By Lonny Lovins
We have wrapped up the tournament here in Snellville Georgia, and it brought us some really good final games. As the season starts to move toward the end, it is a race to the finish to see where everyone will be placed. The East Coast swing has been great, because I feel like I am seeing a real accurate representation of the teams and people I will see when we are in Florida. I have not been to NARCh finals in Florida, so I am excited to see how it is being shaped. For now, we will talk about the finals from this tournament, and I will give a recap of each game.
Atom Division – SGAA Jr. Gladiators vs. SGAA Mission Sting.
This division belonged to the SGAA Jr. Gladiators all through the round robin games. The final would be no different, as the Gladiators came out strong, and closed the game out without giving up a single shot on goal. Along the way, Gladiator goals were scored by #5 Nate Stout, who had a pair. #8 Brad Camp also added a couple of goals in the championship game. #71 Xavier Goodwin had the big numbers in the game, as he scored 2 goals and 2 assists to put the game completely out of reach late in the 2nd period. #9 Wyatt Dasher was the playmaker of the game adding a goal and 3 assists. Overall it was a dominating tournament for the little Gladiators. I expect they should show pretty well at finals. They have a strong core, that have played together for awhile, and enjoy playing together in general. Hopefully they stick together, and continue to be a powerhouse for years to come.
The top scorer for the atoms had 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points in round robin play. From the SGAA Jr. Gladiators #16 Gavin Sundseth. The top goalie from the atom division made 8 saves on 10 shots for a .800 save percentage. Also from the SGAA Jr. Gladiators #1 Sevario Marcella.
Mite Division – Gold Final: Carolina Force ‘03 vs. The SGAA Jr. Gladiators.
The Force got on the board about 7 minutes into the game when #99 Zack Robinson made a very nice play on an individual effort and scored the first goal of the game. The Force would score again 3 minutes later with #14 Zach Herman scored off of a turnover by the Gladiators. The Force would take a 3-0 lead when #7 Braxton Powers was able to put away a nice pass by #99 Robinson. The Gladiators would not go away quietly, as they scored their first goal to cut the lead, when #24 Tillman Washington would walk through the Force team to score their first goal of the game. It would take less than a minute for the Force to answer, when #99 Robinson would be at it again. Making a bunch of moves in front of the net to score another big goal. The first period would end with the Force leading 4-1.
The second period would begin with the Force’s #12 Megan Toering taking the opening faceoff down the rink and scoring a goal to extend the Force’s lead. A minute later, the Force would strike again, when #14 Herman would score to put the game out of reach for the Gladiators. With 9 minutes left in the game, the Force would score again with #7 Powers getting another goal off of the stick of #99 Robinson. The Gladiators would try and mount a late comeback, but since they came out a little flat, they were unable to put together enough of an effort to win the game. #7 Jason Bernard, and #24 Washington would score late to try and get their team going. This game belonged to the Force, as they would cruise to the win by a score of 7-3.
Mite Silver final : TN Knuckleheads vs. Peach Tree City Jets.
The Knuckleheads played a tough round robin schedule, and barely found themselves out of the gold division. It seemed as if they had something to prove, as they came out and put the hurt on the PTC Jets. The Knuckleheads started the scoring early in the first when #13 Logan Givens would score. Nothing more would happen until late in the first when the Knuckleheads would score again. This time it would be #10 Garrett Parker scoring to give the Knuckleheads a 2-0 lead going into the half.
In the second period, the Jets would cut the Knucklehead lead in half when #17 Cami Salaski would score on an assist by #71 Kristen Kanaskie. The Jet’s elation would be short lived when Knuckleheads goal scored #10 Parker would give his team the cushion they need. The Knuckleheads would score again when #25 Luke DiPasquale would deposit the puck in the net to further extend the lead. The Knuckleheads wouldn’t need any more goals, as their defense and goaltending stifled the Jets. The Knuckleheads would easily take the gold medal by a score of 7-1.
The top scorer for the Mite Division had 9 goals and 2 assists for 11 points in round robin play. From the SGAA Gladiators, #5 George Goodwin. The top goalie for the Mite Division made 43 saves on 49 shots for a .878 save percentage, from the Carolina Force #1 Ty Free.
Squirt Division – Gold Final: Scorpions Silver vs. Scorpions
The Squirt Division final was our best game of the day by far. Each of these teams were so evenly matched, that they were separated by only 1 goal against for the seeding. This game featured great goaltending, and big goals at opportune times by each team. Early in the first period, the Scorpions would score when #25 Derian Brown would score a goal on an assist by #22 Austin Garry. Each team would hunker down from here, and the goalies would shine as neither team would score for a full 12 minutes. Late in the period, it would be the Scorpions Silver team that would find the net. #1 Riley Nichols would take the pass from #4 Zach Winslow and tie the game just before the first period would end.
The second period began the same as the first, with a tied game. This time it would be the Scorpions Silver team that would score early. #4 Winslow would score the go ahead goal, and we would be in for a dog fight. Silver goalie Kyle Myer would stand on his head, as the Scorpions would throw puck after puck at him. Scorpions goalie Anthony Samarkos played just as well, as he kept the net clean on his end as well. It was the Scorpions who needed the big goal, and it came late in the second period when #91 Abby Munger would score a huge goal to tie the game. We would need OT and then some to settle this game.
We would have no goals scored in the OT period, and we would head to a shootout. This is where the Scorpions would shine. They would score early and put the pressure on the Silver squad. The Silver team would also score to keep us at a familiar tie. The Scorpions would score again with their final shot, and Anthony Samarkos would make a huge save to seal the victory for the Scorpions. The Scorpions would take the victory 3-2 in a shootout.
Squirt Silver Final: Tour Lizard Kings vs. Carolina Force ‘02
This was another good game turned in by the Squirt Division. The Force came out with a strong game plan, and it paid off as they scored the 1st goal of the game when #99 Zach Robinson scored. The lead would be short lived, as the Lizard Kings would come back with a goal by #47 Miles Harrington. The game would stay tied for most of the first period, until late in the stanza #5 George Goodwin from the Lizard Kings would score to give them the lead. The Lizard Kings would go into the half leading 2-1.
The second period would start with the Lizard Kings going on a goal scoring streak. Their first of 3 quick goals would come from #47 Harrington to extend their lead. A minute later #23 Blake Brown would score to make the score 4-1 Lizards. The 3rd goal in 2 minutes would be scored by #47 Harrington and it would seem the rout was on. The Force would take their time out and calm down. Down 5-1, the Force would need a small miracle to win the game. The Force would eventually score with 9 minutes left in the game when #15 Ethan Chipping would score to cut the lead to 3 goals. Less than a minute later, #99 Robinson would cut further into the lead, when he would take a loose puck and put it in the back of the net. #15 Chipping would score a couple of minutes later to put the Force within one goal. This would cause the Lizard Kings to take their time out. The time out would prove to be only a band aid, as the bleeding would not stop. The Force scored again to tie the game with 4 minutes left when it was #99 Robinson, again taking the team on his shoulders and leading them forward. The Lizard Kings were shell shocked at this point, and they could not stop the coming of the tides, as it would be the Force who would score the go ahead goal. #11 Ethan Aponte would score the game winning goal with less than 2 minutes to play. The Force would complete the comeback, and steal the gold medal from the grasp of the Lizard Kings. Final score Carolina Force 6, Lizard Kings 5.
The top scorer from the Squirt Division had 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points in round robin play. From the Scorpions Silver, #4 Zach Winslow. The top goalie from the Squirt Division made 44 saves on 45 shots for a .978 save percentage. From the Scorpions Silver #41 Kyle Myer.
Pee Wee Division – Platinum Final: Peach Tree City Skittles vs. Carolina Force ‘99
This game was touted to be one of the best match-ups of the day. Neither the Force or the Skittles gave up a goal round robin play. So it was going to be exciting to see who would crack first in this game. We found out less than a minute into the game, when #8 Jacob Aponte from the Force, would score to give the Force an early lead. We wouldn’t see another goal in this game until less than a minute left in the first, when the Force’s #11 Ethan Textor would score on a nice pass from #7 Alex Robinson. The Force would carry a 2-0 lead into the half.
In the second period the Skittles would get on the board quickly when their big goal scorer #87 Mitchell Prowant would score a goal on a pass from #3 Parker Williams. The Force would come back a few minutes later to retake their 2 goal lead when #7 Robinson would score a goal on a nice play by #9 Sean Barritt. The Skittles would fight back again with another goal to cut the lead to 1, when #9 Jack Driggs would score on a rebound play that gave #87 Prowant an assist. The Force would not let the Skittles get back in the game that easily, as less than a minute later, a bad turnover by the Skittles would turn into a Force goal by #53 Matt Miller. The Skittles would score a goal with 19 seconds left when #87 Prowant would give his team a slight chance for OT. It would not be enough, as the Force would hold on for the win, and the gold medal by a score of 4-3.
Pee Wee Gold Final: 2000 Dragons vs. Raiders
The 2000 Dragons and the Raiders played an exciting final for the first half of the game. The Raiders looked as if they would be outmatched in this game, as the Dragons scored early to take a quick lead when #13 Carter Mussina scored a goal on a nice pass play from #9 Chris Mahaffey. The Raiders didn’t panic, and they came back with a goal a few minutes later by #22 Tyler Kimbro, with #13 Evan Rench getting the assist. The teams would skate even the rest of the period, heading into the half tied 1-1.
The second period would be a different story altogether, as the Dragons goaltender #29 Ben Geiger would shut the door on the Raiders. The Raiders would not get another goal, and the Dragons would score 3 goals to keep the Raiders at bay. #11 Nick Librizzi, #77 Chandler Baldwin, and #20 Matthew Lyles would score the goals for the Dragons. This would solidify their gold medal performance as the Dragons would win 4-1.
Pee Wee Silver Final: The Easton Atlanta Bulldogs vs. The Lima Beans.
The Bulldogs took the long road to the final here, as this was their first tournament. After a tough first game, a great tie, and a big win in the playoffs, they found themselves against a strong Lima Beans team.
The Lima Beans scored the first goal of the game late in the 1st period when #31 Cellyn Sampsell scored on a pass from #1 Thomas Lear. The Lima Beans would take a 1-0 lead into the half.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they could not get anything to go their way in the second period. The Lima Beans continued to put the pressure on, and #1 Thomas Lear would score a pair of goals to put the game away. #31 Sampsell would put the 4th goal in for the Beans, and they would skate to the victory by a score of 4-0.
The top scorer for the Pee Wee Division had 12 goals and 5 assists for 17 points in round robin play. From the Mission Sting Black #10 JJ Fecteau. The top goalies for the Pee Wee Division both had a 1.000 save %, from the Carolina Force and the Skittles #0 Tommy Gouveia, and #30 John Parker Wiggins.
Bantam Division – Gold Final: Mission Sting Yellow vs. Mission Sting Black.
This game had all the earmarks of a great looking match-up on paper.As we have found many times before, paper doesn’t make the game. The Sting Yellow came out fast, and they scored first when #99 Jacob Weekley scored to give his squad the lead. The lead would be short lived as the Sting Black team would come back with a goal when #26 Noah Ockomon scored. The Sting Black team would get on the board again, when with 5 minutes left in the first period, #7 Caleb Lewis would score on a nice pass from #71 Jason Ladzinski. The Sting Black team would carry a 2-1 lead into the half.
The second period would be all Sting Black, as they would not give the Sting Yellow another chance to get back into the game. Their defense was stifling, and their goaltending impenetrable. #10 JJ Fecteau, #7 Lewis, and #19 Austin Magera would all add goals to further the Sting Black lead. In the end, they were too strong for their Yellow counterparts. The Sting Black would win the game and the gold by a score of 5-1.
Bantam Silver Final: Bruise Brothers vs. Alkali Arsenal.
The Bruise Brothers brought a very strong team to the tournament, but penalty trouble, and an inability to control their emotions led them to the Silver Final, instead of playing for the Gold championship. The Alkali Arsenal scrapped their way through the round robin games. They made the silver final by just 1 goal against. This final was a game more about goaltending and defense as opposed to high goal scoring. Neither team was able to score in the first period as both goaltenders played incredibly well.
In the second frame, it would be the Bruise Brothers who would score first, when at the 8:27 mark, #4 Nick Gardner put away a pass from #9 Brendan Buckley. This would seem to be all the Bruise Brothers would need, as they were tightening down defensively. However, a bad penalty late, would cost them. The Arsenal power play would go to work, but during the power play, they too would take a penalty. So now we were skating 3 on 3, and this benefitted the Arsenal. They would score with 1:46 left in the game and send us to overtime.
In the overtime period, it wouldn’t take long for the Alkali Arsenal to score. A quick shot and a tipped puck ended up in the net when #7 Chris Buckner scored to win the game. The Arsenal scraped their way to the Gold medal by winning 2-1 in overtime.
The Bantam top scorer had 7 goals and 2 assists for 9 points. From the Mission Sting Black #19 Austin Magera. The top goalie made 35 saves on 38 shots for a .921 save percentage, from the Mission Sting Yellow, #32 Elijah Gibbons.
Midget/Men’s Division – Final: Sting vs. Dangl-Snipe.
This game was pretty much over in the 1st period, as the very strong Sting put goals in early and late to take this one home. Along the way #8 Chris Santa Maria scored a hat trick, and #9 Larry Adegoke scored a goal and a bunch of assists to help seal the victory for his team. The Dangl Snipe squad tried to stay in the game, but they had nothing for the Sting, as they were relentless.
In the end the Sting would score a few more goals, and carry a big lead late. The Sting would win by a final score of 7-2.
The top scorer for the Men’s division had 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in the round robin. From the Sting, #9 Larry Adegoke. The top goalie for the Men’s division made 43 saves on 51 shots for a .843 save percentage, from the Hundy P Buddies #33 Daniel Reese.
This wraps up our visit to the South. While it was a lot of fun, it was not nearly as hot as it usually is in the area. This was probably more of a blessing, as I can’t imagine we will be as lucky in Florida. Yet, I am still looking forward to the finals, and I hope that all the teams that played with us here in Georgia will be looking forward to finals as well. Until we meet again, keep shooting the lights out!