The many local sports fans who attended the hockey showdown Saturday night between Peabody and Winthrop, the top two teams in the Northeastern Conference, saw an unlikely sight: The Vikings pulling their goaltender and leaving the net open for the last 32 seconds of the game with the scored tied at 0-0.
But coach Dale Dunbar, his staff, and his players, despite some audible gasps from fans along the lines of, "What are they doing?" knew exactly what they were doing. Because Peabody leads Winthrop in the race for the NEC title by three points, Dunbar knew that a tie might not be good enough for his team to have a chance to repeat as Northeastern Conference champion. Winthrop still would have been three points behind Peabody with only a few games left in the season.
So the coach and his Vikings made the only logical decision: They gambled and went for the victory. Sure, Peabody came within a few feet of scoring an open-net goal and winning the game in the final few seconds. But just before that, Winthrop also had a great chance and came within inches of scoring the go ahead goal.
Though the game ended in a 0-0 deadlock, the larger message is that Dunbar and the coaches and players felt that a tie wasn’t good enough. In our view, the entire Winthrop team learned a wonderful lesson in those final 32 seconds: If you want to be the best in something, then you have to give it your best shot.
After Saturday’s tremendous game, area hockey fans hope that Peabody and Winthrop will meet again in the State Tournament. With overtime in effect in the post-season, a winner will be determined the next time they should meet. Moreover, the effort turned in by Dunbar’s squad shows that Winthrop’s hockey tradition is alive and well and we urge fans to get behind this exciting team.
We’ll leave our readers with two thoughts that were apropos to this situation:
The first is a quote from General Douglas MacArthur, which our long time publisher Andrew P. Quigley often used in this context, when MacArthur was the Commandant at West Point: "On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory."
The other is this one, which ironically is attributed to a Navy football coach: A tie is like kissing your sister.