A Flurry of Action
By Jeremy Ellis
We are closing in on the conclusion of Day 2 here at the 2017 Winternationals and the hockey has been intense all day long. Last second shots ringing off posts, nearly game tying goals milliseconds after the horn, and teams clawing to make their way up the playoff seeding. Playoffs have begun in the Mens Silver, Bantam, and squirts are all deep into the brackets and Cubs have completed round robin.
Squirts finished up round robin play earlier today and the teams were seeded into Platinum, Gold, and Silver. Four teams made it through to the platinum bracket with the High Rollers AA earning the #1 seed. They will be taking on the San Jose Inline Sharks while KIHA and the San Diego Rockets face off in the other half of the bracket. KIHA has been riding the solid play of Chance Legaspi between the pipes. He is near the top of the goalie stat lists. In other early Sunday matchups the Voodoo will face off against the Revolution 05s.
In Bantams Hockey House Army, Raiders Yellow, SJ Sharks, and the Revolution 01s all made platinum. Like squirts the Bantam division was robust enough to support platinum, gold and silver brackets. Everyone in the NARCh community knows how important goals against are and how they come into play in tiebreakers. A huge story within this division in the Hockey House Army A team not allowing a goal in any of their 3 round robin games. That stat was huge in earning them the number 1 seed in the division as seeds 2-4 allowed 2, 3, and 4 goals respectively. In my opinion, this Bantam Platinum division is one of the most exciting here this weekend and any one of these 4 could take home the cup. The Silicon Valley Quakes had a tough luck 2-2 tie against the Labeda Jets and finished with 5 points, one off the pace in platinum but enough to earn the top seed in the gold bracket. The Bantam playoffs continue bright and early on Sunday with the first division playoff set for 720 am.
Our Pee Wee round robin games concluded this afternoon for our 12 participants. Like the Hockey House Army A in Bantam, the San Jose Inline Sharks Black made it through round robin without allowing a single goal. Again, with the tiebreakers coming into play, that goals against donut proved to be the difference in garnering the 1 seed. Four teams each complete the Platinum, Gold and Silver. It was a very even division with every team except one picking up a win in round robin. NorCal teams have been looking good this weekend with NCR Elite program squads representing with good showings.
Mens silver is always one of our largest divisions and this weekend was no different. Two teams skated to undefeated round robin marks; the Merge and Blades of Steel, with the blades getting the higher seed on goals against. These Mens Silver brackets are always a crapshoot and it has been rare in years past for the highest seeds to emerge victorious. A lucky bounce or a hot goaltender can mean all the difference in raising the cup. A rare occurrence took place in the division today. Multiple teams finished with 2 points. After exhausting the tiebreakers, the West Covina High Rollers and Raiders Green remained tied with each having both 12 goals for and 12 goals against. It came down to a good old fashioned coin flip; the High Rollers called heads and after a modest bounce and spin, it landed tails. Raiders Green to the 9 seed and High Rollers 10. The only difference was who each played and which rink they played on. We finish the evening with Silver B quarterfinal matchups and continue these playoffs tomorrow.
Our final division to look at is Pro. Black Ice fared the best in round robin and finished with 7 points after coming back to tie the Konixx Outcasts. They get the bye and will face the winner of Rink Rat and Konixx. Our other semifinal is a juicy one with longtime rivals Tour Mudcats and Pama Cyclones renewing old acquaintances. These two had a classic here earlier today with Pama eeking out a 3-2 win. It was by the smallest of margins as CJ Yoder had a shot clang off the inside of the post and nearly cross the red line. There were multiple cheers of ‘goal’ from the stands but it was waved as no goal by the official. I asked CJ off the record if he had a good look at the puck near the goal line and he responded with a coy shoulder shrug, ever the professional, and leery to question an official. His teammates and he will have to chance for redemption when it counts most at 250 pm tomorrow.
Time to catch my breath here at The Rinks as we motor on into the AM hours. We should finish around 130 am tonight and I will be back tomorrow at 8 am as we begin championships. Good night all from HB!