Marple Sports Arena Recap

Another solid weekend of NARCh Hockey in the books as we make our only trip to Pennsylvania in the 2013.  It was a great time and we saw a ton of great hockey.  I’m excited to put this video highlight together, as I was lucky to capture some great moments throughout the event. 

It’s always nice seeing my friends here in the East, sharing a few laughs and talking shop.  Almost everyone is pumped for Toronto and planning on attending the FINALS that are creeping up on us quickly about 10 weeks from now.  Here’s a quick recap of how each division played out.

ATOM DIVISION – 8u – We only had 3 atom teams compete this weekend in our atom division but we still had plenty of great action.  The Downingtown Cobras are new to NARCh and playing in their first NARCh Event as an organization.  They’re 8u team is very young, with many 6-7 yr olds.  Unfortunately they were defeated solidly by the Cougars and Gladiators but we all know there’s a learning curve to this and they should be proud of how they performed in their first NARCh Tournament. Hopefully they’ll go back to their home rink, practice hard, and come back and be a little more competitive on their next outing.  The Cobras goalie Alex Denny deserved a big shout out for facing so many shots and never giving up.

Our atom championship between the Cougars and Jr Gladiators was phenomenal.  As is often the case with the younger groups, we saw many goals scored in this one.   Fast-forwarding to the 2nd half, the Cougars held a commanding 6-3 lead with just over 13 minutes to play in the game.   #68 Kevin Bradley, #78 Sammy Phillips, and #28 Scott McNulty all contributed for the Cougars with 2 goals each.  The Gladiators tightened up their defense and kept chipping away finding the net twice to close the gap to 6-5.  With just :44 seconds remaining in the game #18 Jimmy Jacobs would tie the game for the Gladiators, sending this one to overtime.  

By this time the surrounding glass and snack bar area was packed, as the attention throughout the facility turned to this game.   In overtime the Cougars had a couple of great opportunities to clinch the title, but Gladiators goalie Primo Baldassarre came up huge in net on a few occasions.   At the 2 minute mark in OT Jimmy Jacobs got a turnover and came down the right wing.  He let a wrister go that clipped Cougars goalie Michael Lieze, hit the post, bounced off the post and hit Michael again, and found a way to just trickle in past the goal line.  The place went nuts!

MITE DIVISION – 10u – We had 4 mite teams compete in this tourney with a pretty wide range of talent.   Our most competitive game came in the prelims between the Cougars and Gladiators Red.   The winner of this game would face Gladiators Black for the gold championship, while the loser would drop to silver and play the Downingtown Cobras.   Shots were almost identical and this was a well-played game by both teams, but the Cougars would pull it out 6-4 to advance to the gold final.

In the gold championship the Gladiators Black squad was just too much for the Cougars.  This Gladiators team is very strong and can contend for a platinum title at NARCh, so I give the Cougars a lot of credit for playing hard and not folding.  In the end though the outcome was predictable, as the Gladiators Black would win gold and the Cougars would settle for silver.

The silver championship was also a bit lopsided.   In their preliminary matchup the Gladiators Red Team defeated the Cobras 8-4.   This time it would be a little more lopsided.  #54 of the Gladiators, Anthony Putter scored 3 of his teams 9 goals, as they cruised to the title by a final of 9-1.   The Downingtown Cobras are a classy organization though and took their lumps in stride.  There are some programs around the country that play a lot of NARCh that they would be competitive with.  Unfortunately they live in a tough market and played against some really steep competition this weekend.

PEEWEE DIVISION – 14u – This division was more competitive for 3 teams but one team stood out, the Tour Roadrunners 99.   They would go undefeated through the prelims scoring 26 goals and only letting in 5.   The gold championship would be an All Roadrunner matchup, as the 98’s defeated the Cougars and tied the Jr. Gladiators to advance.   

In the gold championships the 99s jumped out to a 3 goal lead and never looked back.  They were just more polished than the 98s.   Austin Masters was all over the score sheet for the 99’s in the final, with 4 goals and a helper, as the game was eventually called because of the 8-goal difference.  Final score, 11-3.

The Cougars and Jr Gladiators would battle it out in the silver championship.  In the preliminary round the Cougars won 4-3 in a great game.   The Jr. Gladiators had different plans for this one though, as #24 Sammy Steele opened up the scoring just :30 seconds into the game to give the Gladiators the very early lead.   The Jr. Gladiators would take a commanding 5-1 lead into the half.  The second half was more of the same.  Steele had 3 goals and 2 assist in the winning effort, as the home rink Gladiators would take this one 8-2.

BANTAM DIVISION – 16u – 6 teams competed in this division and we witnessed some great games.  The Jr. Gladiators went undefeated through the prelims to grab the #1 seed and a spot in the gold final.  The Tour Roadrunners 96 and Cougars Black would both have 2 wins and a loss.   The two played each other and the Roadrunners 96 came out on top, so due to the head-to-head tie breaker, they would be advance to the gold championship.

This would be one of our better finals of the day.  The Gladiators would jump on top early on a goal from #26 Michael Strofe, assisted by #4 Joe Pozzuolo.  #27 Kevin Mcnamara would come right back and tie the game for the Roadrunners with a nice goal of his own.  The Roadrunners would score again in the 1st half, but this would turn out to be their only lead of the game.   For the next 12 minutes both goalies would make many big saves until the 7-minute mark when Gladiators tied it up.  All tied up with about 4 minutes to play Joe Pozzuolo broke up a play in his own zone and came flying up the rink.  Just inside the blue line skating full speed he absolutely blasted a slap shot that found it’s way past Roadrunners goalie Travis Pelke.  This bomb would hold up as the game winner and the Gladiators won gold by a final of 3-2.

The bantam silver final between the Cougars Black and younger Roadrunners 99’s was also a fun game to watch with many talented players on both squads.   The end of the game was the most exciting.   The Cougars were up 5-4 and would be short-handed with under 2 minutes to play.  The Roadrunners would set up the diamond on the power play and moved the puck at will around the perimeter.    They found the back door open for a one timer with a slick pass and the Cougars goalie David Jacobs sprawled across to make a beautiful save.  I was watching from up top and I’m not sure how he got to it to be honest.  Still on the power play the Roadrunners turned it over and #97 of the Cougars, Joey Phillips, found himself alone on a breakaway and made no mistake.  He buried it low stick side with a quick release.  Joey scored the game winner and this one to put the Cougars up 2 goals with only a minute to play.  They added a last second goal and went on to victory by a final score of 7-4.

MIDGET DIVISON – 18u – Mission Black Ice is a platinum contending team at the NARCh FINALS, so this regional qualifier was a bit of a formality for them.   They were really only challenged in one game, which was the gold championship against the Tour Roadrunners.  The Roadrunners played them tough and it was a close game until the very end.  Black Ice was led early by #13 Shane Fox, who had the first two goals.  Most of the game remained 2-1 until the last three minutes.  I was up on the lift looking straight down when #88 Nicky Masters pulled a nice toe drag in the high slot followed by quick release which put his team up 3-1.  Not to be outdone, #16 Tyler Craft beat multiple players out of the corner and had a beautiful backhand.  Looking forward to seeing both of these goals in the highlight video.  Final score, 4-1 Black Ice.

The midget silver championship between the Pittsburgh Bandits and Downingtown Cobras was a great game.  We would witness plenty of action with 13 goals being scored when it was all said and done.  Getting the Bandits on board first was #66 Dan Trunk.  The Cobras would come charging back with 4 straight goals to take the 4-1 lead.  With under a minute to go in the half the Bandits would score again, sending us to half with the Cobras leading 4-2.  

Fast forward a little, #96 Justin Manning put the Cobras back up 2 goals with just over 3 minutes remaining.  The game was far from over.    Starting at the 2:49 mark the Bandits rattled off 3 goals in a span of under 40 seconds.   I honestly can’t say I ever remember seeing that in a championship game in the 20 plus years I’ve been doing this.   I think everyone was sort of in shock, especially the Cobras.   Dan Trunk was the fire starter and the finisher, assisting on the first two quick goals and scoring the last, his 3rd goal of the game.  That’s how this one would end, with the Bandits taking gold back to Pittsburgh by a final of 7-6.

JUNIOR/MEN’S DIVISION – I thoroughly enjoyed watching these 6 teams go at it in this very competitive division.  The only team to win all of their preliminary round games was the Scorchers, so they grabbed the #1 Seed.  The Demons were rewarded the #2 Seed, but they had a tough road with a 4-4 tie to Black Ice, a tough win over Inman Force 3-1, and another tie to the Roadrunners 3-3.   I guess it was a good thing that they played in so many battle tested close games, as maybe that’s what prepared them well for the championship against the undefeated Scorchers.

On paper the Scorchers probably win this one easily.  We all know this game isn’t played on paper though.  It would be a story of 22’s for each team, as #22 for the Demons, Matt Hellhake, put the Demons up first.  Not long after #22 for the Scorchers, Robbie Fulton tied it up.  Both of these goals came early.   With incredibly solid goaltending at both ends, this would be our lowest scoring final of the day.  To add to the entertainment, these two teams didn’t seem to like each other much.  It was a rough and exciting game to watch, but the referees let them play and it never got out of hand in that regard. 

If I had to name an MVP it would have been the Demons goaltender Steven Stewart.  The Scorchers peppered him with quality shots, but Steven made one dramatic save after another.   With under a minute to play the Demons got a 2 on 1 and Matt Hellhake scored his second of the game on a nice pass from Andrew Romano, and the Demons pulled off the upset 2-1.

The Alkali Montreal Ducks traveled the furthest, so it was nice to see them in the silver championship against the Tour Roadrunners.   They got past Mission Black Ice in an exciting semi-final that they pulled off late 5-3.  The Roadrunners defeated Inman Force 7-4 to advance to the final. 

The Ducks gave it all but appeared to be a little tired with only 5 skaters and the deeper bench of the Roadrunners were was able to capitalize.   These two teams played each other yesterday and let’s just say it was a physical game.   Since there are no jersey numbers on the Roadrunners Roster and I didn’t see much of this one, I can’t tell you who scored for the Roadrunners.  However I can tell you they won 5-2.  The Ducks would have to settle for taking silver back to Canada.

We really enjoyed ourselves at Marple Sports Arena and we hope it was memorable for you as well.  See you in Toronto!