By Chad Spezia
We are wrapping up Day 6 here at the Narch Finals, and there was definitely not a shortage of entertaining moments.
The Squirt and Bantam Gold divisions wrapped up today, while Midget and Junior Gold have officially taken off. Pewee Gold finished off a fiercely competitive round robin and are now awaiting their playoff games tomorrow.
The first Squirt Gold semifinal featured the Revision Puckhogs and Mission Bauer Raiders Grey. The Puckhogs would get out to an early lead and never look back. The Raiders would score a couple late goals but it wouldn’t be enough to take out the highest remaining seed. The divisions top scorer would have a handful of goals in the game and the Revision Puckhogs would take the semifinal by a score of 5-3.
The other Squirt Gold semifinal held the Sherwood Park Bullfrogs, hailing from Alberta, and Arizona’s AZ Groove. There are a lot of cool looking jerseys at the Narch Finals, but the Groove sweater happens to be one of my favorites. They won the battle of the uniforms however, the Bullfrogs jumped all over the Groove when it came time to drop the puck. Sherwood Park won the game 6-1 and would go on to meet the Revision Puckhogs in the Squirt Gold Finals. The Revision Puckhogs program has had a very successful tourney and would add the squirt gold cup to their collection and the Bullfrogs would have to settle for taking silver back to Alberta. The AZ Groove took the bronze medal over the Raiders Grey.
I know that one thing that NARCh takes a lot of pride in is seeding from the regionals to create parity when it comes to the FINALS. I was working the boards inputing the scores, so a few things stood out to me. For example, in the peewee gold division there were 20 games played and only two games were really lopsided, resulting in a mercy rule. More impressive than that was the bantam division, where every single game in the division seemed to be close. There were 18 preliminary games on not a single game resulted in a mercy rule.
Once I noticed this I was even more interested in watching how it would all play out. The #3 seeded Notion took on the lowest seeded St. Louis Mavericks. I remember some of the Mavericks being at our regional in Detroit as it was hilarious when they picked up a teen age guy off the streets of Detroit and talked him into coaching on the bench. For that reason this teams stuck in my head over some of the teams I’ve never seen before from the West Coast.
With a short bench, the Mavericks upset Notion 3-2 to advance to the semifinals where the Tour Roadrunners were waiting for them. The other Bantam Gold playoff game featured the Sherwood Park Bullfrogs and the NorCal Extreme. The Bullfrogs were victorious but once again only winning by a one goal margin, advancing to the semifinal to take on #2 seeded Mission Bauer Raiders.
The semifinals were both very close games once again. Mission Bauer defeated the Sherwood Park Bullfrogs by pitching a goose egg with a 2-0 final score. The penalty boxes definitely had some activity at the end of the game. The other Bantam semifinal was probably the best game of the day in my opinion. You don’t see too many 1-1 roller hockey games. Both goalies played phenomenal from start to finish. The Mavericks fell into a box in overtime due to what looked like fatigue. The Roadrunners game plan of shooting the puck proved to work as they marched on to the final with a 2-1 overtime victory.
The Bantam Gold final was another goaltenders battle. A 1-1 game in roller hockey is definitely rare, but a shutout happens once every blue moon. Mission Bauer hoisted the cup after a 3-0 win over the Roadrunners. This game topped off what I think has been the most competitive division yet.
Check back for highlights of Day 7 tomorrow. It should be an exciting day with Pewee Gold playoffs as well as Midget and Junior Gold Games!