By Daryn Goodwin
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we don’t have huge tournaments all that often. 320 games crammed into 4 days I find myself running around like a crazy person trying to see everything and capture as much as I can through photos and videos. I step in to handle any major issues that arise, but my tournament directors are so solid that it allows me to do other things that I’m passionate about and make NARCh truly special. Part of my struggle is finding the balance between sharing things at the tournament vs after it’s over. If I share things at the event it takes time to prepare them, so it takes me away from the action and I could miss an important moment. In the instant gratification world that we live in I try to put a lot up quickly, but there’s just no way to share it all.
Hence, the reason I’m writing another blog a few days after the tournament is over and the bruises and sore bodies have started to heal.
In no particular order, here are a few random thoughts I’d like to share.
- Daniel and Michael Inouye made a little NARCh History. Daniel plays for Black Ice and Michael plays for the Mudcats. They’re the first brothers to ever face off against each other on different teams for a NARCh Pro Title. Both of them scored in the championship, but I’ll let the picture tell the story as to who came out on top.
- I think it was a breakout tourney for Larry Adegoke. He’s been good for a while, but I think he’s now one of the best players in the Pro Division. Big, strong, fast, and now he’s burying the puck more. I don’t think any other player in the division could have scored the goal he did for the game winner against the Pama Cyclones. He pulled up at the top of the circle on what was basically an innocent looking one on one. Ron Alexander was in front of him, with zero gap. When he cocked back to shoot, Ron got his stich right up in Larry’s hands. Anybody else doesn’t even get a shot off at that point, but because Larry is so strong, he’s able to muscle through it and use Ron for a screen. It went in. Not the flashiest goal ever, but very impressive if you understand what I’m describing or saw it live. They don’t ask how, they ask how many?
- The future seems bright in Southern California for the sport. Having 22 teams in the 8u-10u division in the middle of ice hockey season is a great sign for the future of the sport. The newer parents seem pumped on the sport. The Bulldogs and Temecula Valley Warriors 10u platinum championship was very competitive and I have a feeling these two teams will be battling for many years to come. The Warriors have come out of nowhere onto the NARCh scene with competitive teams in 8s, 10s, and 12s. Tom Bilek is the President of the TVIHA and is doing an amazing job.
- We had a number of great overtime playoff games. Most memorable was the junior championship that I wrote about in another blog, check it out if you haven’t already.
- A men’s team that won a division asked me if they got to keep the trophy. I said yes and they went nuts! So cool to see adults so pumped. It gets me pumped as well.
- A lot of California teams are planning on going to the FINALS in Canada, which is AWESOME! I’m so excited for them because I know what a memorable experience it’s going to be for them. Not to mention they don’t have to pay a 2nd entry fee because they’re playing in the WC FINALS.
- The sponsors were hustling this weekend. Verbero is taking the hockey world by storm. Not only quickly becoming one of the most prominent names in roller hockey, but I’m also seeing product on NHL Players! They hooked me up with the new Mercury Stick so I’m excited to take some hacks with that soon. All three wheel sponsors brought their A Game. Rink Rat now has a very solid pro team and Francisco and the boys were hanging at the booth quite a bit. It was pumping, especially during the pro games. Konixx has made a huge impact on the tournament scene the last 12 months. The Pure Wheel now sells itself, it’s a great wheel. Justin put in more time than any other sponsor at the Labeda Booth.
- Speaking of Labeda, the Labeda Pama Cyclones rolled this weekend. They lost in the semis in Pro, but won both Men’s and Women’s Platinum, as well as the 30 and over division. Funny moment in 30s. I catch the last 6 minutes of the game between PNHL Killers and Cyclones. I consider almost every player on both teams a good friend and have known many of them since they were teens. Now they’re 30. It’s crazy. Anyway, apparently I missed the real action. PNHL Killers were up 4-0. Then a fight breaks out on the Pama Bench between two good friends. Real fight, sort of. These guys are both nuts. Fight one minute, then it’s over, laugh about it the next with a fat lip and a blue eye. Pama won 5-4. Pretty funny, but not recommended at a NARCh Tourney. It resolved itself fine, but not sure what I would have done if I saw it.
- Nor Cal Teams are so important to the sport in California, and the days of So Cal Domination over them is long gone. It was like that for a long time back in the day. Now they’re winning more than their share of hardware and have some of the most well respected programs in the sport. They are all very professional and I don’t shy away from saying that they’re some of my favorite teams to deal with. Teams are teams, not floating rosters. Hardly ever any suspensions with these teams. Not to say that other teams in other markets don’t, but they respect the sport and their competition. Nor Cal Coaches and Parents, you guys kick ass and we appreciate your dedication and passion.
- We had many teams from outside the state that had never been to the Irvine Rink and they were ALL impressed. We’re spoiled living here. That facility is what California Roller Hockey is all about. The Irvine regional will once again be our largest event outside of Winters and the NARCh Finals. I’ve talked the Cayman Island 8u Squad into coming to play in the Irvine Regional to get a taste of the California Teams. I expect we’ll get some other out of state teams as well.
- It’s taken a while, but the 2nd generation growth is coming on strong. Kids that played NARCh that are now parents are getting their kids into the sport. There’s honestly nothing more rewarding to me than to witness the joy of seeing them with their kids and remembering them as kids as well.