By Jeremy Ellis
Well we had a chance to grab a good meal and get a measure of sleep on Sunday night after a full weekend of action in Moriches. I know Mike is busy getting after the highlight video so here I go closing things up with the last 4 championship game recaps.
After the remaining 4 adult games squared away the seeds for the mens division, we were back to the medal games with the Squirt Platinum Final. Mission Black Ice 00 had the #1 seed after a high scoring round robin that saw them net 30 goals in 4 games. The Tour Roadrunners earned their way into the final by knocking off the Black Ice 02 team 7-4 in the last round robin game. These teams played once in the round robin with Black Ice taking away 2 points, so the teams were familiar. The championship game followed a similar script as Mission started quickly and held a 3-0 advantage going into half. After a quick goal by the Roadrunners to open the half, Black Ice erupted with 6 straight goals to take the gold medal by a final of 9-1. In the championship game Black Ice goaltender Madison Romano set the tone with some big saves after the Roadrunners got on the board. Black Ice used balanced scoring in the final as 5 different players all scored.
For the gold final, it was a familiar scene with Black Ice versus the Roadrunners. This time the Black Ice 02 team faced the 00′s of Tour. Once again, there was familiarity with the teams both on and off the ice. One thing about these programs coming out of the same rink is the comradery between the two. It was a common scene to see the kids playing together off the rink and the parents tailgating together in the parking lot. Even though the competition is fierce between the boards, there is a great deal of respect for one another throughout the facility. This game stayed true to the high scoring nature of the weekend. The first half was non stop as the teams combined for 7 goals with the roadrunners holding a 5-2 advantage. each team scored twice in the second as the Roadrunners were able to hold off the relentless forecheck of Black Ice. Jason Santoriello had a great game for the Roadrunners with a goal and 2 assists. Top scorer in squirts went to 02 Roadrunner Frankie Jirak, whose face lit up as I tossed him his t-shirt for the award. It was the silver lining after the loss, but Frankie played a great weekend and seems like a great kid too. For the top goaltender, Black Ice 02 tender Kevin Lanning took home his second award of the weekend with a .818 save percentage. It bears mentioning how close this award was as Black Ice 00 goalie Madison Romano was right there as well. The difference was the number of shots that Kevin finished facing. Madison is an excellent goaltender and was more than happy to walk away with a gold medal as consolation.
The last two games of the weekend belonged to the adults. The combination of both junior and mens players in this division made it highly competitive. The seeding for this one came right down to the wire as the Long Island Blazers inched into the Gold Final by way of goals against. Awaiting them in the final were the Tour Roadrunners, somewhat stung by losing a tiebreaker themselves with LI Top Gunn. Again, it came down to goals against as Top Gunn and the Roadrunners skated to a 2-2 draw in Round Robin. In a testament to their fortitude, the Roadrunners did not have a let down and controlled the action in defeating the Blazers 7-3. The lesson here being how important goals against are in Round Robin. I oftentimes witness teams who are playing an opponent that they are clearly better than develop bad habits as they jump 3 and 4 players into the offensive end and end up giving up an odd man rush the other way. Those late game, meaningless goals can be the difference in playoff seeding.
For the platinum final, we had one of the best games of the weekend. LI Top Gunn faced off against the Mission Black Ice. We had numerous NARCh veterans taking the floor in this tilt and the pace was fast right from the opening drop. Top Gunn jumped on the board quick and found themselves leading 3-1 at the break. Pat Lasher had it going in the first half with 2 goals. Top Gunn continued the pace with a quick goal by Michael Lashes who had 2 goals in the game. Trailing 4-1, Mission Black Ice finally awoke from their slumber. John Schiavo, who was caught on camera passed out at the rink between games seemed to be somewhat groggy in the first half. He woke up at halftime though as he found the back of the net twice while John Healy added a goal and two helpers. Black Ice got the go ahead goal with 3:03 left and added one more for a final score of 7-5, great game. Great individual battle in this one with division top scorer John Schiavo (12G, 4A) trying to beat the divisions top goalie, Matt Tatariun of Top Gunn.
Final thoughts from this weekend include all of the dedication that Vio and Jason Muro put into the sport here. Jason andI had some great discussions about the state of the sport and the history that both Jason and Rapid Fire have. Jason truly lives Roller Hockey and without people like him and his dedication, this sport’s future would be bleak. The parents here are well invested as well. I heard numerous discussions regarding rosters, travel arrangements, and strategy for the upcoming NARCh Finals. Plans are being made as we speak and everyone is pretty excited. One other person to give a shout out to is Harold Rodriguez, who coached the NY Wolves in Adults. He was very helpful all weekend, keeping us up to date with the travel adventure of Friday night and all the rain. We had a good talk about roller hockey in the city of New York and how everyone can help it grow. Harold showed a great deal of dedication to the sport in his discussions and I wish him well in growing things locally. He also organized a hockey fundraiser for Hurricane victims recently, so again Harold, it was great to meet and talk with you this weekend.
Thanks once again for playing World’s Greatest Roller Hockey and from making Mike and I feel welcome. It was a great time, saw some excellent hockey, added a new rink to my list, and even got to catch a sunset on the beach Sunday night, awesome weekend! Its only about a month away, so goodbye for now, just not for long – until the Finals in Canada- goodbye everyone!