Dirty Thirty Senior Women’s tournament looking to expand
As the 10th annual Dirty Thirty Women’s Senior recreational tournament was crowning four new champions, plans were already under way to expand the popular event next year.
The tournament celebrated its 10th year with 16 teams competing in four different divisions. The survivors faced off in the finals on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Kensington Valley Ice House in Brighton.
The tournament was initiated by Michele Monson, who started the Michigan Women’s Senior Hockey League in 1988 with the Polar Bears, a learn-to-play novice team. Over Dirty Thirty’s 10 years, Monson has had to turn away teams, including many from other states and Canada. But she hopes to change all that by expanding the tournament in 2019.
Way back when the Polar Bears were forming, Monson enlisted husband Gil Ruicci and friend Ted Lindsay, Red Wings great and Hall of Famer, to teach and coach that first team.
Lindsay has long been involved with the tournament, dropping ceremonial pucks before championship games and handing out awards to each champion and runner-up. He was unable to attend this year’s tournament, so another local hockey player filled in for him: Joe Gagnon, radio’s Appliance Doctor (WKTA AM 1050, 8:00-10:00 a.m. Sundays), who has played in Red Wings Alumni games with Lindsay. The players were thrilled to have him on the ice wearing his signature white doctor’s jacket and stethoscope.
Gagnon was impressed with what he saw.
“I watched my granddaughter play high school hockey, which was very exciting,” he said, “but this was just fascinating, so full of energy. The skill level in the top division” – in which the Hockey Bags from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, played the Illinois Stars – “was something to see. Grandmothers playing with their daughters and grandchildren cheering for them, a goaltender playing on prosthetic legs and you couldn’t tell, ex-college players and AAA travel players – all the teams at all levels showed such passion for the game.”
Monson called the tournament “a great success. The players are happy, so I am happy. My helpers made it all work – daughter-in-law Christina Monson, grandson Derek (Monson, who helped coach the Polar Bears), sister Lori Karides, niece Kaitlyn Powell and dear friend Amy Finkbeiner. Amy will be the director for next year (when) we are planning a much larger tournament.”
Here are game summaries from the four finals:
REC ONE DIVISION: In less than a minute, Black Ice went up 1- 0 against Top T with an unassisted goal by Jenna Donnelly. Top T fought back valiantly for the rest of the game, but Black Ice goalie Tiffany Blaine was hot and held off a fierce empty-net effort in which the Black Ice scored again, Laura Smithson from Jenna Donnelly for a 2-0 victory.
Sally Krug-Schaffer said it was a great game for her Black Ice and could have gone either way. “This was a fun, clean game. We lost to Top T on Saturday and then came back to win the championship. Our goalie Tiffany Blaine really kept us in the game!”
Top T player Maria Laition was happy with a fine game. “It was a very competitive tournament and game and we had a really good time. We look forward to doing it again next year.”
REC TWO DIVISION: The Polar Bears faced off against the Motor City Crush in a back-and-forth battle that went into OT. The first period went scoreless until the Crush’s Heather Green broke free and charged in for an unassisted goal. The Polar Bears tied it up at 7:49 in the second period thanks to Carolyn Chetcuti, assisted by Karin Pearson. At 8:00 in the third, the Crush went ahead again on a goal by Sue Soborowski assisted by Tiffany Ribble and Barb O’Leary. The Polar Bears came back again at 2:28 with a tying goal by Michele Milligan assisted by Brittni Adams and Michelle Toy.
(WRITER’S NOTE: Tiffany Ribble played with my daughter Katherine for the original Michigan Capitals U19 AAA, 1989-91. Great hockey player!)
A five-minute four-on-four overtime period went down to 39 seconds when the Polar Bears’ Pearson finally scored with an assist from Adams, and the Bears hoisted the Dirty Thirty Cup.
The Polar Bears’ Monson was on the bench with a health issue after having played the first two tournament games. Her grandson, Derek Monson, a Calvin College sophomore who plays for the Calvin Club Team, coached the Polar Bears for this game. Monson marveled at how well he did, quietly pointing out Crush weaknesses to exploit. “Our players really appreciated how much Derek helped us. It was great to win this championship against such an excellent team.”
Soborowski was very proud of her team and the fact that they went to sudden death overtime in the championship game. “It was a very exciting game to play,” she said. “We all want to express our appreciation for the years of support from Ted Lindsay, and to Joe Gagnon for filling in for Ted. It was such a pleasure to meet the Appliance Doctor after listening to him on the air all these years.
“As usual, Michelle Monson gave us a wonderful tournament.”
REC THREE DIVISION: The Illinois Stars were pitted against the Sault Ste Marie (Ontario) Hockey Bags, who had won this division in 2017. Rec Three was the highest competitive level in the tournament and included some former college and high school players. Some of the Hockey Bags players had experience on AAA Elite teams as teens and young adults, and the Stars had a similar roster, including Amanda Pfeiffer and Sarah Brownlee who both played for Princeton University.
The Hockey Bags could not get the puck past Stars goaltender Sue O’Conner and were shut out 3-0 in an exciting and very entertaining game. The Stars scored a goal in each period: Mandy Pfeiffer from Debra Bolino, Bolino unassisted, and Bolino from Pfeiffer.
Hockey Bags captain Lorie Springall said it was a fun game and that the Dirty Thirty was her team’s favorite tournament. “This tournament is always excellent hockey with good, clean fun, and the wonderful town of Brighton to visit,” she said. “We look forward to being back next year.”
Illinois Stars player Mandy Pfeiffer agreed. “This is our favorite tournament every year, the best one,” she said. “It is very special for me as I grew up in Davison, Michigan, and my mom and dad and sister get to watch me play. We played really well together in this game, and Sue O’Conner made a big difference in our net. We look forward to Dirty Thirty 11 next year.”
NOVICE DIVISION: The Ice Ninjas and the Cougars fought to the final buzzer with the Cougars making an empty-net effort to tie up a 2-1 deficit. But it was to no avail as Ice Ninja goaltender Julie Campbell and her D stood them off. The Ice Ninjas’ goals came in the second period: Christina Jacobs from Anna Valk and Jenna Pate, and Valk from Pate. The Cougars’ goal came in the third period as Emily Gauthier scored from Amy Rivard and Sheila Leonard.
Ice Ninja goaltender Julie Campbell was happy with her team’s performance and with Dirty Thirty Ten. “The tournament was great fun again with lots of good competition, and we played well,” she said. “This is our first time to win the championship. Competition was excellent in every game.”
Cougars player Debbie Birmingham said the tournament was lots of fun and “well run as always by Michele Monson and Amy Finkbeiner. I hear they plan to expand the next year. That will be most welcome.”