The Hamilton Pistols won their second straight Vandy this season. And the team had a very clear idea how they wanted to celebrate: “We want to share this trophy with our fans,” said RW Claude Lafayette. “And we want to drink as much as we can while doing it.”
So far, the Pistols are living up to Lafayette’s goals. There’s hardly a bar, nightclub, public park, or civic event this summer that the Pistols haven’t brought the Vandy to. They’ve drank, danced, sung, and partied their way around the Greater Toronto Area, and the players and fans are thoroughly enjoying themselves so far.
“It’s been one crazy never-ending party so far,” said C Calvin Frye. “I was worried about some of our guys at first. But we’re staying hydrated and pacing ourselves just enough so that we can keep it going. So far, so good!”
The Pistols said their victory party was inspired the NHL’s Washington Capitals, who became famous for their highly public and booze-fueled celebration of their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. “They really redefined the standard for the party game,” said Lafayette of the Caps. “They were definitely an inspiration to us. Last year, when we won, we were too tired to really let it loose. But this time, we knew we wanted to take it to the next level.”
The party began with the championship parade, which drew tens of thousands to downtown Hamilton to cheer on their heroes. The Pistols stood atop double-decker buses, waving and throwing tchotchkes to the fans. The parade route ended at Gunpowder Armory, where the fans packed in to listen to the players make giddy speeches and lead cheers.
“Winning our first Vandy was an incredible experience,” said LW Steven Alexander, “but it was damn hard work, and we were pretty tired afterward. But you guys, with your cheers and your total support, you gave us the energy to go out and win it again. This title is for you!”
Alexander also took a shot at the Pistols’ rival, the New York Night, and longtime antagonist and now-former coach Nick Foster. “You guys might remember that clown down south of the border, the one who kept talking crap about me, about us,” Alexander shouted, as boos rained down from the fans. “He kept saying his team was better than ours, their arena was better than ours, their fans were better than ours. Well, guess what? We just went back-to-back, and he just got fired. Scoreboard, Nick!”
The parade was hardly the end of the celebration, however. Reports began popping up on social media of various Pistols showing up at local restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, often with the Vandy in tow. One night, Alexander, Frye, Lafayette, and the trophy showed up unannounced at a bar called Skipper Harry’s on the waterfront. Alexander jumped up on top of the bar and shouted that he was buying a round for everyone in the house. He then had the bartender fill the bowl in the center of the trophy with beer, which he chugged. After leading the bar in a round of “We Are the Champions,” Frye and Lafayette carried the Vandy around the beer, giving patrons a chance to snap selfies and, in some cases, replicate Alexander’s beer chug.
A couple days later, Ds Hercules Mulligan and Clayton Risch were spotted carrying the Vandy down Locke Street, pausing frequently for selfies and high-fives with fans. Mulligan also carried a duffel bag filled with Pistols hats and T-shirts, and he tossed one to every person he spotted wearing Toronto Maple Leafs gear, shouting, “How’d you like to cheer for a winner for a change?” (The Maple Leafs have not won a championship since 1967.)
On another occasion, several players were taking a mini-bus to a nightclub when Alexander spied someone on the street wearing a shirt created by a Pistols fan blog. The shirt featured the Pistols’ gunsight log, with a silhouette of the Vandy replacing the customary “H”. Beneath the logo, the shirt read “We’ve Got Another Title In Our Sights.” Alexander told the driver to stop the bus, then rushed out and greeted the surprised fan. “That shirt is awesome! Want to trade with me?” The fan agreed, whereupon Alexander whipped off his shirt, autographed it, and handed it to the fan. He then posted for a picture before hopping back on the bus.
The sightings continued on a daily basis over the next two or three weeks, as the Pistols kept appearing, flashing their hardware, drinking and dancing and singing with anyone who wanted to join in.
“They basically took the celebration and turned it into a rolling, never-ending street party,” said coach Keith Shields. “They know how essential the fans are to our success, and they want to share that joy together. I think it shows how special the bond is between our team and the city. We’re all going to have memories to last a lifetime.”