A few comments on our last day of Winters
By Jeremy Ellis
The final day of the 2017 Winternationals is upon us and it is set to be a good one. An incredible 15 championship games will take place today in Huntington Beach. All those finals makes for a hectic day as we rush to prepare medals, compile stats, all while keeping the boards, online scoring, and social media content updated. It definitely takes a village to run an event of this magnitude.
At 6 am this morning the rink was a buzz. All of the teams were ready to go right on time and so were the officials. There is always a little pep in your step as a ref when you come down to your final games of a long weekend. That light at the end of the tunnel becomes a bit more visible.
It seems only right to give a quick snapshot of yesterday before fully going into today. What a day it was, littered with overtime playoff games and multiple championships. Pro came to a conclusion and the Black Ice machine is back up and chugging here in 2017. With a shorter than normal bench and missing regulars, the Black Ice only left one point on the table when they came back to tie Konixx in the round robin. The remaining time they were untouchable. With contributions from throughout the roster and elite goalie play by Mike Maczynski, the recipe was in place for success. It all culminated in a convincing 5-1 win against the Tour Mudcats in the final. The catalysts as always, were PJ DiMartino and Billy Pascale. Pascale led the division in scoring with PJ right behind. More importantly than scoring is their presence and defense on the floor helped control the puck and suffocate the opposition’s offense.
Late last night as he waited for his Junior game to start, I sat and chatted with the Black Ice Head Coach Jason Muro. I flatly asked if he ever thought he would achieve this level of success on the highest stages with this group. While he always thought they were successful and a top team of talented young players, even he is pleasantly surprised with the level of consistency by this group the past few seasons. The players have taken on a totally different mindset and expect to win every time. It is always great to see a group that has so much passion for our sport and is dedicated to both winning and helping it grow.
Scattered among the championship games yesterday were some nail biters, including the 14u Silver match between the Quakes and HB Militia White. A large crowd witnessed a classic as this one went long in the first overtime. Finally a shot from the Militia found the back of the net sending the place into a frenzy.
The OT experience didn’t end there as the Mens Gold division caught the bug and had two overtime playoff games to end the late evening. The 30 and older division is living up to the hype it has brought the past few seasons. Former Pro players continue to bring the juice to this bracket and the PAMA Cyclones and Carshield seem to be on a collision course. The carshield team comprised of mostly Missourians is also wreaking havoc in Mens Gold picking up the #2 seed.
The Womens division is in full swing as well with the Revision ladies leading the way in platinum. In the gold division, the Jack O’Lanterns await the winner of the Lady Revolution, Sirens game in the final.
The Kids will have the most fun today though. A total of 5 championship games will take place in Atoms and Mites. These divisions are typically high scoring and the action end to end. I am excited to see the Temecula team in Mites as they went undefeated in Round Robin.
Keep an eye out on the live scoring throughout the day on www.narch.com to keep track of all the action and championships.