20 championships – 20 years – 20 minutes

It’s hard to believe that we have over 20 championship games today.  That’s a new record.  We usually try to stagger them a bit and get a few done on Saturday, but it just didn’t work out this tournament.  We start the morning with continuous semi-final games and in about 4 hours it will be nothing but championships running at the same times on multiple rinks.  

I’m sure the action will be intense and we’ll have many dramatic finishes today.   I hope I’m lucky and get to see a lot of the great finishes.  With 3 rinks running at the same time with equally important games it will be impossible to catch it all. 

Today the floors are dry, so if we run late it’s because we had some great overtime games and probably shootouts, which is very likely.   This is the only thing I’m really ok with in terms of a reason for being late.  It’s an indication that the games were great and teams competitive.

Most people are unaware of fact that NARCh is 20 years old this season.  Pretty incredible, considering that the majority of players in this tournament were not even born yet.   

The first year of NARCh I was just playing.  The second year I played as well, but also became an employee.   We used an addition off-site rink in St. Louis and I was the tournament director at that rink.  I also refereed many of the games. 

Vic Zuniga and I were discussing the 1994 FINALS briefly on Friday.  There are only a handful of people that were around then that are still a part of the sport.   Vic and Scott from AKS are the only two people at this tournament I can think of that go all the way back.   Vic has been an incredibly important part of NARCh and it’s history, so if you’re lucky enough to have him working your games you should be appreciative.  

It also should be noted that Scott has been on the bench for a ton of games this weekend and he’s on the bench right now at 7am as I’m typing.  Scott doesn’t age. I think he’s like Benjamin Button.   He loves the sport and the rewards that coming with coaching kids and watching them develop.   The AKS program has been an important part of NARCh since day 1.

It felt like I only got 20 minutes of sleep last night, but it was more like 4 hours, which isn’t that bad.  A weekend like this you can sort of power through, since it’s only a few days.  The intensity at the rink and running around the rink keeps your adrenaline high.  You don’t have time to get tired.

Last night I was going to leave around 11.  I’d be on my way out the door and see the teams playing a tight finish and I just couldn’t leave.  Then I’d be on the way out the door and see the next teams getting on and want to catch a little.  It’s a viscous cycle and didn’t want to miss anything I’d only hear about the next day.

Then about midnight I realized that Greg Martin would be taking the rink.  Greg is a very valued employee here at the rink and I know he loves to look at the NARCh Pictures on the Internet, so I thought he would appreciate it if I stayed and caught a few shots of him playing. 

Once I started shooting I saw that Brett Shahian was on the same team.  Brett and I played ice together a few seasons back, another great guy.   I was above their bench shooting and realized they also had some Japanese Players that are on basically a North American Hockey Tour.  They’re friends with Koji Ichinomiya.  Koji brings teams to NARCh every summer and is a great ambassador of the sport.  Any friend of Koji’s is a friend of mine!

To top it all off Nick Dowling and Angel Rios were also on the team.   Nick was smart and lucky enough to incorporate his passion with his job and is the brand manager for Rink Rat Wheels.  Angel was in net playing goalie at the other end.  It’s the only time this weekend that I haven’t heard him yapping.  

Needless to say, I enjoyed chirping the guys a little on their bench from above and taking pictures of them, even if it was 1am.

If you’re at the rink and know my wife Tanya please wish her a happy birthday!  She turns 30 today J  She’s an incredible wife and mother and without her behind the scenes NARCh wouldn’t be what it is.

With all going on, this is probably the last time you’ll hear from me in the form of a blog.  Casey Wedge will keep updates going as divisions finish.

Thanks for playing NARCh and good luck today if you’re playing!