The Vermont Lumberjacks Premier team and the St. Lawrence Lions from Quebec City, Quebec played in an exhibition game on Wednesday Jan 6, 2016 that will forever be known as the 'Champlain Showdown.'
The atmosphere in Leddy Arena the morning of Jan 6 was that of a spring morning despite the cold temperatures. A bright sunrise shone as a metaphor of impending success and excitement accompanying the new year, and opportunities to be successful were on the minds of some young players. The two teams, the Lions and Lumberjacks, had not met before, their seasons do not coincide, and points were not on the line. All that lay before these two clubs was the opportunity to play hockey in the spirit of how hockey was meant to be played, as well as the chance to iron out some holiday break wrinkles.
“It’s a good thing and a good time, there are no points on the line, it will be a fun game," Head Coach Doc DelCastillo said. "It will be competitive, they have a good program, and it is good for us to come back off of holiday beak, have a practice and get right into a game situation.”
Assistant Coach of the Lions, Mike Labadie, shared a similar sentiment.
“Playing US junior teams is always an exciting challenge. It's an up-tempo physical brand of hockey that tests you every shift. It will be good preparation for the Lions before we resume league action this the weekend. This is an excellent opportunity to build inter-league exchanges that will provide exposure on both sides of the border for all teams," Labadie said.
The game itself was fast paced, hard hitting, and as entertaining and exciting to watch as any regular season hockey game, which is exactly what both sides wanted in order to best prepare their clubs for the rigors of the second half of the season.
The game resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Lions, but in the spirit of the game, the two coaches decided to do a ceremonial shootout, and after the handshakes, the St. Lawrence Lions were given a Vermont Lumberjacks Official Game Puck, as well as the Lumberjacks best wishes.