It’s a beautiful evening in Thunderbird Stadium, warm and sunny and calm. The stands are packed with a crowd so large it set a new MLU attendance record. And it’s not just any crowd, but one bolstered by hundreds of boisterous and knowledgeable players who are spending the weekend playing in the venerable Flower Bowl tournament for club teams being held on the UBC campus that also houses the stadium.
The Vancouver Nighthawks are playing the San Francisco Dogfish, who on their previous visit had beaten the home team with a literally last second goal. But in this game, time is running out in the first half, and Vancouver is leading 11-10 with the disc in Dogfish hands. The Nighthawks have not led at the half in any game against the Dogfish or the Seattle Rainmakers, the two playoff-bound teams, so they really want to keep their opponents from scoring to tie it up at the half.
The crowd is really fired up, already having witnessed two Double Happiness plays – a player gets a D block and immediately races to the end zone to receive a goal on a pass from his teammate who picked up the disc – by the Nighthawks and any number of great passes and D blocks by both teams during a spectacular display of Ultimate at its finest.
The Dogfish are patiently working it up the field, when suddenly…
I’ll let Nick Menzies take up the narrative.
“On the play, I knew they were going to need to score fast. I think we had about 26 seconds left when we pulled. I was covering Ashlin Joye, and got into a dangerous 1-on-1 situation where I was isolated, so I figured he would go deep for the goal, but he didn’t, so I looked for the under real hard. The throw was a slight break throw, but it wasn’t too snappy, which gave me the time I needed to accelerate into the play.”
“Once I got the block, I figured I would have an advantage, as in such a situation the blocked player usually isn’t super quick to switch modes back to defense. I often pick up the disc myself when I get a D block rather than running to the end zone, but I knew we had Prez [Aaron Liu], the Big Cat [Andy Collins], and some other huckers on the field with me. I also figured time was becoming a bit of an issue, and since we were pretty close to our own end zone I had some work to do. One thing I have found in my years of Ultimate is that it is impossible to score if you don’t run to the end zone…”
“As I was running I peeked over my right shoulder to look for the flick bomb, saw Collins with it, and went to our spot.”
“The catch was a little tricky because it was coming in kind of hot, and I was actually really tired at that point. It looked like my defender wasn’t reading it super well and I was going to just two hand it strong. The D player caught up really well at the end there but had to change which shoulder he was looking over, which makes it very tough to get an accurate read on a hammer. He may have touched it, but I went in strong to be sure.”
The subsequent standing ovation went on for what seemed like forever.
So there you have it; a Double Happiness involving a huge layout D block and an enormous hammer huck for a goal with no time left on the clock, creating a fan frenzy. I’m calling that a Triple Happiness!
For making this amazing play Menzies was rewarded by winning the MLU Defensive Play of the Week award. He gets $100 himself and will also be donating $100 to the Ultimate programme at Seycove Secondary School in North Vancouver.
Menzies and Collins and their teammates on the Nighthawks are heading to Portland on Saturday to try to continue their winning streak against the Stags. The game is at 7 pm and if you can’t be in the stands you will be able to watch a live stream here.
Then on the following Saturday night, June 22, the Nighthawks will be hosting their final home game of the season, which they are going to spice up with a pre-game celebration/tailgate party including food trucks, games, and an appearance by team mascot Hawkins and Nighthawks players. You can buy tickets here.