Monday, December 29, 2008

AMHL Thursday Championship: Three Cups

December 18, 2003
Concord, MA

Week 15 the Championship
Do you believe in miracles?

In Rink 1, it was David vs. Goliath as the first place Red Army team cam in losers of one regulation game facing the 7–7 Panthers (Team USA) ....

…The Red Army came out overconfident and listless and the spunky Panthers made them pay early, jumping out to a 2–1 lead after one period on goals by Dean Banfield and Dave Losier.

Rob Mirakov had two goals to keep it close but Kevin Leverone’s goal with 5 minutes in the second and Losier’s second of the game in the third sealed the deal for the sequel…

-Excerpt from the AMHL Thursday Ticker

While VP AMHL Thursday Operations Kevin Reilly, who would write the content above, collects hockey sweaters to be laundered, Panther goalie Dan Barros savors the fresh-brewed victory and its spoils—the Koffey Cup—in the Panthers’ locker room.

Meanwhile, Leverone is in the donut room, where most of this morning’s combatants convene for the lavish, season-ending breakfast provided by AMHL management. Leverone tells the AMHL media that Barros is his first star of the game.

A few minutes later, Barros, in typical unassuming fashion, enters the room without any fanfare. But the media recognizes a star when it sees one and presses him to share his hockey story: the history leading up to this morning’s upset over the mighty “Red Army” (officially known as the Capitals), who had not lost to the Panthers.

Barros (pictured above), whose positioning and efficient technique reminds the AMHL Photographer of Martin Brodeur, is not prone to waste movement. Barros doesn't easily dispense words.

“I was nine or ten,” the soft-spoken Barros recalls about his earliest playing days, when he skated at John F. Donnelly Field in what Barros has referred to as the "People's Republic of Cambridge" (MA). Little Danny skated on the tennis courts, which, each winter, were transformed into hockey venues.

“I played a lot of street hockey, too.” Barros says. It was then, in the heyday of the Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins that Dan began his tenure between the pipes. He went on to play goalie in the Cambridge Youth Hockey program and then for Matignon High School. He harbored no lofty illusions of playing college hockey, however. But at Boston College, Barros did mind to the nets, if only in the occasional pickup game.

More than twenty years after graduation, Barros is not a sporadic fill-in; he’s an AMHL regular. In his ten-year career, his 3.96 Thursday GAA is—in a league that has more hangers than Burlington Coat Factory—is right up there with the leaders. And he’s appreciated not only by teammates such as Leverone but also by the “Red Army’s” Coach Dwyerkov (a distant cousin of Victor Tikhonov, who watched Team USA perform its first miracle).

“Barros is so steady,” Dwyerkov said after he had banished his squad to the locker room. “Those first period saves he made on (Tom) Hargravov and (Doug)Wightski were stellar. Then, after Mirakov beat him on that first breakaway, I think Barros told himself no way was Mirakov going to beat him on the next. And that sure was the case. We didn’t have many chances, but when we did, Barros barred the door for them. He looked like Jim Craig out there.”

But Barros, his Koffey Cup now complemented by two containers—one containing fresh-brewed coffee, the other eggs and pancakes because there were no plates left—disregards the accolades and credits his teammates. “Today we won with great back-checking and clogging up the neutral zone. We didn’t let them play their game, and we played ours.”

Spoken like a true champion.

Three Stars, as voted by the AMHL Media

3. Rob “Mirakov”: Normally the master of the empty-net goal, he put two past Barros.

2. “Losierone”: A product of Kevin Reilly’s imagination, Losier and Leverone are a formidable opponent (and the AMHL’s equivalent of a celebrity combined name).

1. Danny “Bar the Door” Barros

Honorable Mention:

Kevin Reilly: His rich ticker commentary inspired this story.
Dean Banfield: His circus stick tipped in his team’s first goal.
Kenny Tarrov: His great saves kept the "Red Army" close.
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