Roadrunners take the NARCh Pro Title in Irvine!
Tour Road Runners Win the West Coast NARCh Pro Title
By: Raine Hernandez
Slaying the dragon.
The nucleus of the Tour Road Runners has dominated the NARCh circuit, winning in nearly every single division that they have played in for what has been for over a decade. Arguably one of the greatest youth roller hockey programs of all-time, there has always been a division that they have yet to conquered, the pro division.
The Road Runners are hardly considered as a contender to hoist the NARCh Pro title, all due to the reason that people believe that they are too young to make any damage in the division. Their performance at the East Coast NARCh Finals proved otherwise.
Led by goaltender Rob Kowalczyk, the Road Runners clinched the #5 seed and would upset their in-state rivals, the star-studded Mission Black Ice in the quarter-finals before losing to the Mission Bauer Bordercats in the semis.
Despite losing in the semi-finals, the Road Runners finally proved critics wrong and eliminated the idea that their youth was no longer a weakness and were looking to continue this momentum heading into Irvine.
How did they look?
The Road Runners rolled their way to one of the top 2 seeds in the division heading into the playoffs, finishing with a 4-0 record with convincing wins over the always strong Pama Labeda Golden Knights, Mavin, the Mission Skittles, and the Revision Rally Cats.
Due to their record, they earned themselves a bye straight to the semi-finals, where they would square off against the highest seed remaining, which turned out to be Konixx, who defeated Charlie Combs and the Raiders HC by a score of 5-1.
Meanwhile, Rink Rat (who managed to snag the #1 seed due to having a better goal differential than the Road Runners) had themselves a date with the Golden Knights, after they squeaked a
2-0 victory over the True/Revision.
Rink Rat pulled away to victory in their semi-finals, all the Road Runners had to do was take care of their business. With long-time Road Runners goaltender Keith Johnson setting the tone from between the pipes and lockdown defense from every member, the Road Runners easily got past Konixx, winning in dominating fashion, netting 6 goals while Johnson remained sharp to earn the clean sheet.
With the win, the Road Runners set themselves up for a championship showdown with Rink Rat to decide who would own NARCh Pro supremacy, and they did not disappoint.
In the opening frame, both teams were locked in defensively, waiting to capitalize on the first team to make a mistake.
Unfortunately for Rink Rat, it would be them to make the first mistakes, as they would give Joey DiMartino to much space to work, as he wheeled through the whole team and had his shot trickle past Troy Redmann to give the Road Runners the 1-0 lead.
Johnson would continue to prove that he is one of the top goalies in all of roller hockey, turning away all of the pressure that Rink Rat was pressing, attempting to find the equalizer. Once again, it would be the Road Runners who would find the scoresheet next, when Max Halvorsen used a screen to wire one past Redmann to double their lead.
While Johnson would remain a force between the pipes, it would be the elite defensive play of the Road Runners that would steal the show. Along with DiMartino, ’01 born Jaden Guzman and Christian Acosta would assume their roles as ‘Free Safeties’, surveying the rink with their true-blue speed, maintaining possession and eliminating any opportunity that Rink Rat had.
However, with a 1:22 remaining, Rink Rat found new life when Juaquin Chavira was the first one to solve Johnson in the entire playoffs, drilling his wrist shot to cut the lead to 2-1.
Despite giving up the goal, the Road Runners remained calm and managed to hold on for the lead and claim the West Coast NARCh Pro title.
It has officially come full circle for the core of DiMartino, Halvorsen, Nick DellaMorte, Brett Jackson and the rest of the team to finally add the final piece to their trophy collection, the Pro title.
They’re hopeful that it’ll be the first of many.