Another Update from the NARCh FINALS

by Daryn Goodwin

By Ryan Daubenmire

The RInks in Irvine is an absolutely unique facility—and perhaps unparalleled— setup in that it’s fundamentally an outdoor rink—but with all the amenities of an indoor facility. It’s fantastic feeling a breeze blow through the building, and the rising sun often makes for a spectacular backdrop for incredible photos and video. Something about playing at night, with the crisp air, darkening sky, and bright lights, makes for an even more extraordinary experience, though. 


This was the setting for one of the most exciting games of the day: the 30 & over final. After taking down SKA in a well-fought game, the Buzz moved on to face the Pama Labeda Golden Knights in the championship. This game featured about five top-tier pro players on each team—and tbe complimentary players are no slouches either—so it was sure to be a fun match to watch. A mere twenty seconds in, Itan Chavira struck with a well-placed one-timer. Itan continued to make a mark on this game, scoring not once but twice more to complete the natural hattrick with eight minutes left in the first. The Buzz, a talented and experienced team themselves, did not back down, but Golden Knight’s goaltender Andrew Skowron made a couple of big saves in the second and the game ultimately ended 8-3. In the 40 & over Platinum final, the Oakland Goodlife faced off against the Pama Labeda Golden Knights. Early on, it was a tough defensive matchup, with neither team making many mistakes, nor taking many chances. The Goodlife had a good opportunity to capitalize after an inadvertent, but brutal, high-stick resulted in a double-minor. PAMA killed it off, however, and took this one 2-1. The 40 & over Gold playoffs consisted of two one-goal games, the first of which had NCI Phoenix falling 3-2 to Aokis Shaved Ice. Aokis Shaved Ice, despite being the bottom seed in playoffs, went on to defeat the Pineapple Express in the final. 


My favorite game of the day, however, somewhat unexpectedly took place in the Men’s Bronze final. It was an absolute battle, with both goalies playing very well, but Wheel Hub Black stood victorious in the end, winning 1-0. This is Wheel Hub’s first NARCh as an organization. I’ve already touched on how great it is to see roller expanding in non-traditional markets, but seeing this team take home the gold after a playoff run that included a late-night OT win over the NCI Phoenix White was awesome. Dom Browne, who runs the program, managed to bring an astounding 14 teams—comprised of players from a variety of countries—to the tournament. Credit to Buzz as well; I don’t know the exact number, but it seems that they’re perennially in the final for Silver or Bronze, and Chris Martinez consistently delivers a strong Buzz Teams as well. In the Silver final, EQTY Forbes Raiders HC also won 1-0, beating the 44 Cal Snipers. In Bronze, the SD Fro Bros Collective defeated the TTH 14ers, and the celebration was electric.


The Youth divisions: the 14u Tour OC Blades completed their undefeated run, winning 5-1 over the Labeda Warriors Black. The Blades have a very skillful group; it will cool to see them continue to develop. In gold, the TPH Knighthawks took an analogous course and finished their tournament undefeated as well, winning a close one 4-3 over the Bulldogs Yellow. In 14u Silver, the opposite occurred: the Mavin Oregon Reign beat a strong Farm Tough team that had, up to that point, yet to lose. Finally, in Club, the San Diego Thunder overcame the Tour YVU to take home that championship.


One detail of note is that, in the 10 & under Platinum/Gold division, two of the international teams took the top two seeds. The UK Desert Rats finished first seed, while Chinese Taipei finished close behind. These two teams go straight to the Platinum final. Meanwhile, in the Gold semifinals, the IRHL Golden Knights will soon face the Konixx Outcasts, and the North Shore Zulu will play RBH Blue. The Silver/Club semis produced a couple of intriguing matchups as well, as the Chinese Taipei Juniors will play Tour YVU, while the Warrior Revolution, after a last-second-breakaway-goal-win, face the Mavin Sting Green.


For those just now arriving, both 16u and 21u have now begun and will undoubtedly provide some great games!