East Coast Winternationals - Tournament Recap

110 games have come and gone here at Dreamsports Center and the East Coast Winternationals has come to a close.  We witnessed some phenomenal games and many roller hockey memories that will not be forgotten.  Here’s how each division played out.

CUB – 6u – as always, the little guys and girls lit the building with smiles when they took the rink.  Watching them play never gets old.  The Marple Gladiators took the championship over the Dreamsports Dragons White, while the Dragons Red finished 3rd.  They all left as winners though, with medals around their necks and ear-to-ear smiles, so it was a huge success.  I believe the parents are hooked too, so we’ll get a chance to watch many of these kids grow up at the rinks.

ATOMS – 8u – I touched on this division in yesterday’s blog with 3 teams tied with 2 wins and a loss.  Primetime Dragons Red and the Tour Roadrunners would face off in the gold final, while the Dragons White and Marple Gladiators would face off for silver.    In the gold championship the Roadrunners would avenge their round robin loss to the Dragons with a dominating performance from the atom top scorer #12 Zack Schwartz and the best skater in the division #5 Evan Edwards, by a final score of 7-4.   In the silver championship the Primetime Dragons White were a little too much for the Gladiators, which had many of their 6u champions skating up a division.  #77 Evan Boucher had 4 goals and #53 Brad McHugh had 3 in the winning effort.

MITES – 10u – In this 6 team division the BIRR and Carolina Force were the stand- out squads.  Neither team had lost a game heading into the gold final, so something had to give.  This was easily one of the best games of the tourney, with tons of scoring, great saves, and some very talented 10 yr olds giving it everything they had.   The game would go into halftime tied 4-4.  Every time the Force go up a goal the Black Ice Road Runners would answer right back.   BIRR would take the only 2-goal lead in the game in the 2nd, going up 7-5 on a pair of quick goals from #5 Frankie Jirak.  You just had a feeling by the way the game was going that the lead wouldn’t last, and it didn’t.  The Force would score the last two goals of the game to send us to overtime.  In OT #16 from the Force, Zack Robinson would find himself open in the slot and released a quick shot that would find the five hole, and the hometown Force would take home the title in this exciting 15-goal game.

The Dreamsports Dragons Red and Gladiators from PA would play for the mite silver title.   The Dragons Red would get a fast start, heading into half up 3-0.  The game would be back and forth and almost equal in shots, but Matthew Lockemy would come up with some big saves and the Dragons took the game 5-1.

SQUIRT – 12u – We had a lot of 5-team divisions this tourney, and the squirt division was one of them.  I personally like a 5-team format because everyone plays each other, which is consistent.   Everyone’s path to the championship is the same.   This division was unique because it would match up two local teams for the gold championship, the Dreamsports Dragons Black and TC 2000.  A common cliché’ in sports is that it’s hard to beat a good team twice.  In the prelims the Dragons got the best of TC 2000, but it was a close affair that ended 4-2.  The championship would also be tightly played, as I got a sense from watching that a lot of these kids have played with and against each other many times.  The game was knotted at 2-2 with just 2 minutes to play in regulation and I honestly thought we were heading to overtime, but as soon as that thought entered my mind #17 for TC, Colton Henley, sniped his 2nd of the game.  It would stick as the game winner and TC 2000 would win the cup and the title.

Squirt Silver would also match up two teams that know each other well.  The Black Ice and Tour Roadrunners are both from Long Island.  Black Ice was just a little too much for the Roadrunners in this one.  #91 Bryce Ruga and #11 Anthony Petito both had hat tricks in the championship for Black Ice, as they rolled through the championship 7-3.

PEEWEE – 14u – In this 6-team division the Speed, Black Dragons, and Purple Cobras would all end the prelims with 2 wins and a loss.  The Black Dragons would land in the gold championship by virtue of the goals against tiebreaker rule to face a very solid Tour Roadrunners 99/98 squad.   While these 3 teams are very similar in talent, the Roadrunners are on another level.  In the gold championship the Dragons could only manage 5 shots on the Roadrunners net, but their solid defense kept the game close.  The Tour Roadrunners would take the gold title by a final of 3-0.  All 3 goals were scored by #14 Max Romanowicz. 

The Purple Cobras and Raleigh Speed would face off for the peewee silver title.  These teams didn’t face each other in the prelims, but from the eye test I figured it would be a good game.   The only goal scored in the first half was by #15 Christian Roble to put the Purple Cobras up 1-0.  Things would open up a bit in the second, as both teams would have their share of odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances.  In the end it would be the Cobras who would end up on top, 4-2.   With 4 different goal scorers the Cobras showcased a balanced attack.

BANTAM -16u – This 5 team division was one of the most intriguing to me, due to the parity.  Black Ice was a notch better than the rest, but the other 4 teams were equal and we witnessed some extremely competitive games.  Alkali Assault 98 was heading into their 3rd game of the tourney against the undefeated Mission Black Ice and they looked to be the odd man out of the playoffs, with a tie to the Roadrunners 96/97 and loss to the other Assault team, 3-2.  They played very inspired hockey against Black Ice and pulled out a tie, which meant the older Assault team that they lost to would be the one’s left out.    The gold championship would match Black Ice vs the Tour Roadrunners 96/97.   Joseph Mula would score less than a minute into the game, and this pretty much set the tone for Black Ice.   The Roadrunners would score a few late goals in the game to keep it respectable, but Black Ice would take the bantam gold championship by a final of 7-3.

The silver championship would match up two peewee platinum teams that were playing up, Alkali Assault 98 and Tour Roadrunners 99/98.  The Roadrunners had already won the peewee title, but the Assault 98’s were only playing up in bantam as their full team.   These two are true heavyweight platinum peewee teams, so I was looking forward to this one.  The game was like a good fight, matching different styles.  The Roadrunners playing a puck possession game and picking their spots to attack and the Assault wanting to run-and-gun a little more.    There was one shift that the Roadrunners must have missed 3 open nets and hit a bar in a 30 second span.   Despite the crazy pressure they would only take a 3-2 lead into half.   The Assault would play great defense in the second half and keep the Roadrunners off the scoreboard.  The game would be knotted at 3’s and I thought for sure we would see another overtime, but with just :37 seconds on the clock #78 Jared Medwar would be the hero for the Assault.  Final score, 4-3.

MIDGET – 18u- Mission Black Ice would once again find themselves on top of the division, scoring 27 goals and only allowing 5 while winning all 4 games.  They would face the Alkali Assault for the gold championship.  Alkali’s only loss was to Black Ice, 4-0.  The championship would play out in similar fashion, as Black Ice does not have a weak spot.  #16 Tyler Craft would have a hat trick in the championship and Stephen Mundinger is huge and athletic, which is a great combination if you’re a goaltender.   The Alkali Assault team is good, but Black Ice is great.  Final score 7-3.

The silver championship would be a rematch of a round robin tie between the Detroit Bordercats and Nightmare.   This would prove to be our chippiest final of the tourney.  With 11 penalties between the two teams, much of the game would be decided on the powerplay.  Daniel Schmidt was the dish man for the Bordercats, as he assisted on the last 3 goals and the Bordercats won by a final of 5-1.

JUNIOR -21u- This was a solid 5-team division.  Dusters United would not win a game, but they lost two 1-goal games and were competitive in all 4 games.  No team would end up undefeated.   Alkali Assault and Mission Black Ice would meet in the gold championship by winning 3 of their 4 preliminary games.  This championship would be the tale of two halves.  #91 for the Assault, Vinny Cafone, came out flying and single handedly put his team up 3-0 in the first half with a natural hat trick.  Whatever Jason Muro told his team at half had a definite impact, and it was a different Black Ice team in the second half, scoring 3 goals of their own while keeping the Assault off the board.  We would head to overtime to crown our junior gold champion.  In OT it didn’t last long, as #20 Nicholas Lang would snipe his second of the game for Mission Black Ice.  Black Ice would complete the bantam-midget-junior title sweep. 

The Tour Roadrunners and Detroit Bordercats would face off for the junior silver title.  If I have to be honest, this game lacked a little energy, as almost all of these players were playing multiple divisions.   If we had a player-of-the-game award it would have went to Roadrunners Goalie Keith Johson, who saved 35 of the 38 shots he faced.  Subsequently he would also take the top-goalie honors for the junior division, even though he was on the losing end of most games.  The Bordercats would win their second silver title of the tournament, as they went on to victory in this low scoring affair by a final of 3-1.

MENS – This 10 team division was awesome!  You always worry with a split division that the right teams end up at the top playing for gold.  With 10 teams and so many unknown rosters, this is not always easy.  It worked out perfect in my opinion, as the top 4 teams would end up: #1 Alkali Asylum #2 Alkali Impulse #3 Tour Roadrunners #4 Alkali Assault White.  These truly were the teams deepest in talent.  Both top seeds would prevail in the gold semifinals, as the Asylum defeated the Assault White 7-4 and the Impulse would take care of the Roadrunners 4-2.   The Asylum and Impulse both have rosters loaded with talent, so the championship was basically a NARCh Pro Game.   The Asylum had a deeper bench and won the small battles to the loose pucks.   #87 for the Asylum, Rowan Porter, is a spark plug, both on the rink and on the bench.  He would score the first goal and the last goal for the Asylum, as they went on to the gold title by a final of 4-2.

The men’s silver division proved to be very competitive once the gold teams were out of the mix.   The Buffalo Trace medaled in this event last year and just missed the championship in this one.  They won an overtime thriller against the Roadrunners 5-4, then lost in an overtime thriller 5-4 to the Assault Black.  The Mapleleafs would take care of Napalm 6-4, then defeat Soldier McGee 5-2 to set up our silver championship.   As expected, this would be our last of many thrilling championships throughout this event.   The game would be tied 1-1 at half, then 3-3 late in the game.  With just under 3 minutes remaining #91 of the Maple Leafs, Patrick Giesecke would put the Leafs up a goal.  The Assault Black applied a lot of pressure at the end of the game with a pulled-goalie and extra attacker, but the Leafs defense and a couple of selfless blocked shots would secure the victory, 4-3.

I would like to personally thank Steve Werner and the Dreamsports Staff for being a great host.  Also all of my staff that put in countless hours to carry on the tradition that we’ve set with NARCh of running the best tournaments that the sport has to offer.  Of course none of this could happen without the players, parents, and coaches, so if you played in the NARCh East Coast Winters, we thank you.

Next up, the Regional Qualifiers!!!!