The Virtua Wings of Steel closed out the weekend long 2014 USA Disabled Hockey Festival, losing to the Polar Express in the finale on Sunday after solidly defeating them in the bracket opener on Friday.
Despite the loss the Wings had a great time, welcomed a new member to the Wings family in goalie Iron Mike Reiner along with his parents Paula and Bill and the team took over the Marriott Courtyard in Marlborough, setting a new team record by eating 13 pizzas for lunch in one sitting.
Although the team was disappointed they did not win the tournament, the cards were stacked somewhat against them. Earlier in the week they were moved up in youth brackets from Class C to Class B, as one team dropped out and we were asked to move up.
Clearly, from the start of the Tournament, the Wings might have been smaller in stature, but they are unmatched in game-face and heart, led by the ‘Beast’, Robert Vettese.
Despite his bantam size the Beast will take on any player and won’t back down. As evidenced from our tough 3-2 loss on Saturday night the Beast got into a little shoving match with an opposing player twice his size and refused to back down even as he was leaving the ice, ending in nothing more than a little trash talk. Heart is something you cannot teach, it’s a trait you’re born with and the Beast has it.
To the Wings' credit they should have played in the C class but they showed up to compete and steadfastly played their hardest each game.
Another issue to consider is that the Wings were the only “pure” team in this bracket, meaning the others were combined teams stacked with All-Star players from various regions and divisions.
Fair? I think not. So, to me the Wings were the class of the tournament, a fierce company of competitors of different abilities, skating shoulder to shoulder in their sleds.
It would be remiss to not end with kudos to our new goalie. Iron Mike was in a developmental program and had never played goal in a game. Mike actually just started practicing 3 weeks ago. How awesome is that?!?! To get his first win, in his very first start, against an All-Star team, in a national tournament, that’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of.
Notes: Hesham ‘E’ Nassar led the Wings with four goals in the Tournament, his best performance of the season. Wings can use that kind of offense next season.