By Casey Wedge
Day 2 – Mid-Day Updates
The rink has been buzzing since the puck dropped at 6am for day two of the West Coast Winternationals. With midgets, mites, and juniors all starting, teams have been rolling in all morning and players and parents alike are very excited and a little anxious for games to get underway. Again as the day progresses a few teams in each division begin to emerge as the head of the pack.
With each mite team playing only one game earlier this morning it’s difficult to get a solid idea of who’s the front runner heading into the tourney. The Delta River Rats proved to be a top contender when they were matched up against the Hockey House Army (hailing all the way from Vancouver, BC) and defeated them 9-1. Following in the footsteps of the Delta River Rats just a few hours later, the Reebok Jr. Ducks Orange defeated the Jr. Thunder 8-0. Both teams came out with a game plan determined to win and demonstrated that they’re here to play hard. As mites kick-start tomorrow morning be sure to check back in for all updates on the division.
As round robin games came to an end in the squirt division the Jr. Thunder learned just how pivotal goals against can be in tournament hockey. In the final prelim game of the squirt division, the Jr. Thunder faced off against the Delta River Rats and with just a few minutes to go the Thunder were maintaining a 5-3 league. Suddenly with a quick turnover in the neutral zone and only 45 seconds to go the Delta River Rats scored making it 5-4. While still winning the game by a score of 5-4 the Jr. Thunder seeded 9th and the Revision Mustangs 01 teams squeaked into the playoffs in the 8th and final spot. With 25 goals for and only 4 goals against the Hockey House Army took 1st seed in the division and hopes to remain undefeated through the playoffs.
The peewee division teams made it through three of their four preliminary games yesterday and the Hockey House Army, NCR Tour Elite, and NorCal Extreme established themselves as the head of the pack finishing out the round robin games and heading into the playoffs. As peewee games are just about to get underway, teams are beginning to arrive at the rink and making pit stops in the Alkali, Reebok, Labeda, Tour, Rink Rat, and Revision booths checking out the hottest gear in the sport on the way to their locker rooms to mentally and physically prepare themselves for the tough games to come.
Bantams just finished out their round robin games and playoff seeds are set. Bantam Gold semi-finals consist of the first seed NCR Tour Elite 96’s (27GF, 3GA) matched up against the Thunder Rats (4th seed) and the KIHA Warriors will duel it out with Labeda XDH in the 2nd vs. 3rd game. The Bantam Silver semi-final games played out to be the Mission/Bauer Raiders against the Reebok Jr. Ducks and Rampage Alpha playing NCR Tour Elite 97’s. All the bantam teams are done for the day looking to rest up, recuperate, and rehydrate before the playoff games first thing in the morning.
Midgets kicked off the morning with Labeda XDH defeating the Chico Firebirds 5-0 in the first game of the division. With most teams playing only a single game so far it’s hard to tell, but the Revision Vanquish seems to be the favorite heading into the tournament defeating Public Enemy 8-0 earlier this morning in just under 7 minutes. Vanquish controlled the puck for the entire game and didn’t allow a single good scoring opportunity.
In the junior division the Mission/Bauer AZ Outcasts came out swinging, winning their first game 9-1. The teams composed primarily of top players from the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL) with a few guys from Arizona State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UNLV, and UC Santa Barbara. Outcasts team member, Paul Linder (#27) hopes to “hold it down” and win out the rest of their games.
With more midget, men’s silver, men’s gold, and men’s platinum, women’s and girls, along with NARCh Pro still to come, day two’s only getting busier and busier. Alkali RPD’s defenseman Travis Noe said, “With only 6 teams in the Pro division every prelim game is a grind for the teams trying to earn a playoff spot or the top seed. Getting that first seed is crucial when you go straight to the semis. Should be a battle today.” NARCh Pro player, Itan Chavira feels that his team, the Pama Cyclones, “need to come together and remember that Pro’s all about patience and finishing opportunities,” as he prepares for their match up with the Las Vegas Tour Rebels in a must win game.