By Alex Morrison
The first Saturday night of the Finals was a wild one. From the Cub Skills competition to the end of the Mite Silver/Club prelims to a Pee Wee Silver double OT thriller to Midget Silver playoff seedings, we were not lacking drama at the Sportsplex.
Let’s start things off with the Cubs. We had almost 40 kids on the floor for the skills competition, all so very excited to be part of the event. The fastest skater competition was a blast, as 8 kids skated their tails off for 4 rounds, with very encouraging parents and spectators cheering them on. The atmosphere was among the best I have ever seen in this building. Right before the shootout, the NARCh Bear made an appearance and had some fun with the kids. Check out the pictures on the Facebook page to see some great moments that were captured by Daryn.
In the Mite Division, we had a race for the number one seed involving Las Vegas and KIHA from Hawaii. Hawaii only allowed 1 goal in their last game, meaning that if Las Vegas gave up 3, we would have a tie in goals against, and 4 against would send the Warriors to #1 after the preliminary round. Vegas did just enough to hold their opponent to 2 goals, earning the Rebels the coveted top seed.
A really neat thing happened at around 9:30pm. I was standing in front of the Tour booth, located basically at the center of the 3 rinks here, and looked around. Each rink had just started the second half of their Pee Wee Silver playoff game, and all 3 games were within one goal. I was at the point that I didn’t want to leave the spot I was standing, because I could get the best feel for what was going on right where I was standing. Once games got right down to the wire, rinks 1 and 3 had late goals to spread the leads to 2 goals. That’s when I migrated to rink 2. This game had been rough and tough from the initial puck drop. At one point, this game involving the Riot and AZ Outcasts had been played 3 on 2 because of penalties. With less than a minute left in the game, the Riot had pulled their goalie, as they were down by a goal, and ended up tying the game. We went to OT, where the Outcasts looked like they were going to end it a few different times. They didn’t seal the deal, sending the game to a second OT. Late in the period, an Outcasts defenseman lowered his shoulder right into the chest of a Riot player, sending him sprawling to the ground. The Outcasts almost ended the game on a short handed breakaway right off the faceoff, but the Riot ended up recovering and scoring with less than a minute to go to win the game. That game had the most excitement of any game of the 148 played so far!
We ended the night with Bantam and Midget games, which had their own great moments. The best one I was lucky enough to witness was the Capitals from Colombia scoring with the goalie pulled in the last seconds of their game against Anarchy to tie it. They were very excited!
Sunday should be another good day, as we are filled with playoff games and skills competitions. Look for more updates from San Jose.