Putting a bow on Winternationals

By Jeremy Ellis

So here it is Monday night and I am at the airport waiting for my flight back to the Windy City.  Lots of memories stick out from this great event we all witnessed this weekend.  I always love seeing Silver Creek when I arrive in San Jose, but I get excited to head back home to see my family when it is all said and done.  Kudos once again to all the facility staff for keeping such a large event running so smoothly, it is definitely a large task. Special shout out to Brian Roh for hooking me up with a stick to play old man hockey this weekend!

Well, we have given out recaps of most of the divisions, but I thought we could finish up with today’s action and also make mention of all the individual award winners throughout the tournament. 

So here goes….

Approximately 3 hours of lights out took place at the rink between Sunday nights end and the start of Monday morning.  It kicked off with the Atom division and one Junior game dropping the puck on three rinks.  The first championship took place on Rink 1 with the Mite Gold Final.  As mentioned in a previous blog, the Delta River Rats showed that they meant business all tournament long. A lone tie against the San Jose Inline sharks during round robin was their only blemish all tournament.  In the final, they once again jumped on an opponent early.  Adding a few more goals as they went, the River Rats were able to play puck possession and close out a gold medal winning performance against the silver medalists AKS 02.  The River Rats were led by Dominic Hofferber, who won the division top scorer award. Of note, top goalie and top scorer are determined by statistics accumulated in round robin play only.  The top goalie of this division went to AKS 02 tender Anthony Nemeth, who finished with a 85% save percentage.

In the silver bracket, the Reebok Jr Ducks Orange and AKS 03 locked horns.  AKS 03 brought home the hardware for the AKS program by shutting down the Ducks 3-1

Next up was the Atom Gold final between the Anarchy and AKS.  These two teams were on a collision course ever since they met in the first game of round robin which resulted in a 6 all tie.  This one was once again a high scoring affair as a good amount of future roller hockey talent was displayed.  It was back and forth until the 2nd seed AKS took out Anarchy 9-4.  Over on the silver side of Atoms, the KIHA warriors program placed another finalist, this time up against the San Jose inline Sharks.  The Sharks continued their high scoring ways and were able to wrap up the division gold medal, outscoring the warriors.  This division lit the lamp more than any other during the tournament and this was evident in the individual awards.  Anthony Yu of the anarchy wrapped up an impressive prelim with 27 goals and 5 assists to earn top scorer.  The goalies faced a whole bunch of plastic all weekend, but in the end it was Chad Gozzo of the anarchy that saved a higher percentage than any other goalie.

Womens silver and gold divisions took to the floor next. The division was comprised of 6 teams, so the playoffs seeded out into two championship games.  In Silver, Alkali RPD and Pandemonium rematched the last round robin game in which they tied.  In this one it was RPD outpointing Pandemonium 5-1.  In the gold division final, the action was intense as always. The Revision Vanquish, a perennial womens power, squared off against Dangl Los Angeles.  Revision had the division top scorer, Courtney Orner(6G, 6A) while Dangl had the top goalie, Lea Amendariz.  In the end, offense won out, but only slightly.  Final score Revision 2 and the team Dangl 1.

Four division and six games remained as we headed into the home stretch.  Finishing out the mens division was the Gold final.  Hockey House Army and the KIHA Warriors tangled in an epic contest.  Hockey House held a slim one goal lead in the waning minutes of this one.  Never ones to roll over, the Warriors stormed back to tie it, getting the equalizer with under 2 minutes remaining.  The seconds ticked and this one appeared destined for overtime.  However, KIHA forced the play, jumping their defenders into the offensive end.  The army tender turned away the opportunity and as the Army gathered the loose puck, one crisp breakout pass resulted in a breakaway for sniper Tyler Martins.  The division top scorer made the Warriors pay on this one, scoring on the backhand with only 11 seconds left.  Martins took home the top scorer trophy with 4 goals and 4 assists.  Top goalie honors went to the NorCal Extreme tandem of Gokalp Gurer and Eddie Berlin.

The Junior division was broken into gold and silver brackets and those games came up next as the championship games were now dispersed among 3 rinks.  The gold final featured the Hockey House Army and the Mission/Bauer AZ Outcasts.  Coach Nick of the Outcasts had his troops fired up to take down the army and they did so by a count of 6-2.  The silver bracket saw KIHA Warriors and Revision Vanquish going at each other.  KIHA rode hot goaltending to the victory shutting out the Vanquish 4 nil.  As for individual awards, the Outcasts swept both categories.  The top scorer with 5 goals and 3 assists, Andrew Tamura.  The top goaltender from the Outcasts, Greg Hamm, turned away 85% of the shots he faced.  This division will be tightly contested throughout all skill levels at Finals this summer and I cannot wait to check it out.

The Midget division sported 13 teams, more than enough to split the playoffs and trophies up into a silver and gold bracket.  The Revision Vanquish dominated Round Robin, not allowing a single goal in 4 games en route to the final.  With this performance, goaltender Blake Ducker took home top goaltender. This division featured some of the best netminding all tournament, as Labeda XDH goalie Loren Roach also did not allow a tally during round robin. In a rarity, we had to go to the next playoff game to determine the final top goalie award winner.  In the final, Ducker came up big once again, keeping the lid on the net almost airtight as the Vanquish held on to defeat the Bandits Hockey Club by a final of 2-1.  The silver division final saw the KIHA Warriors finally breaking through to earn gold against the San Jose Quakes by a final score of 4-1. It was the second gold medal in all divisions for the Warriors, who place numerous teams deep in the playoffs throughout all divisions.  Top scorer here in Midget was Stephen Verstegen of the Vanquish who tallied 7 goals and 7 assists.

Last but not least today, the Ben-Gay division, Over 35.  Unfortunately, my Outlaws team came up short in the playoffs as we were defeated by the KIHA Warriors graybeards.  KIHA went on to face Team Labeda in the final, with the matchup pitting some of the bigger contributors to the sport over the years, facing off.  Team Labeda was able to use puck possession to melt away the final minutes in this one and took home the gold with a 3-2 victory over the Warriors.  In a highly controversial statistical count, Labeda’s Rob Chornumud earned top scorer with 2 goals and 7 assists.  The player consensus demanded a recount! Top goalie was from my Outlaws, Chris Bradford, who benefitted from our constant Ole defense.  Great work Chris.

Well that will do it from the kickoff event for this year’s NARCh Tourney schedule.  It all ends in July north of the border in Toronto.  I look forward to seeing a lot of the faces from this event there.  In all, 16 more regionals will take place and then the 2013 Finals.  We will travel to all corners of this country and even Canada as teams compete to qualify for the season ender.  NARCh is the “World’s Greatest Roller Hockey” but it is such based on all the players and the families that make it possible.  Thank you once again for playing this event, travel safe, and I hope to see you all at the rink very soon! Cheers….