Sunday At The Beach - CHAMPIONSHIP RECAPS
by Alex Morrison
These NARCh regional weekends seem to go by so fast, yet have so many moments to capture. When we stuff 125 games into a 48 hour period over 3 rinks, there will surely be quite a few memories created. I will try to capture a few of them in words to share with you here.
One of the things that separates Sunday from the others at a regional is that it is filled with playoff games. These events are structured in a way so that even though teams may take their lumps in the initial round on Friday and Saturday, they are sure to play against a team that has had a similar fate, making for a good matchup. A lot of these games are sure to come down to the wire, with some of them needing overtime to determine a winner. This morning, a Bantam playoff game on rink 2 saw the Militia Grey face the SD Selects, with the winner moving on to the semifinal later in the day. Militia was up by a goal, thanks to a hat trick by Cory Mater in the first half. With a few minutes remaining, Mater lost where he was on the rink, and made a huge mistake to allow the Selects to tie the game at 4. Coach Skyler Hoar was not pleased at that moment, and let Cory know about it. The message was heard loud and clear, and after just a few minutes of OT, Mater lit the lamp again with a well placed shot from the high slot, saving the day for himself and his team.
Daryn (NARCh pres/filmmaster/photo guru) was over at the rink filming, and came off the rink with a great idea. As clutch as this player was, he wanted to reward the next player that scored in OT for his team with a pair of Clutch gloves (NARCh sponsor Clutch Hockey) The very next game on rink 3 was a Junior/Men’s final, that went to overtime, and sure enough, Nick Lang of RiskVision Red Army sniped one with just a couple minutes left in OT to win the gold medal for his team, and win himself a pair of gloves. That final was 3-2.
Before that game on rink 3, we had 2 Midget Finals back to back. The first one saw the 2 Raiders teams facing one another. In a friendly game, the Yellow team outshined the Green team by a 6-1 score. The game ended, and both teams got together for a great group shot, showing the mutual respect all of the players had for one another. It was a great moment.
The second final was a bit feistier, as the Notion and Bulldogs played an intense one. The Notion was a bit short, as their roster didn’t quite fill up 2 lines, and they lost a player during the game as tempers flared, and the Bulldogs had the game in hand by a few goals. A team effort by the deeper Bulldogs brought them the gold medal in this one.
The Junior/Men’s Gold final saw the KG Groove against the Militia. Groove showed up this weekend with a solid crew, a mix of young and veteran NARCh players, and it showed. One of the all time Pro scoring leaders, Josh Laricchia was a great presence on the rink for the team, and led them to a regional championship, winning 8-1.
The Mite Division had one team and one player that stood out. The Pama Cyclones Black and Aidan Yi look to be a force to be reckoned with at the NARCh Finals this summer. Anthony had 14 points in his team’s first 3 games, and had 4 more in the final, leading his Cyclones team to a 10-2 win over Militia Red in the Gold Final.
The Mite Silver Final was next, and the Renegades and Milita were fired up to play. The game started off up and down the rink, as the teams combined for 3 goals in the first 6 minutes of play. After that, it was all Renegades, as 6 different players scored for them, including Carson Castro’s first goal with the team with just a few seconds left.
Pee Wee Silver featured the Bulldogs and Pama Cyclones Blue in a tightly contested battle. The teams played back and forth in the first half, until Noah Shoemaker stuffed home his 3rd goal of the 1st half, giving the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead. The Cyclones fought back, as Johnny McBean was the playmaker, assisting on one, and scoring the other, tying the game at 4 early in the 2nd half. Things stayed tight for most of the half, but with about 6 minutes to go, Liam Culligan scored a couple of goals, and assisted on another, as the Bulldogs pulled out the victory by an 8-5 margin.
One of the most anticipated matchups of the day came mid-afternoon, when Skittles played Revision Vanquish for the Pee Wee Gold title. This game featured some of the best 14 year olds in the sport, and the action on the floor didn’t disappoint. The Skittles scored first, just over 30 seconds in, as Ezra Gale took a pass from Logan Gallaher and shot the puck past James Roberts of Vanquish. A few minutes later, Scott Bugarin answered with a goal of his own, knotting the score at 1. Things stayed that way until the 2nd half, when Clay Bozanich took over. He scored a hat trick in the half, sealing the victory for the Skittles. These will be 2 strong teams in Pee Wee at the NARCh Finals.
Our largest divisions of the event were Bantam and Squirt, with 10 teams each. The teams making it to the Bantam Gold final had to prove themselves against some tough competition this weekend, and the Skittles and Raiders Yellow did just that, each going 3-0 in the prelims, and winning their semifinal games. These 2 undefeated teams met to divvy up the medals. The game was a great one, as the teams played great defense, and for the most part kept their man in front of them, leading to shots that their respective goaltenders could handle. Very few mistakes were made in this game, but just like in the NHL, when they happen, they can easily lead to goals. This game was 2-1 at the half in favor of the Skittles, with goals by Martin Torres and Jonathan Panisa. Just a few minutes into the second half, Cady Vadeboncoeur scored to put them up 3-1. The Skittles then listened to everything coach Shayne Arsenault had to say, playing great defense, and limiting odd man rushes. These 2 evenly matched teams should see each other again in the playoffs up in San Jose at the end of June.
The insanity then began here in Huntington Beach, as we had a 2 hour period in which we had championship games taking place on all 3 rinks. First up was the Squirt Gold division, featuring 2 of the pre-tournament favorites, the Rockets ’04 and the Pama Cyclones ’05. This one started slowly, but turned out to be a high scoring affair, as shots were coming from all angles at the goaltenders. The Cyclones had Christian Kim show up for them, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the game. The Rockets were led by Pasha Bocharov, who scored a hat trick in the 1st half, and added 2 more in the 2nd half. With just a few minutes to go, goaltender Ella Park made a great glove save on a shot that looked destined for the net, and the Rockets were able to hang on, winning by a 6-5 margin.
The Bantam Silver final was simultaneously taking place back on rink 3, where the Raiders Green and Bulldogs were in a rematch from their game last night, which ended in a 2-2 tie. While I didn’t catch a lot of the game while on the other rink, I was able to walk over right as the buzzer was sounding, ending the 2nd half. Sure enough, the score was 2-2. Overtime was a great one, with the Raiders seeming to score with just a couple minutes to go… or so they thought. The net was pretty far off of the goal line, and the referee correctly disallowed the goal. This one went to a shootout. After 4 shooters, the shootout was tied with 2 goals apiece, so we went to a sudden death shootout. The Raiders sent Matti Lempiainen back onto the floor for a second shot after scoring in the first round, and he was able to repeat, with a beautiful goal. The Bulldogs answered with Donovan Gutierrez, who also repeated his first round magic with a nice goal. Back to the Raiders, who sent Tommy Tasigeorgos out, and he was able to score for the second time in the shootout, putting the pressure back on the Bulldogs. Erik Strong wasn’t able to repeat his first round magic, and the game ended with a Raiders victory. After these 2 games this weekend, one might say that these are 2 evenly matched teams!
We then ran over to rink 1 to see the Squirt Silver final conclude, with the Notion scoring late to finish off a 5-0 victory over Militia White. Logan Labadie of Notion was the player who put the puck in the net, and as it turns out, that was a hat trick for him, and a goal medal for all of his teammates. Kiera Tallas turned in the shutout effort.
Just a few minutes later, rink 2 was finishing up an all Pama Atom Silver battle, as the Cyclones Blue and the Cyclones 09 were skating their tails off. The Cyclones Blue were able to sneak 9 pucks past the younger 09 netminder, and they took home a shiny gold medal. The Cyclones 09 were a young team that should be proud of their effort, and have a silver medal to show for it.
Our final game of the event was happening back on rink 3, as the Temecula Valley Warriors earned a place in the final against Pama Cyclones ’08. The Cyclones dominated the competition all weekend, and continued that in the championship game. Colin Simpson scored 5 times, and both Cooper Soller and Aidan Yu had 4 points, as the Cyclones took home the last gold medal of the weekend. The Warriors avoided getting shutout in the game, as Riley Schmitz was able to put one past goaltender Morgan Stickney.
The regionals in Southern California are only 1/3 done, as we are back in Irvine for the largest qualifier of the season at the end of this month, then we make our way down to Escondido, just north of San Diego, to finish the season in June. Like we were announcing all day today, if your team wants to play in Irvine, make sure they register in the next day or two, as that tournament is already just about full.
We look forward to the Pittsburgh regional next week! Check out the site for all of the updates.