12u and 16u Recaps from the NARCh FINALS in Irvine, CA
12u and 16u West Coast NARCh Finals Championship Recaps
By: Raine Hernandez
It has been a day since the Tour Road Runners captured their first ever NARCh Pro title, which also means that the busiest part of any NARCh Finals has been completed. With that being said, on the fourth day here in Irvine, plenty of divisions were wrapping up, highlighted by a long list of entertaining hockey games in the 16u and 12u divisions.
12u Platinum – Angry Ducks 06 vs. NorCal Jokers (163)
It was clear who was the favourite in the 12u Platinum division, and that was the Angry Ducks 06. The Angry Ducks were dominant in round robin play, going undefeated with a 4-0 record, and outscoring their opponents 35-5, something unheard of in the Platinum division, even crazier considering they only consist of a roster of 5 players and a goaltender.
Their pure dominance would continue in the playoffs, easily defeating the North Shore Zulu 8-3 in the semi-finals and would not stop there when they challenged the Mission Renegades in the championship game. In the finals, the Angry Ducks pulled off the 8-0 mercy, proving to be one of the greatest Platinum team performances in recent memory.
Despite their dominance offensively, Angry Ducks goaltender Trevor Torres was perfect whenever called upon, becoming the tournament’s top goalie in the division. Aidan Yi was named game MVP after netting a hat-trick and an assist in the finals, and also took home the High Scorer award, leading the tournament in points, average a whopping 4 a game.
12u Gold – HB Militia vs. Konnix Outcasts Yellow (160)
Unlike the Platinum division, the 12u Gold division was a battle between both goaltenders as the HB Militia and the Konixx Outcasts Yellow dueled for the Gold division. In round robin when the two teams met earlier in the tournament, Konixx came away with the 4-3 win, in what was one of the closest games that the division played in, meaning the Militia were looking to avenge their only loss of the tournament.
Outcasts goaltender Jonah Benkel and Militia goaltender Zaden Ollom were solid, playing at the top of their games in order to keep their team in the hockey game. With the game tied at 1, both teams were dying to convert on a bad break and give themselves the advantage, when suddenly Kade Pareja finally broke the 1-1 tie to give the Outcasts the lead.
Jason Casillas added to the lead off a pass from Pareja, clinching the gold championship. Pareja was named MVP due to his big-time goal, while Benkel was named goalie of the tournament.
12u Silver – Angels vs. Mission Renegades A (174)
“Allez les bleus!” was something that was heard throughout ‘The Rinks’ in Irvine, as the Angels from France squared off against the Mission Renegades ‘A’ for the 12u Silver championships. The Angels were looking to follow in the footsteps from the 16u team, as they defeated Pure Maple to win the 16u Silver division.
When the two teams played against one another in the round robin, the Angels defeated the Renegades 5-3, which meant that it would get even tougher for the Angels this time around, due to the high stakes that was on the line.
After one period of play, the Renegades found themselves with a 3-1 lead, looking to just hold on for one more period, and they would have the trophy within their sights. Despite having a period that was not up to their standards, the French stormed back with goals to even the score at 3 and send the game into overtime.
The man who stole the show was Renegades goaltender Pete Gonzalez and Angels goaltender Faust Venin. Gonzalez made an incredible 25 saves and did everything in his power to keep his team in it, especially in overtime. However, halfway into the extra period, Glenn Venin scored the overtime winner as the Angels won their second title at the WC NARCh Finals.
12u Club – Colorado Stallions vs. San Jose AIM (177)
Meanwhile, the Colorado Stallions were looking to win in the 12u Club division, as they would play San Jose AIM in the championship. When the Stallions played San Jose AIM in the round robin, they ended up with the 5-2 loss.
This meant that revenge was on the line, and what better way to avenge a loss than to win in the championship game?
After Ethan Crosby scored at the near-end of the first to give his Stallions a 2-1 lead, it was lock-down mode for them right after. Led by goaltender Blake Menrad, the Stallions eliminated all of San Jose’s opportunities, and held on for the 3-1 victory after a late goal from Braylon Green.
16u Platinum – Sour Skittles vs. Tour Road Runners 02 (169)
It was a back and forth battle between the Sour Skittles 02’s and the Tour Road Runners. Their high-level skill was the controlling factor into how the hockey game shaped up.
A good ol’ fashioned barn-burner.
After a rather defensive first period from both sides, the flood gates opened, and both the Skittles and the Road Runners fired shots into the net. In the beginning of the second, Braden Mayer scored his second goal of the game, and shortly after, Clay Bozanich wired his wrist-shot low-blocker to give the Skittles the lead.
The Skittles would not stop the pressure, when Bozanich set up both Mayer (to complete the hat-trick) and Anthony Dvideo, increasing their lead to 5-2 with 6 minutes remaining. Not wanting to go away, the Road Runners did all they could to get back into the hockey game, not 2 minutes later, Frankie Jirak scored his second of the game, and then with 2:28 left in regulation, Miles Harrington blasted one past Ethan Valentine to make it a 1-goal game.
However, the Skittles would maintain their lead and take home the 16u Platinum championship, holding on to the 5-4 victory. Mayer took home the High Scorer award for having 2.16 point-per-game average, while Bozanich was named MVP for his three-point performance.
16u Gold – Bend Bullets vs. Konixx Outcasts 02 (166)
The 16u Gold Final turned out to be the complete opposite from the Platinum championship, as the Konixx Outcasts 02 were in a date for the title against the Bend Bullets. Noe Santos and Austin Pacewic’s goals would be the only goals of the hockey game, which was a showcase of how disciplined Nick Boyarsky had coached this team defensively.
Darrion DeShong shut the door between the pipes as the Outcasts would hold on for the Gold championship. Despite the loss, Bullets goaltender Luke Neilson was solid in both the finals and throughout the tournament, winning top goaltender and finishing the tournament with a .912 save percentage. On the other hand, Noe Santos took the high scorer and also the game MVP award, as his goal was the game-winner.
16u Silver – Pure Maple vs. Angels B (142)
The only championship in the tournament that was alongside Pro on Sunday night was the 16u Silver game between Pure Maple and the Angels. Any game that featured the Angels seemed to be a high-scoring hockey game, and it was no different when they battled against the Canadians in the championship game.
A total of 7 goals was scored in the first period, with Pure Maple carrying the 1-goal lead at the end of it all.
Momentum would shift in the second period towards the Angels, when they would score early into the second to tie the game at 4, after Joao Perez scored his second of the game. The Angels would later score 2 more to take the lead and later, the Silver championship.
Despite the rough first period, Angels goaltender Male Hallards turned into a brick wall in the second period, not allowing a single goal to continue his dominance in the division. Hallards finished as the top goalie in the division with a save percentage of .913.
16u Club – AKS 03 vs. Labeda Jets (180)
In the club division, the AKS 03’s was playing the Labeda Jets in an all-California matchup to decide who would bring back home the NARCh Cup. Both teams did not play in the round robin, meaning it would turn out to become an unpredictable matchup.
Both teams were evenly matched with errors meaning much more costly if one were to make one. In the first period, it would the Jets who would get on the board first when Jacob Ochoa tallied one past Timo Schmitt to give the Jets the 1-0 lead. AKS would storm right back after Cameron Brodeur scored just a minute later to even the score up at 1.
It would be the second period that caught everyone’s attention.
Ezrah Porter was the first one to get on the board in the second period, giving AKS their first lead of the game. Their lead did not last very long however, as shortly after Michael Fogg-Martinez and Richard Regaldo wired shots past Schmitt to regain the lead. The Jets were just 4 minutes away from a NARCh Championship, all they had to do was just hold on for 4 more minutes.
The Jets had killed 3:56 seconds of that time before Porter would come to the rescue and tie the game at 3 with only 4 seconds left in regulation time. Following that incredible goal to send the game into overtime, it was clear that there was nothing that would get into AKS’ way to the title, as Tyler McGowan would complete the comeback, scoring the game-winner in overtime to give AKS, the 16u Club title.