Blue Goose wins Massacre in double OT
BRECKENRIDGE – It was do or drink. Rob King did – then he and the rest of his Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club members drank anyway.With time winding down in the second sudden-death overtime of Saturday’s 31st annual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre winter rugby tournament final, King stretched across the snowy try line to score the winner and hand the hometown favorite Goose its first Massacre crown since 1996.King’s score not only sent his team into a frenzy, it also prevented the Goose and runner-up Queen City from having to decide the championship with the ultimate odd rugby rule: Should a semifinal or final match at the Massacre remain tied after two overtimes, the two teams must hold a boat race to determine the winner. Fastest chuggers win.It’s happened a few times over the years, but not on Saturday.
“I just cleaned up a dirty ball and put it in for the try,” King said. “I wanted this so bad. No one gave up. Everyone left everything out here on the pitch. This is it, man. The team came together for it.”Saturday’s championship was even sweeter for the Gentlemen because Queen City had beaten them in the final each of the past two years. It was a fact not lost on them as they accepted their Tommy Gun-shaped wooden trophy.”Huge redemption,” said King, one of a number of players on Saturday who also played in the Goose’s victorious final match a decade earlier.Before King picked up the ball that Ian Hannaford tipped toward him and ended the tournament, Kiwi Wayne Ramshaw had given the hosts an early 1-0 first-half lead. Then Queen City tied it up, though, and play turned to a stalemate until the second overtime.It was amazing in its own right that either team had any energy left at all for the final, which began at 4:30 p.m. Both won their semifinal matches in overtime, and had been playing on Carter Park’s slushy surface since Saturday morning. Queen City played the day’s opener at 8:30 a.m., in fact.
In the matches leading up to the final, Goose members Allen Warmbier, Buck Goroski, Zack Zellars, Russel Backhouse, Tyler Habig and Ron Reyes all scored tries, with Warmbier and Zellars tallying two apiece. Warmbier’s second score came from a long burst of speed that ended the semifinal win over the Denver Highlanders and put the Goose in the final.Whereas other teams did their damage with speed on the wings, only Warmbier posed that threat for the Gentlemen. Otherwise, it was a straight-ahead, old-fashioned attack that carried them offensively, and sure-tackling and equally hard-nosed play on defense. Backhouse and Goroski, two veterans, led by example on both sides of the ball.Aside from the action on the field, the Massacre – the Goose’s largest fundraiser – entertains equally as a spectacle off the pitch. “Partying and playing, they go hand in glove,” said Rob Ketelhut, the club president.
The day featured the gamut of rugby cheer, from shirtless linesmen to a kegerator that never got a break. Anything goes at the Massacre, including constant keg stands and “Shoot the Boot,” an often overlooked pastime that requires its participants to chug beer from a cleated shoe.Although Backhouse maintained early in the day that the competition always comes first – a claim backed up by the day’s finish – he conceded with a smile, “Afterward, we do enjoy each other’s company.”Late hits: Fourteen men’s teams entered this year’s Massacre, as well as nine women’s squads … The Harlequin Olde Girls won the women’s division and remain the only club to capture that title since the Massacre was expanded to both genders … Summit’s women’s team went 1-2 and failed to advance out of pool play. Suzanna Barth led the local girls, while Kristen Yankowski, Lea Taylor, Morgen Harrington, Catherine Boyd, Sara Edwards and Erin Nielson also contributed.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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