 2 in Friday’s quarterfinals, the U.S. in the semis and then Bermuda in the finals.
Darryl Hather captained Cayman as they edged the Americans in penalties. After a 2-2 score through regulation and overtime, both sides made one of three shots in the shoot-out’s first round before a Cannon save and Ellbogen goal sealed the win in the second round. Hather said that victory was huge.
“It was a back and forth game, we played a team with a lot of speed and it could have went either way,” Hather said. “Randy was amazing in net for us. We had one of the best goal scorers in Evan, and his big goal put us in the final. Kudos to our best line of Stone, Lehnerer and Keating because those guys dictated that game.”
The Americans, coached by George Tarantino Jr., had a select squad representing various states and used Cayman resident Serge Berube in net. For team captain Mark O’Neill, who is part of the executive board for the American Street Hockey Institute which governs the sport in the U.S., Cayman benefited from sloppy play.
“We took too many penalties, too much time in the penalty box,” O’Neill said. “We played with four defensemen and we were playing shorthanded. We had about eight penalties lasting a total of 24 minutes, that’s a third of the game being shorthanded.
“I’m from Boston and there were some guys from Florida, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles. This is the first time many of our guys have met and played with each other. If we had brought another team, it would have been a different story. I started traveling in about 2004 and I’ve played in the Caribbean Cup in 2005 and 2006 and beat Bermuda both times.
“George and I have known each other a long time and he’s also a coach for Team USA for the over-40 national team, which plays in the ISBHF 2014 Masters World Cup in Tampa, Florida, on Sept. 18 to 21.”