Liberace Outmuscles Sinatra!

What does it mean to be a man? Or to be a strong woman in a world where men grapple with the definition of manliness? These are just some of the questions that only The Greatest Hockey Tournament On Earth tackles.

The theme of KJAM7 was “Get Lucky.” It featured captains who had played in the Jamboree but never won. Each was overdue, but only one of Josh Laboucane, Erin Gillies, Glen McRae, Jon Carlson, Jason Cross or Doug Yee would get lucky this year. The rest would have to wait. Team names were pulled from people who made Las Vegas famous: the entertainers Sinatra, Liberace, Charo and Siegfried & Roy, and the two gangsters who brought gambling and organized crime to Las Vegas: Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel.

Liberace Wins!

KJAM7 winners Liberace: (back row) Ian McKinnon, Kevin McKinnon, Craig Barschel, Glen McRae (C) Hugh Kerr, Craig Campbell, Rick Wiltse, Marty Lynch, Sean Sicotte (front row) Dan Rude, Paul Morely, Shaun Ellard, Andrew Pelletier, Ryan Tate

This year’s Jamboree was well fought with Sinatra and Liberace battling it out in the final. Laboucane’s Sinatra looked the early odds on favourite to win, rolling over Siegel on the Friday night game. Many assumed they would cruise to victory, but like most years at The Kaslo Jamboree, the early story line didn’t hold up.

Francis Albert (Frank) Sinatra and Wladziu Valentino Liberace (just Liberace) were two wildly successful entertainers of the same era (born within four years of each other) who helped put Las Vegas on the map. In addition to being piano-playing crooners who made it big in Vegas, both were children of Italian immigrants. The comparisons end there, however. One was a man’s man who projected an aura of toughness, boasting mafia connections, and the other was a flamboyant personality famous for being only the second celebrity to contract and die of AIDS.

In the final game on Sunday Liberace outmuscled Sinatra in a headline that couldn’t have been written 25 years ago. With all due respect to Laboucane’s excellent second place team, some headlines write themselves and this was one. Through the lens of just a little time, it’s clear that Liberace was the bigger, braver man.

Liberace captain Glen McRae claimed to have prophesized the victory. “Many years ago I had a vision of leading a team of men dressed in pink uniforms to victory in a battle under the name of a gay piano player. When I drew the name Liberace I knew this was my year. I want the world to know that I asked for – no, I demanded – the pink jerseys. It was my destiny and I would not be denied.”

Liberace started the final quickly, going up 5-2 in the first period. They staved off a brief 2-goal Sinatra comeback and then seemed to gain momentum from a big glove save from rookie goalie Shaun Ellard to finish the game 7-4.

This year’s Rookie of The Year trophy went to Lansky’s Orion Cooper. Best Goalie went to winner Shaun Ellard, and MVP, which is calculated based on player performance relative to draft position, went to Liberace’s Paul Morely who scored two goals in the final. The Off-Ice Leadership Award went to Sinatra captain Josh Laboucane who provided a lesson on chemistry-building and leadership that will be studied for years in circles beyond hockey. Who knew?

Rick Wiltse continues to set the pace having now won the Colander Cup four times in seven years. Will anybody ever catch him? Sean Sicotte, Ian McKinnon and Ryan Tate each won it for the second year in a row.

Special mentions must go to rookies Vicki Hughes who only three months ago was giving birth, Mel Bryce, Conrad Watt and Dan Rude (who also scored in the final). Stellar performances were also put in by rookies Sam Webber and Cole Arcurri as well as Casey Jones, Chad Jones, Cody Halleran, Eric Early and others.

Congratulations to Al Webber who won the $2,500 arena 50/50 prize. Al’s sons Sam and Luke both played this year. Spencer Davie won new front teeth with his good friend Peter Reimer pulling the winning ticket.

Thank you to everyone who makes KJAM possible: beer gardens manager Andrea Hand and her colleague Meara, RJ Warren and his reffing team who come up from Nelson to help us out every year, John Cathro and Ian McKinnon for officiating the Friday night game, Biarki and Colette for time-keeping, Barry and Curtis for the great work at the arena, Yogi for being our DD this year, Jeff Davie for the in-game music and Colin Biggar for the tunes upstairs, Randy Morse for the stellar national anthem before the final, Tom, John & Susan Eckland and the staff at the Kaslo hotel for their organization support and for hosting the party on Saturday night, Aaron and his family for running the concessions, the other Aaron (Mathers) for hosting all the KJAM planning meetings that happen throughout the year at Buddy’s, The Kaslo Jamboree Organizing Committee and Cyber Crimes Unit: John Cathro, Blair Enns, Cal Walker, Shad Wilson & Rick Wiltse and everyone else who offers their help, suggestions and support in so many different ways. Thank you for making The Kaslo Jamboree The Greatest Hockey Tournament on Earth. Keep coming back.

This Christmas we’re all thinking about our dear friend and family member Tammy Grant whom we tragically lost earlier this year. We miss you, Tammy.

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