Irvine Regional Recap
by Alex Morrison
This weekend, 116 teams converged on Orange County, as the largest regional of the year was held. 270 games were played on 6 surfaces at 2 facilities: The Rinks - Irvine Inline, which was the main site, and The Rinks - Huntington Beach, our satellite arena for a couple of the big days.
The event was really competitive, with 4 of the divisions going down to a shootout to determine a winner. At the NARCh Finals, we play overtime until a winner is determined, but at the regional events, to keep people travelling in from missing flights or delaying long drives home, we play a 5 minute overtime followed by a 4 player shootout.
Before I get too deep into how the divisions broke down, there are a couple stories that were interesting enough to share here…
We had quite a few teams that came in from outside So Cal:
Cayman Islands - 5 teams (yes, they came here from Cayman Islands!)
Out of State - 10 teams
Nor Cal - 23 teams
Today, we had a really neat (and rare) moment, where 3 brothers were on the same team in a championship game with dad coaching. This happened during the Junior Gold Final, when Bob Blakewell was coaching the NorCal Extreme, and boys Sam, Nick and Joe Blakewell on the floor… and then, over on the other rink, Mike Betsch was one of the Temecula Warriors coaches, as boys Jake, Cody and Kevin Betsch were playing in the 12u Gold Final. In the 20+ years I have been doing this, I can’t remember a time that this has happened within such a short period.
About a month ago or so, I was talking with Daryn about the possibility of putting together a younger Girls only division… Looking at the teams that play at NARCh, we saw that Milita, Honeybadgers, Bulldogs all had quite a few girls playing. Well, after a few phone calls to Emily Doran and Dan Maxwell, we were able to make it happen. I have been coaching girls’ ice hockey in San Diego for a couple years now, and brought out a few girls that had never played roller hockey before. Grasshopper Gamewear did a fantastic job getting our jerseys and pants made in such a short amount of time. The quality was incredible. It was a great introduction to the sport, and it happened thanks to the support and promotion that Daryn gave us. Hopefully at the West Coast Finals, we will have an even larger division, and will keep it growing for years to come.
…and now for the division recap!
6u - This is always one of the highlights, as it is not only showcasing the future of the sport, but it is introducing some parents to NARCh, as well as seeing some returning faces who used to play years ago, only to have a son or daughter now playing for the first time. Jon King is one of those people. He was always one of my favorite players, not just to watch, but to talk to as well. He was the kid that was always smiling on the floor, and it hasn’t changed now that he is behind the bench. His OC Marvel team was fantastic, winning the gold medal. All 4 teams should be proud of their effort this weekend!
8u - This was a 7 team division that began on Thursday evening, and concluded on Saturday, with a ton of great games stuffed into that 48 hour period. Gerry Osterkamp was one of the top NARCh Pro players over the course of a decade, and is now coaching a lot of young players with the Labeda Jets teams. With 2 teams in this age group, over 25% of the players this weekend have been mentored by him… and it showed! The Jets Navy were the class of the division, winning each and every one of the 5 games they played, and earning gold in the top group.
10u - The Pama Cyclones 08 are coached by James Gasseau, who was one heck of a hockey player in his own right. Now, he is teaching the next generation of players how to get it done. His team was the only one with a perfect 3-0 record after the initial round, and they finished things in the playoffs with a championship game victory.
12u - Our largest division of the weekend was also an extremely competitive one. Of the 18 teams competing, the High Rollers, Bend Bullets, Revolution 05 and San Diego Rockets 05 were the 4 undefeated teams, all earning their way to the Platinum semifinal. The Revolution 05 ended up on top when all the dust settled, but it should be noted that the semifinals and final were all decided by one goal.
Girls ‘04u - See above for most of the story here, but congratulations to West Covina on their win, beating the Bulldogs by 2.
14u - There were 16 teams here, with 4 teams moving to the Platinum semifinal with 3-0 records. The West Covina High Rollers, High Rollers OC, Verbero aNARChy, and Angry Ducks 05 were all quite impressive as they played in the initial round. Once the playoffs began, the Ducks beat West Covina in a game that had 18 goals scored. It was a different story in the other game, as Verbero needed a shootout to get by the OC team 2-1. In the final, Anarchy turned on the scoring, as they won the gold medal with a 6-2 display.
16u - Another 16 team division ended their initial round with 4 teams with 3-0 records. Revolution Black 01, LA Winterhawks, NCR Konixx Elite, and Skittles 02 were those teams. The semifinal games played out in a fashion that a few may have expected, with the Winterhawks and Revo 01 moving to the final. This was probably the most intense matchup of the weekend, and in the end, Northern Cal bested Southern Cal by a goal. The crazy thing is (if you want to call it crazy)... the Winterhawks are a 14u team!
18u - 15 total teams played in this age group, and we had split them in 2 divisions before the event began. In the Platinum division, Revolution 99 went 4-0 in the round robin and won their championship game, beating the Groove 4-0. The Gold/Silver division had 10 teams, and all but one earned at least one point during their initial round of play. The unknown team to us was the Sin City Barons. They looked good in their first 2 games, and had a one goal victory to make their way to the upper group. After a semifinal win, they were in the championship game against the Mission Mayhem. This was a tightly contested affair, with a 3 on 3 goal with less than a minute to go being the difference maker, as they won the game 3-2.
Junior - A lot of the Revolution 99 players also rostered on their Junior team, and took their momentum from their 18u win into their Junior semifinal matchup against the Groove, who they had just seen an hour before in the 18 final. They came back from being down a few goals to make it to OT, and eventually move on to the final after a SO win. They came into Sunday afternoon’s game rested and ready, and they showed it, beating the Grasshopper Gamewear team, who had previously looked unbeatable by a 4-0 score.
Women’s - The Labeda Jets were led on the floor by Brooke Bryant, who played in multiple divisions over the weekend, and lit the lamp many times in her women’s games. The Jets ended the round robin with an unblemished record, and awaited their opponent in the championship, who turned out to be the Mavin Mavericks, after they surprised the Labeda Cyclones in their playoff game. The Jets ended up winning the gold medal by a score of 6-3.
Men’s Silver - This is one of the few times that I have seen a division that had every one of the 5 teams playing getting at least 3 points during the round robin. With only one exception, every game in the round robin was decided by 2 goals or less. While any one of the 5 teams could have won this division, the MR2 Lynx ended up on top, beating the Westside Boyz 5-3.
Men’s Platinum/Gold - The Rink Rat Groove looked like a NARCh Pro All Star game from years past, as the Chavira boys, Junior Cadiz, Tyler Maxwell, Tommy Tartaglione… the list goes on. It was going to be a tough road for anyone that was going to play against them… Other than a 1 goal game against Mavin Tribe, they won each game by multiple goals, and had a good time playing together. Dan Maxwell couldn’t be missed, as his neon lime green shirt lit up the rink as we closed things out to finish the weekend.
That’s a wrap for this long weekend! We will see you next week as Daryn and I leave for New York on Thursday.