Big Day at NARCh FINALS, Day 4 at Irvine.
By Jeremy Ellis
Finally able to catch my breath here in Irvine. It is the end of the weekend here and Day 4 is nearly in the books. Today was nonstop as we handed out medals after 10 games and conducted 2 skills competitions. Both Corey and Casey rinks have been playing catch up all day after awards and overtimes.
There were 2 skills competitions today and the turnout was great for each. The girls took to the floor first and it ended with 2 San Diego rockets claiming titles. While Juliana Diaz from the Bulldogs was our fastest skater, the Rockets Emma Tasevski and Ella Park were the top sniper and goalie respectively. The 10u silver skills was our largest so far with over 35 skaters entered to see who would be fastest. Andrew Grant would prove steadfast as the best time each round. Mateo Zoretic of the Renegades outlasted the field for Sniper and the Renegades 07’s Jake Farnham turned away the most pucks.
Championship Sunday was tight throughout today. The Bantam Club division got us off to a great start as AKS 01 was able to hold on over the upstart Bulldogs 5-4. Bulldogs Head Coach Taylor Kane was extremely impressed with how his team came together after a tough round robin. That was followed up by the Bantam Silver Final. The Konixx Outcast program fielded a newer team and was pleasantly surprised to do as well this weekend as they did. Waiting for them was a hard charging West Coast Warriors team led by head coach CJ Yoder. Yoder had the boys amped and ready to go and they jumped on the Outcasts early. Konixx fought back but came up short in the end 4-2.
The last game in the Bantam division came later with the Tour Lizard Kings and Farm Tough squaring off in Gold. Farm Tough was fresh off an upset win while the Lizard Kings held the top spot and home bench. A tight game throughout, Farm Tough used a 2nd half powerplay to extend a one goal lead. The Lizard Kings were forced to press the action a bit and the aggressive play proved costly as Farm Tough added late goals to seal it 8-3. There was great mutual respect between the two programs and the Lizard Kings were gracious in defeat, even stopping by the Farm tough locker room to offer congratulations.
The 12u was set to end as well with, Silver and Gold finals all taking place. The Militia White pulled quite the upset to win Club while the Zulu added to that programs successful trip with a 12u Gold Championship on a late goal by Brendan Stirbu. In Silver, the Konixx Outcasts looked very sharp in defeating the Bulldogs Blue 6-1 adding more precious medal to the Konixx haul this weekend.
Our top two mens and womens divisions ended as well today. The Womens teams were familiar foes in the platinum final with the Golden Knights facing the Republic. You would be hard pressed to find more skill than the ladies lacing up in this one. The Golden Knights were primed and ready after a semifinal win over arch rival Revision. The Republic got out to the early lead and had it again after the Golden Knights tied it at 2. A late goal by the Golden Knights was the difference as they took gold 3-2.
The Womens gold final was no less exciting and way more interesting. Interesting in that Maven goaltender Hannah Dorkin was injured with around 8 minutes left in the second half and Maven leading 2-1. Up for the challenge was Kyleen Gonzales who quickly donned the goalie gear. A goal by the Hot Wheelz tied it up at 2 and the dream was fading for Maven. Kyleen’s teammates stepped it up though and notched the next tally to make it 3-2. Gonzales then got the mojo working as she turned away the remaining Hot Wheelz volleys. The final score was 3-2 and Gonzales picks up the W in net.
The mens division was a split PRO / Platinum division that was exciting from the start. Pro was unique in that roster combinations were scattered forming lineups not yet seen in the sport. The results prove to be both unpredictable and exciting. For instance, the Tour Mudcats, the closest thing to the New York Yankees in our game, went 0-4 in round robin with a roster overhaul. You could sense that they would get back some of the magic come playoff time, and they surely did as they charged their way to the platinum final after two upset wins. Awaiting them were the Revision Recoil, who got off to their own slow start. The Mudcats took the lead 2-1 in the second half. Bodies were flying in this one as both teams were selling out up and down the floor. The final few shots by the Recoil were futile and the Mudcats finally corralled a loose puck and fired it into the empty net for the 3-1 victory.
Last but not least today was the PRO final between the Pama Labeda Golden Knights and the boys from up north Pure Maple. The Knights looked sharp from the start and I typed in one blog that they may be the team to beat. Then I saw the roster on the Roadrunners and their dominance in round robin and thought them may make the run. Unfortunately for them, Pure Maple was bigger and stronger in the semifinal and jumped on the Roadrunners early. A 4-0 deficit was too much to overcome for the Runners and they ended up falling 8-4. Pure Maple came to play this weekend. Led by the division’s top scorer and Vancouver Canuck Jake Vertanen, Pure Maple was a load for any opponent. Jake, a number 6 overall pick, has been playing NARCh since he was a kid for the BC teams and was excited to lace them up this weekend with his brother. Jake was gracious enough to sit and speak with me which you can hear on the NARCh audio blogs. He truly loves the sport of Roller Hockey and has nothing but fond memories of playing growing up. He also has a big mens Roller playoff game back home in BC and is hustling to make it Monday night!
The Golden Knights were on a mission with a big win against Mavin 6-4 in the semis. In the final, it may have been Pure Maple with the edge if the game was played on ice. Unfortunately for them it wasn’t and the Golden Knights put on a roller hockey clinic as Jake Vertanen told me. The Knights took the lead and didn’t look back in winning 6-1. Joe Cook stepped in for Rob Chornomud behind the bench and made sure Rob’s boys got the gold medal. Good luck to Rob’s daughter in Detroit this week in her volleyball matches!
Overall a great day and also my last here in California. I have to head out tomorrow as work calls. It was great seeing all the familiar faces this week and meeting the new ones, sorry I had to cut it so short. I am excited for whats upcoming for NARCh and the event in Georgia. Good luck to all of the teams this week and this summer and Happy Birthday to the big man Daryn Goodwin! Take care everyone and I will see you at the rink!