NARCh Pro Team Update
by Alex Morrison
This year’s NARCh Pro Division is the highlight of the year in the roller hockey world. Over the course of this weekend, 27 pro games are being played, with the teams in the final taking home a share of the $20,000 prize.
Make sure you check out the videos from the division, and other highlight videos we are creating on our You Tube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/narchplayers/videos
Here are my notes on each one of the teams participating, and my take after 2 games of Day 1 (with some of my opinions thrown in):
This is a team that at first glance brings the thought of “this is a young up and coming team”, but when looking deeper into the roster, I realize that most of the guys on this team have now been playing for a few years in the Pro division. Kyle Soper is one of my favorites on this team, as his personality is as infectious as his skill level. He scored 2 goals, including the game winner in a 3-2 win yesterday against Infamous.
The defending NARCh Pro champions have come here with an incredible group of players once again. Coach Joe Cook has his group here, ready to defend their title. For me, Tyler Spezia was a standout yesterday, scoring a couple goals, and even doing things that you might not realize just by looking at a scoresheet. In the game yesterday against Pama, Tyler was down low in the attacking zone when a turnover was created by the opponent. Tyler looked up, realized that he had a teammate down low with him, and that they were giving up a 3 on 2 rush. He grabbed the Pama player next to him, and was able to draw a coincidental minor penalty, shutting down the 3 on 2. Little veteran plays like that add up to make a difference in games.
Here we have a group of guys that have been thrown together, as Coach Vio had a few players that bailed out of commitments at the last minute. Unfortunately for this team, they had a tough schedule yesterday, and it doesn’t get any easier today. A bright spot for them came yesterday when Rocco Andreacchi scored the team’s first (and possibly only) goal of the event. Their realistic chance of making the playoffs will only come if their goals against stay down, and the other winless teams start giving up goals.
Making the Pro semifinal last year was a big step for this team, and they have taken that confidence into this year’s event. Let’s hope that next year, they get some jerseys that match the skill level they are displaying on the floor. ;) Jacob Turowski had a big game yesterday against HockeyMutt, with 5 points, and the addition of Juaquin Chavira helps this group’s depth, but for me personally, Corey Hodge and Nathan Skulley are the cogs that make this team work. Both are very skilled with the puck, and make great decisions both offensively and defensively.
The combination of Arizona, California, Ontario, and now Cayman Islands is one that works well for Nick Boyarsky’s team. Yesterday’s 1-1 record is one that on paper might look disappointing, but watching them play, I can easily see them doing some damage in the playoffs. They should qualify after today’s games, even though they have a tough schedule against Black Ice and RPD. Their style is definitely a puck possession one that uses the entire rink, which should naturally keep the goals against down, rather than the run and gun that we have seen by a couple teams this weekend. Brandon Glover is a great addition to this group, as he is a great kid, and a really talented player that seems to be in the right place at the right time quite often. Kyle Aldrich scored 2 big goals in their win against the Roadrunners last night, and should continue to be dangerous today.
Mission Black Ice
For the last few years, this has been in the Top 3 teams in the Pro Division, and this year looks no different. A lot of the usual suspects are back, with PJ DiMartino, Tyler Kraft and Matthew Gerger leading the way. Joel Eisenhower has been steady in net after 2 games, but to be honest, watching the game last night, and talking to Aaron Weiss, who is coaching here with Jason Muro this weekend, this team needs to be at their best to win this weekend, and there were a few things that can be tweaked to play a little better defensively. Look for John Schiavo to step up his game today, and take it into tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely in the playoffs, and will have a great chance of making the final, but it’s not a given!
Troy Redmann. OK, it’s not all about him, but holy cow, some of the saves that he made yesterday were unbelieveable. This team is balanced, and tends to keep mistakes to a minimum, but when they do happen, Troy bailed them out. Brandon Hawkins looked awesome yesterday. We were talking in the morning, and he brought up the fact that he was 6 the last time we were in this building, and that his dad was playing. As old as that made me feel, it was neat to see him in his pop’s footsteps. Matt White had one of the highlight goals of the day yesterday, scoring from almost behind the goal line, and finding the inch of room that he had to score. This is definitely a playoff bound team, looking to do what they did in Florida a few years back, when Kyle Kraemer had that crazy celebration after scoring the OT goal to give the Snipers the title back then.
Pama Labeda Golden Knights
Having a Stanley Cup winner on your team is pretty neat. Steve Olesky, who won one with the Penguins is out here, looking dominant on the floor. He had 3 goals yesterday, including 2 huge goals in what I would consider the game of the day against Alkali RPD, where Pama was down 3-0 with under 4 minutes to go, and came back to tie the game, with John Siemer and Brett Olinger contributing in those scoring plays. Gerry Osterkamp is back with Pama, which is wonderful to see. This playoff team could win the whole thing if all of the pieces come together for them.
Yesterday’s disappointing day for this team might not have them out of the running yet. An 0-2 record came due to the team’s failure to convert chances against Konixx in their game last night. The bright spot for them was holding Alkali RPD to 2 goals in the earlier game, so their goals against are quite low in comparison to the 0-2 teams, and with that being tiebreaker #1, they have a realistic shot of making it in as one of the 8 playoff teams. Nick Martini looks good in green and gray, and is a good veteran player to keep the young guys on the team composed and together.
True OC Bears
While they probably won’t qualify for the playoffs, there were a couple of bright spots for this team. Garret Vaslet and Connor Cafferty scored against Black Ice in their 5-2 loss, and Willie Boyle had a goal against the Snipers in their earlier game. To be more competitive in the division, they will need to pick up a few more players in future years. Today, they play Pama in the early game. If they can somehow squeak out a win against their later game against the Coyotes, they would have a slight chance of making it into the next round.