IGHL News: Last year’s champs ready to fight to defend their Cup
The Bad Cops are back in business! Today, at Bay City’s Elmo Jackson Memorial Center, last year’s Stan Lee Cup champions held their first official practice of the season. “The boys are looking good,” said Coach Harding Welsh. “[We have] some work to do before we gate to Atlantis next week. But you can be sure we’re gonna defend this Cup for you, Bay City.”
The “work” Welsh refers to may be an allusion to the so-called sophomore slump that often plagues Cup champions the next year. “Yeah, it can be tough,” admits top-line forward S. Ray Kowalski. This is his second Cup; he won in his rookie season with the Gotham City Vanguard. “It takes a lotta energy during playoffs. But you just gotta put it behind you, how tired you are, and just keep giving your best, eh?”
And Kowalski’s best is a lot better than most. Bay City’s top line has been touted as one of the most explosive in the league; the combination of left-winger Kowalski, right-winger Ray Vecchio, and their center, team captain Benton Fraser, has garnered media attention for clocking twice as many PIM (Penalty Infraction Minutes) as goals—and still leading their team to win their division, their conference, and the Cup.
“Benny’s always telling us not to fight,” smirks Vecchio. “But that’s just how we play. It’s not like, either-or, take shots at the net or drop the gloves. When we’re playing good, we’re fighting and shooting. That’s not how Benny is. But he’ll fight when the time comes. He’s tough. It’s just gotta be on his terms and nobody else’s.”
In past seasons, even-keeled Captain Fraser has added more to his line’s plus-rating than its PIM. Bad Cops fans have yet to see him drop the gloves in an official fight. When asked about his linemate’s chances of getting into a fight this season, Kowalski laughs. “Yeah, me and Vecchio got a bet on it. But I’m not telling you which side I’m on in case Frase reads this!”
It wouldn’t do for Fraser’s first IGHL fight to be with his own winger.
We asked defensive partners Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson to talk about bringing the Cup to Bay City. “It’s huge,” said Starsky, shaking his head. “Hutch and me, we grew up in this town. We played street hockey on the Boulevard. We used to sneak into the rink on Saturday mornings to watch the Bad Cops do optional skate!” He glances at his partner and grins. “Oops. I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
“Bringing the Cup to Bay City for the first time is a childhood fantasy come true,” says Hutchinson gravely. “We never dreamed we’d get this lucky.”
Luck is only part of it. Many consider Starsky and Hutch to be the best defensive pair the Bad Cops have ever had, perhaps among the best hockey has seen. “They’re special,” says Coach Welsh in the gruff way he has. “The Fraser line is special, too. I got a great team here.”
Perhaps this special Bad Cops team has what it takes to keep the Cup for a second year running. “We’ll see,” says Kowalski with a wink. “I wouldn’t bet against us.”
Tune in next Thursday for Bay City Bad Cops at Atlantis Puddlejumpers, 1930 local standard time.