Hawaii Closing Blog - How the divisions played out.

I can’t imagine anyone playing at KIHA this weekend and not coming back next year.   It was a fantastic tournament with the perfect mix of great hockey and vacation.  The highlight of the event was the NARCh Pro Championships that took place today between the Tour Mudcats and Pama Cyclones.   The teams played each other twice in the prelims and both were great games.  With prize money up for grabs, this highly anticipated final drew our largest crowd of the weekend.

If you’ve watched a lot of hockey you know that catching the other team off guard is half the battle.   Most teams play man-on-man.  Players change speed frequently, hoping to lose the man covering them to create a great scoring chance.  For this reason the game looks a bit slow at times, and lightning fast and full of action at other moments.

Mishka Drury would put the Cyclones on the board first, but Sean Sullivan would answer for the Mudcats and we would go into half tied at 1.  I was walking around the rink watching the game from different angles and I would say that the crowd was pretty split, half rooting for each team.    I think most locals just wanted to see a great game.

In the second half Jerry Osterkamp would put Pama up, with a nice pass from Shawn Gawrys.  Next it was Gawrys to pump one in on a sweet pass from Itan Chavira.   The play was back and forth and the Mudcats had their chances, but Mike Urbano was stellar in net.  Brett Leggat was also solid, but the deeper bench of Pama seemed to be the difference in this one and Patrick Gallagher would add a late one for Pama, as they take the Hawaii Pro Championship, 4-1.

Mite Division – there were only three teams that competed in the 10 and under division, but it still supplied exciting hockey.  The Angry Birds were basically the Bears from the 8u division yesterday.  While they won the 8u title, giving up 2 years was a little too much to overcome.  The Warriors and Geckos played each other twice already this tourney and both times the Warriors won fairly easily.  This is hockey though and anything can happen.

The Geckos not only played the Warriors tough, but they held on to pull off the upset by a final of 6-4.   A young goalie by the name of Hatrick Blum, yea you heard me right, stood on his head in the championship making big save after big save until the time finally expired.   His father came up to me afterwards and explained the reason for his sons’ name, as it’s his 3rd.   Makes sense to me.

Squirt Division – four teams competed in our squirt division, Kauai Kona Selects and Team Maui traveled in, while the Geckos and Warriors play out of KIHA.  The teams from here are strong.  They’re actually coming off a Winternationals Championship in this division a few months ago in San Jose and will be look to defend that title at the FINALS.

The Kona Selects and Maui would meet in the silver championship.  Nico Baclig would put Maui on top first.  He would add an assist and a late goal.  Kyle Segundo also played strong in net, making 13 saves on the 14 shots he faced, and Maui took this championship by a final of 5-1.

The gold championship would match up the KIHA Kids that know each other well.  Travis Eichner has a great tourney for the Geckos, not only taking home the tourney high scorer honors but also adding a hat trick in the final.  The Gecko’s would take the championship in a solid battle, 5-3.

Peewee Division – The teams in the peewee division were the same as the squirts, in fact many kids played both divisions.   The matchups would also be the same, with the two KIHA Teams playing for the gold championship and the Kauai Kona Selects and Maui facing off for the silver title.   The game was a tightly played first half, with Michael Burke scoring the loan goal for Maui.  Maui was able to turn it on a bit in the second half, as they shut out the Selects, 5-0.

The gold championship would be a great game, and goalie Donavon Warren of the Warriors was probably the main difference in the game.  Noah Baldado added some offensive punch with a hat trick, and the Warriors would hold off the late push by the Geckos, 6-5 being the final.

Bantam Division – this would be our most competitive youth division top to bottom, with no mercy rules.   The KIHA Geckos  and Team Maui would play to a one-goal game in the prelims and meet for the silver championship, and the Warriors and Spread the Aloha would play to a one-goal in the prelims and meet for the gold title.

In gold, Spread the Aloha really came out strong, scoring two quick goals to really grab momentum in this one.  The top-seeded Warriors could never really get things going.  Sort of ironic that the team that went undefeated lost the most lopsided game of the division, 6-0.  Hockey is a funny game though and you have to be ready to play hard every shift, and that’s exactly what Spread the Aloha did to take home gold.

The silver championship between Team Maui and the KIHA Geckos was one of the better championships of the day.  With just 17 seconds left and down a goal, Ryan Daubenmire scored his second goal of the game to put Maui within one.    The Geckos would not let this one slip away though, and took home the title by a final of 4-3.

The mens division was our largest division of the tourney with 10 teams and made for some of our best games of the tourney.   After prelims, the division was split into the top 4 for gold and the bottom 6 into silver.   The silver semis were very competitive, as Spread the Aloha got by the Green Leaves 4-1 and Those Guys pulled out an extremely tight one against Pama 3-2 to set up the silver championship.  It appeared that Spread the Aloha was going to take this one but with just 5 seconds left Gregory Studt scored for those guys to send us to overtime.  Just 13 seconds into overtime Tim Grossman would be That Guy to win it for Those Guys.

The gold division could not have been any tighter.  Both semi-final games needed overtime to settle.  Aoki’s Rainbow would advance past Running on Empty 7-6 and Team Maui and Aoki’s Volcanoes would go into a shootout to figure out who would play for a medal.  The rink was packed and Maui had a large contingency here with all of the youth that made the trip banging on the glass with every save or goal. Visa Versa, the Volcanoes are local and had a ton of fans of their own.  It made for some great drama, but in the end Maui would advance to face the other Aoki squad.

Aokis Rainbow came out flying and Maui was a bit flat after their big shoot out win.  The score was 6-0 at half, but the game was back and forth and more balanced than the lopsided score.  Team Maui did pop two in during the second half to make it respectable, but Aokis Rainbow would take the title 6-2.  This group is a committed group that travels to most of the major NARCh Events, so it’s nice to see them win the 10-team division on their own turf.  I’m sure we’ll see them in San Jose and they will be right in the medal mix there as well.

The 35 and over division was the brainstorm of Jami Yoder, at it was awesome.   He balanced out the teams of individuals that wanted to play, and he did a great job.   Team Vintage grabbed the #1 seed, and the scores of their games were 5-4, 5-3, 4-2, and 7-5 in the semi.   They would meet Team Classic for the championship, which went 2-1-1 to get there.  It’s really is cool to see these guys who coach, ref, or just play dad at the tourney get to experience the tourney by sweating up a storm with skates on themselves.   Don’t get me wrong, everyone would rather win, but the experience and just having fun is really what it’s all about when you get to this stage of your hockey career.

In the end it was Team Classic who would take the title in this division, as Rock Ortiz was all over the score sheet with 2 goals and 2 assist.  It was the only loss for Team Vintage, but they seemed perfectly fine taking home silver medals.

In closing I can’t thank the owner of KIHA Richard Pentecost enough.   He’s given so many people the opportunity to play this great sport here on Oahu, and many of us the opportunity to tie it into a great vacation that we’ll never forget.   It was a great time and I’m not only looking forward to next year, but sad to go home.  It’s not like I have it bad in San Diego either, but this trip was incredible!