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Part Three - Burlington, 1978 or Country vs Country

March 22nd, 2009 - By Sabre_in_Virginia

Sabre_in_Virginia It has been two years since I began this story. With the upcoming triple tournaments in Detroit, I thought I’d update this particular blog since at least a couple of the old-timers mentioned in my story will be competing in Detroit next week.

How good were the Americans back in the 1970s? Who were they? Where did they come from in the States? Who did they compete against in Canada? Are any of them still playing? Ditto for the Canadians?

Twenty-nine players began this tournament: six from the States, twenty-three from Canada. By Round Three, sixteen players remained in the hunt for the Championship. The Americans made up only 20% of that number. Of the original American contingent of six players they lost only one player. Eighty three percent (83%) of the Americans made it to Round Three. Of the original Canadian contingent of 23 players, only 47% (or 11 players) had advanced to Round Three. The Canadians lost their four-to-one player advantage.

In Round Three, there would be eight players each in two divisions. The players from both countries were split up. The players from the Canadian cities were divided up, but the American’s were not. They were in each division by city either by luck or by design we do not know.

This round would be the last round robin. Only the top four in each division would advance to the Quarterfinal series. Who would make table hockey (TH) history? Which country? Which city? Which league? Who among them would earn boasting rights for that tournament? And, who could again claim boasting rights and relive their memories of the tournament today, thirty-one years later?

Could the Americans, numerically the underdog advance against the Canadians without taking out their fellow Americans? Would the numerically superior Canadians take out the Americans to make it an all Canadian Finals? Could two Detroit players both placed in Division One advance against three players from Burlington, two from Toronto and one (John Beedham) from Brampton? Or would they knock each other out? In Division Two, could the three Chicago players somehow not knock one or more of their own out or somehow all move on to the next round?

Which of these country’s, which of their cities, which of these player’s would claim 1978’s Burlington International Tournament Championship?

Round Three – Last Round Robin
Four players from each division advance to the semi finals.

Division One

In Division One, of eight players, six of which were Canadian, Detroit’s Ivan Sanislo finished first, Mike Pope, Paul Tompkins and Bruce Borthwick all of Burlington, the tournament’s hometown, finished 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Of note: Detroit’s Sid Stutz finished fifth and just out of moving on to the next round, and John Beedman of Brampton who the Johnny Goodguy tournament 35 or so years running is named after also did not move to the next round.

A quote from the write up back then was,

“Before play even began in the division it seemed almost inevitable to most people that the two big guns from Burlington: Mike Pope and Paul Tompkins, and the two power-houses from Detroit: Sidney Stutz and Ivan Sanislo would be the ones to advance. This was not to be the case as a quiet underdog from Burlington named Bruce Borthwick (who plays sitting down) replaced Stutz in the 4th and final playoff spot, by beating him 4-1. But according to Stutz all was not lost as he went out in style giving Tompkins his first loss of the day.”-

probably written by Mike Pope.

Ivan Sanislo’s record: seven games played, five wins, one loss and one tie. His goals for average less than the next two finishers at 5.14 (theirs 6.71 and 6.42). But Ivan had the best defense in the division, a goals against average 2.14.

John Beedam did get in a victory against a playoff bound Bruce Borthwick. Sid Stutz missed the playoffs by a single point. Did that single point hinge on something dramatic? At cursory check of the statistics finds that drama as his fellow Detroiter Ivan Sanislo was tied by Bruce Borthwick, who beats out Sid by one point. Had Ivan beaten Bruce, Bruce and Sid would both have 30 points each. What were the tie-breakers at that tournament? Today, some tournaments use best goals against average. There Bruce had the advantage with a 2.85 GAA with Sid at 3.71 GAA. And, in head to head, Bruce still won out having beaten Sid 4-1.

As my story focuses on the Americans, of two Americans in this division both from Detroit, one moved on to the playoffs (50%). Of the six Canadians (three Burlington, two Toronto and one Brampton) all three from Burlington moved on to the playoffs (also 50%).

Division Two
In Division Two, as compared to Division One the roles were reversed: one Canadian, Paul Matthews, Burlington, finished first with an impressive record of seven games played, seven wins, zero losses and zero ties, and the best goals for average of the two divisions at 9.14 GFA and the second best goals against average at 2.42 GAA.

The Americans, all Chicagoans: Tom Bruno, Ron Marsik and Jerry March each with five wins, two losses and zero ties were tied up for the remaining three playoff positions. However, head-to-head competition could not determine order of finish, because each won a game against a fellow Chicagoan but lost to another. So a special playoff was conducted. In it, Tom Bruno beat both Ron Marsik and Jerry March to take second place.

Summary of Round Three

As stated earlier, forty seven percent of the Canadians made it to Round Three. Of the sixteen slots in Round Three, eleven Canadians filled sixteen slots. Coming out of Round Three, four or only 36% would advance to the playoffs. Of all the Canadian cities and towns represented, only the players from Burlington remained. They had come with ten players and now remained with four, forty percent of their original total to attempt to keep the title and the trophy in Burlington, in Canada.

Five of the six American entrants or eighty-three percent made it to Round Three. The question was asked earlier, “could they keep up that rate of advancement?” Of those five Americans, only one was eliminated. Put another way, 80% of the Americans advance, so the answer to the question is, yes. Of the Americans who began the tournament, zero from Buffalo, fifty percent of the Detroiters and 100% of the Chicagoans remained to try and wrest the title and trophy out of Burlington, out of Canada and back to the States.

Numerically, at the beginning of the tournament the Americans were outnumbered 23 to 6. Now they stood even at four Americans, four Canadians.

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