Our only Regional Qualifier in Georgia is in the books. With two rinks to get through our 52 games it was a nice to not have to wake up before the sun and leave after midnight, which is often the case with our tourneys. I would have loved to have more teams, but I enjoyed the rare full night sleep on a tournament night.
We saw some great games, especially on championship Sunday. While only one needed overtime to settle, many were tight games right to the end. Here’s how the weekend played out.
CUBS – For a second straight year we’ve had a cub division for this tournament. I touched on it in my Saturday Blog since all the games were played Saturday. In the end everyone left sweaty, smiling, and have a killer medal to put in their trophy case.
ATOM DIVISION – 3 pretty evenly matched teams made up the atoms, the Jr. Gladiators, McDonough Lizard Kings, and PBC Predators. The Predators barely missed being in the championship, but they did manage to tie both the Gladiators and Lizard Kings 1 of the 2 times they played them. The Lizard Kings beat the Jr. Gladiators twice in the prelims, but the championship would be a different story.
Both teams have stand out players but I will say that the better players weren’t selfish as you often see with very young teams. Sometimes it’s a case of “Give it to Johny and watch him go” but even the better players tried to pass and make the smart hockey play, which was equally encouraging and surprising. Having said that, one player did stand out in this game and that was #46 for the Jr Gadiators, George Goodwin. He’s scored 8 of the 9 Gladiator goals and they went on to revenge the two prior losses to the Lizard Kings and win gold by a final of 9-3.
MITE DIVISION – This was a 5-team division that would play a round robin format, with the top two seeded into the gold final, while 3rd and 4th would play for silver. The PBC Predators are the newest club and they took their lumps a few games, but they had great attitudes and gained a lot of experience and will come back next tourney even more prepared.
I can’t quite figure out what happened with the Sting. I didn’t watch them much in the round robin but in the silver championship against the McDonough Lizard Kings they looked very strong. I know that they had players also playing up in the 12u, but when it came time for this game the Lizards Kings were just outmatched and the Sting cruised to the silver title.
Mite gold between the Alkali Dragons and Jr Gladiators was one of our best championships of the day. #1 for the Dragons, Aaron Bonfiglio, would score the only goal of the first half and the Dragons would lead 1-0. The Dragons would add a goal but #36 for the Gladiators, Casey Newel, would cut the lead in half. The Gladiators had many chances to tie the game in the last 3 minutes but Dragons Goalie, Adam Kanning would come up big to secure victory, with the score being 2-1. It should come as no surprise that Adam won the divisions’ top goalie honors.
SQUIRT DIVISION – this 6-team division had a good mix of teams that don’t often face each other. After a few games it was clear that the Green Dragons and Savannah Sting were the class of the field and destined to meet for the gold title. After each of them breezed through their 3 preliminary games, this is exactly what happened.
In the gold championship the Green Dragons would storm out to a 3-0 lead, but the Sting would answer scoring 3 straight of their own in the last 3 minutes of the 1st half to send the game into intermission tied. The Sting would score, and the Dragons would answer. This would happen twice, to put us tied at 5-5. With about 5 minutes to go in the game #13 of the Dragons, Jared Medwar would give the Dragons the lead. This would be Jared’s 3rd goal of the game. He wasn’t done, adding a 4th and the Dragons would win by a final of 7-5.
The other 4 squirt teams would meet in the squirt silver semi-finals, matching up Team Carolina 2000 with the Jr. Gladiators and McDonough Lizard Kings vs Maniacs. Both semi-finals were competitive games, but in the end TC 2000 and the Lizard Kings would advance to meet in the silver championship. In the championship Team Carolina stormed out to a quick start and would carry their momentum into half with a 4-0 lead. The Lizard Kings showed a lot of heart and battled back to make it a game. In the end those early goals were too much to overcome, and Team Carolina went home with gold medals, final score 5-3.
PEEWEE DIVISION – Even though there were only 4 teams, this was a balanced division. The Maniacs tied the Bruise Brothers to give them their only blemish in the prelims. In the semi-final it would be a rematch, but the Bruise Brothers made sure this didn’t happen again and took care of business easily over the Maniacs to land in the championship. The Savannah Sting 97’s and 98’s would meet in the other semi-final, and it would be the younger crew to come out on top 3-2. These teams are very evenly matched. In their prior game the Sting 97’s won by the same score, 3-2, but when it mattered in the playoffs they fell short.
Apparently the Bruise Brothers and Savannah Sting 98 play pretty often and the Bruise Brothers usually come out on top. Upsets happen all the time in hockey and despite getting outshot by a margin of almost two to one in the championship, the Sting found a way to get it done. #10 JJ Fecteau had two goals and an assist in the championship to go along with his division high scorer award, and goalie Chris Gerstmyer turned away 12 of his 14 shots as the Sting 98 take the peewee title.
BANTAM DIVISION - Bantams would also be a very competitive division with 4 pretty evenly matched teams. The Lima Beans pulled out the semi-final against the Stealth in a great game, 5-4. The other semi was not as close between the Tennessee Inferno and Savannah Sting, but I attribute that largely due to many Sting players playing multiple divisions and being a bit wore out in the hot rink.
This would be our last game of the tournament and had drama on a few fronts. For one, the power went out, except for the lights. This would have been a nightmare if it happened earlier in the day but since it was the last game we were able to manage the situation and keep time on the phone.
On the rink the Lima Beans took the early lead and had a pretty good game plan. They were short players with only one sub and would kind of box the Inferno to sleep, but when they got the puck they would spring a guy and try to launch him on a breakaway. They took a 2-0 lead into half.
In the second half the legs of the Inferno took over and they dominated the play in the offensive zone. They didn’t have an easy time scoring though, but did manage to tie the game and we ended regulation tied 3-3. It only took about 30 seconds of overtime for #89 Jack Mali to end it, as he stick-handled in tight quarters in front of the net and buried it for the Inferno and allowed them to take the gold medals back to Tennessee. Final score 4-3.
If you played in this event and had fun, don’t forget we have another tourney at Dreamsports in NC on June 9th-10th. We hope to see you there!