By Lonny Lovins
We will get going with our NARCh finals wrap up by starting with Saturday’s action into Sunday’s finale.
The Women’s division is always one of our most competitive divisions. While round robin is done a little differently than our other divisions, it usually ends with a pretty strong final for the Gold and Platinum gals. After a strong preliminary round, our Platinum and Gold seeds were set. The Revision Vanquish would cruise to the #1 seed by winning all 4 of their round robin games without surrendering a goal. The #2 seed would be Dangl Los Angeles, who also won all of their games. While these two teams played strong the rest of the division was a lot closer, and some crafty work on the seeding would need to be done. When the dust settled, our 3rd seed would be the Tour Roadrunners, and the Tour Mudcats would round out our Platinum playoffs by capturing the 4th seed.
Our first Playoff game for the Platinum women would pit the Revision Vanquish against the Tour Mudcats. As I stated earlier, the Revision Vanquish didn’t surrender a goal in their first 4 games. The Vanquish got on the board first late in the 1st period, and the way that they had been playing, it seemed as if that might be enough. The Vanquish would get on the board again about halfway through the 2nd, and it looked as if they would cruise to another victory. However, the Mudcats had other ideas, as they would get on the board less than 30 seconds later. The Mudcats would score the equalizer about a minute later, and we would have a sprint to the finish. The Vanquish would score again with about 4 minutes left in the game, and again the Mudcats would be pushing to try and find an equalizer. The equalizer would come with less than a minute to play on a mad scramble by the net. We would head to overtime. The women would play tough in OT playing back and forth for nearly half a period. In the 7th minute of OT, the Mudcats would complete the comeback, score the game winner and punch their ticket to the final.
In the other semi-final for the Women’s Platinum division, we would see the Roadrunners play against Dangl Los Angeles. The goaltenders would play star in this game, as our first goal would not come until midway through the 2nd period. The Roadrunners would score that goal, and cling to the lead for roughly 7 minutes. Dangl would get on the board with about 4 minutes left in regulation on a set play that worked in their favor. The momentum seemed to swing at this point as the Roadrunners seemed a little nervous, throwing shots over the net, and missing passes that they had been making all tournament with ease. Dangl kept the pressure on and would score with roughly 2 minutes left. That is all that it would take, as Dangl held on to the puck the rest of the way and claimed the 2nd spot in the final.
Our Women’s Platinum final had a little of everything as the Mudcats and Dangl Los Angeles took to the floor. The Mudcats got on the board a minute into the game as it seemed like they were still riding the wave of excitement they had from semi-final stunner. Dangl, with a little magic of their own would tie the game a few minutes later. The goaltenders played exceptionally well in this game kicking away shot after shot. Dangl played strong, but they could not put anything past the Mudcat netminder. The tie would be broken late in the 1st period with the Mudcats putting another tally on the board with less than a minute to play. Dangl would score less than a minute into the 2nd period showing everyone in the building how well they could deal with adversity. The women would play tied for another half of a period until the Mudcats would find way to put the puck in the net with 6 minutes left in the game. Dangl would push and push and push, even having a goal waived off late on a play where the goaltender was unable to make a save due to a player being in the way. That would be Dangl’s last chance as the Mudcats would smother them the rest of the way, and claim the gold medal. The Roadrunners would round out our top 3 with a bronze medal performance.
Men’s Platinum didn’t have as many teams as they have had in the past, however, they still provided some of the best action in the tournament.
After the round robin games, we would have 4 strong teams vying for the prize. #1 would be the Pama Cyclones, #2 Philadelphia Liberty, #3 PA Inferno, and rounding out our top 4 would be the Labeda MKS out of Colombia.
Our Platinum semi-finals would be hard fought close affairs in every way. The first game would see the Pama Cyclones against the scrappy MKS team. This game would be a game of control and a few mistakes that would result in big goals. Pama would get on the board first 10 minutes into the 1st period on a powerplay goal. MKS would push on the Cyclones after giving up the 1st goal, until they finally pushed hard enough to cause a turnover in the corner which would end up in the Cyclone net. The 1st period would end with the score tied. MKS would start the 2nd period hot, as they would win the face off and take the puck immediately down the rink to score a goal 15 seconds in. Pama would throw a ton of pucks at the net, and after hitting many posts, they would finally tie the game with roughly 2 minutes left. We would go to OT once again. OT would not last long, as Pama put the MKS defense to the test, and break them with a goal barely a minute into the period.
The second Men’s Platinum game would give us a show by two teams from the City of Brotherly love. Inferno and Liberty would show us strong Pennsylvanian hockey from beginning to end. Inferno would get on the board twice in the 1st period playing to the weaknesses they could find in the Liberty game. We would go into the 2nd period with what looked like a game that was well in hand for the Inferno. Inferno would add a quick goal to go up 3-0 early in the 2nd. Liberty would regroup and push the pace, as their big players would find the net 3 times in the final 10 minutes of the 2nd to send us to another overtime. Inferno wouldn’t take too much time to end this game, as they scored 50 seconds into the extra frame to catapult themselves into the final against Pama.
The platinum final was a doozy, as the Inferno continued their early game/period dominance and scored less than a minute into the game. The game would be back and forth after that point, and we would be treated to scoring chance after scoring chance. The goaltenders would be up to the challenge until late in the period when the Cyclones would tie the score. The 2nd period would be filled with fireworks as Pama would score 3 goals in a minute and a half. It would prove to be all Pama would need. Inferno would add a goal late in the game, but it was too little too late, as Pama would take another gold medal.
45+ Division had a couple of really strong teams that cruised through the tournament to the final. 7 old fat guys (best name in the tournament), played against Team Alkali in a really good final.
Team Alkali would open the scoring midway through the 1st period on a clever play, where a missed back check turned into a break away. 7 old fat guys would score 30 seconds later to make it a game. Alkali wouldn’t let them keep the tie for long, as they would score another 30 seconds later. The game would become grindy after this point as neither team wanted to give in. With about 6 minutes left in the game, Alkali would score an insurance goal. While 7 old fat guys would score late to make the game interesting again, it would be to no avail. The game and the gold would go to Alkali.
The 35+ division played out in a very similar way, as the Rockets and team Labeda would ride their roster of former pros and big goaltending to the final.
Labeda would come out strong picking up 3 goals quickly. The Rockets would put in a goal to make it 3-1. That is as close as this game would get, as Labeda would add 2 more goals and cruise in the 2nd period. The Rockets would try to mount a late come back by pulling their goaltender, but Labeda’s goaltender would be equal to the task. The Rockets got a couple of goals late, but the hole was too deep. Team Labeda would skate to an easy gold by the score of 7-3.