Florida Regional Recap
Great kickoff to the regional season here at the Skatium in Ft. Myers.
Our first regional qualifier is in the books. It was a solid weekend in Southwest Florida. We had fun and certainly got to watch some exciting hockey. Here’s how each division played out.
Mite Division -
The Wellington Prowlers and Naples Lions are teams playing in their first NARCh Event. Their games with each other were competitive but when they played the Goalzillas and Lumpy Muffins the games were unfortunately lopsided. The Lions defeated the Prowlers 5-4 in the round robin, but in the silver championship game the Prowlers would come out on top 6-4. Both new teams left with medals, smiles, and a weekend full of tournament experience, so I’m sure they’ll be even more ready come next tourney.
The mite gold division would match up the Goalzillas and Mini Muffins. The Goalzillas are a big bunch of kids for 10 year olds and they used their size and strength to their advantage in most games. In the championship game they were just too much for the Mini Muffins and won the title fairly easily. I would love to see how this team compares to some of the better 10u teams around the country this summer in San Jose. I know it’s early in the season, but I think they’d be right in the hunt!
Squirt Division -
The Thunder dominated the competition in the prelims, scoring 27 goals for and allowing only 3 against. The Chiefs would defeat Goalzillas and Team X to land in the gold championship to face the Thunder. In the championship the Chiefs got on the board first with a penalty shot, but the balanced attack of the Thunder was just too much. Trevor Bednarek had 5 goals in the final and the Thunder won by the final of 11-3.
The squirt silver championship would be a balanced matchup between the Goalzillas and Team X. The Goalzillas defeated Team X in the prelims, and this one would need overtime to find a champion. Alex Brown scored his second of the game in overtime and the Goalzillas would defeat Team X for a second time by the same score, 4-3.
Peewee Division –
Tour Scorpions Silver rolled through the prelims only giving up 2 goals against. They’re toughest competition was the Mafia 98, who handled both the Goalzillas and Team X and would face them for the gold championship. Mafia is good but on the young side of peewees being 98’s. The Scorpions are great and will contend for a platinum title at the NARCh FINALS in San Jose. They would take the regional championship this weekend by a final of 6-2. Lucas Sowder and Nathan Smith would tally 3 points each in the effort for the Scorpions.
The peewee silver championship would see Goalzillas and Team X battle it out, a rematch from this morning. Goalzillas handled Team X earlier, but the championships a few hours later would be a different story, and our game of the tourney.
It looked as if Team X was going to take it somewhat easily, up by 2 goals with under a minute to go in the game. Appropriately named, Goalzillas applied a monster comeback, scoring 2 goals in the last minute to send the game into overtime tied at 5’s. Both teams had good chances in overtime but this one was destined for a shootout, and what a shootout it was!
Cayden Bailey stopped all 4 shooters from Team X, but James Fitzsimmons was also up to the challenge and did the same against every Goalzilla. Brandon Nunnick finally snuck one by Cayden, giving Team X the shootout advantage. Goalzillas could not find an answer for James Fitzsimmons, as he stopped the last shooter and Team X collected the gold.
Bantam Division -
6 teams made up a competitive bantam division. The Mafia 95 would go undefeated to land in the gold championship and would face the MoneyMakerz, who’s only blemish was a tie to the Roller Kings in the prelims. The Money Makerz have looked a little hot and cold this tourney, but they looked blazing hot in the championship game. Especially Zack Sword, who had 3 goals and an assist out of the 5 goals. You sort of got the sense that Mafia 95 was going to turn the table, but this is one of those rare games were it just didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, the better team on the floor for this 40-minute game won the championship and this upset will make for some interesting local tournaments through the spring and summer.
In the silver semis the Tour Scorpions would sneak by the Gulf Coast Storm 2-1 and the Roller Kings handled Team X pretty easily, 8-2 to set the stage for the championship. The Scorpions are mostly the peewees playing up with the addition of a few true bantams. They are a hard skating bunch that can also grind it out and in the championship the Roller Kings spent a little too much time in the box. They had their chances to score, but the Scorpions buried their opportunities and won by a final of 4-1.
Midget/Mens – We weren’t even sure we were going to have this division about 10 days ago and it turned out to be the best division of the tourney. We had a great mix of older talented guys that haven’t played for a while and also young platinum players giving up a few years in strength, but certainly not speed.
The BSHN Hammerheads and Assault would advance through the silver semis and battle for the title. The Assault is a little older squad and it took them a few games to get rolling. They lost a tight one last 6-5 to a talented and speeding UCF squad that is playing for the gold title as I type this. Their experience was just too much for the younger Hammerheads and the Assault rolled to a 7-2 victory. Cory McDonald and Nick Martini had two goals each in the effort.
In the gold semifinals the top-seeded Wolfpack got upset by UCF 6-3 and the Mafia pulled off a late rally and beat the Bradenton Blades 4-1. This was honestly a very good division and a handful of teams could have landed in the championship. In the end I think part of the reason the Mafia and UCF advanced to play each other is due to their overall team speed and balance. There’s not really a weak link on either squad.
As expected the championship was a fast well played game that honestly could have gone either way. Shots were even identical, but #3 for UCF, Joseph LaRocco had an eye for the net and had two goals, including the game winner. UCF won by a margin of 4-2 and will carry some momentum into the college nationals in Utah.
That’s a wrap here from the Skatium. I’m off to grab a well-earned burger and beer along with our refs and Mike Vickerman. We’ll try to get the video recap done in the next 24-48 hours to show everyone what they missed out on if they didn’t play, and re-live some of the fun for those that did.
Next stop, San Jose Qualifier in less than 2 weeks. It’s 50 plus teams and will be another great one.