Pittsburgh, PA held their third annual Zebra Cup May 16 - 18th. Five teams from Mid-Am competed and a team from Buffalo made their maiden trip.
While the hockey was fun and spirited, the annual picnic hosted by WPHOA (Western Pennsylvania Hockey Officials Association) http://www.wphoa.com/ was by far the event winner.
Starting @ 7:00 AM, Jack Hays (the local barbecue guru) had the ribs and polish sausage begin their slow smoking process. Somewhere around 10:00 AM the wings (more like chicken legs) began their transition in the smoker. A keg of Coors Light arrived shortly thereafter to settle down and chill to the perfect temperature.
This was no amateur barbecue. Look at the size of that smoker unit! The end unit is a warming stage. Hidden by the people standing around the 12 foot traveling barbecue, is a 4 foot by 2 foot grill.
So while we nibbled on a couple of styles of wings, burgers and hot dogs hit the grill. Oh, I forgot to mention the home made jalapeno poppers!!... Those peppers were the size of an average adults index finger. They were stuffed with some delicious concoction and wrapped in bacon. Talk about poppers, once consumed you were more worried about the next days poopers! But, the perfectly chilled Coors helped you forget about tomorrows burden.
As the burgers and dogs came off the grill, the mouth watering smell from a tin of smoking barbecued beans being removed from the smoker, created a line waiting for the first course of lunch.
The Polish sausage silently became the second course. Silent because those of us in the know, quietly ate all evidence of their existence. The challenge was to leave enough room for the third course still in the smoker. The RIBS.
Before the ribs came from the smoker, home made cookies and other deserts magically appeared.
One hockey player earned "Cookie" as his nickname last year, had secretly positioned himself to be the first to see the dessert delivery.
Within minutes, second and third trays, with various styles of cookies, were distributed from their hiding place. Before they could be fully consumed, another home made mouth watering dessert was uncovered. As the line formed around this dish, the smell of ribs on the grill filtered through the air.
Finally, the ribs were cut and made available. Everyone HAD to use two hands because the meat literally fell off the bone. The meat was so moist and oh,,, so flavorful. Jack's secret home made barbecue sauce, along with his home made salts, that he hand rubbed the ribs with, made the waiting for ribs worthwhile. A special thanks to Jack Hays for his efforts. This barbecue was not a last minute affair. Jack gave up playing hockey, to plan, buy and cook all the food we ate. For those who wish to thank Jack again, his email address is email@example.com.
If the ice had melted, and no hockey was played, the barbecue itself made this hockey tournament a success.
Stay tuned, the results of the on-ice portion of this tournament is coming.