Yesterday was an incredible day of hockey. I found myself jumping from rink to rink, trying to catch the highlights of each close game. Since this is such a large event and there’s so much happening at once, I’ll recap the divisions that ended yesterday.
Squirts Division – Like I mentioned in my blog yesterday, this division was very tight and it became even more evident towards the finish. Silver was the only finish that was somewhat tilted. The San Diego Rockets revenged their loss in the prelims to the Alkali High Rollers in the silver semi by a score of 4-2 to land in the silver final. The Las Vegas Tour Rebels defeated the Puckhogs 2000 in the quarters, then Notion in the silver semi to get there. It would be a pretty physical championship for a squirt game and the Rebels found themselves in the box for much of the game. The Rockets capitalized on the power play and cruised to the title by a final of 9-2.
The gold and platinum championships were a different story, as both were highlight reel worthy championships. In Gold the Revision Puckhogs 99 took it to the San Jose Tsunami in one semi-final, while the Raiders Grey had a tougher time with the Jr Ducks Orange, but pulled it out 5-3. The Raiders would jump out to the early lead as Matthew Bevezowski netted 2 of the 3 goals to put them up 3-1 going into half. The Puckhogs would tighten up their defense in the second half and keep the Raiders off the board and popped two in to send the game into overtime tied at 3-3. Nobody would score in the 5-minute sudden death overtime, so this one would go to a shootout. Shootouts are unique to regional qualifiers, at the FINALS we keep rolling overtime until someone scores. In the end the Raiders needed a save by goaltender Porter Bartram, who would come up big and secure the gold for his team.
The squirt platinum championship was one of my favorite games of the day. There were some very talented kids on the rink for this one. Conner Duffy for the Raiders Red and Xander Rogers for Larger than Life than Life both stood on their heads to start the game and the Raiders went into the half with the lone tally, leading 1-0. Dylan Kammer came to life in the second half with two goals and a helper for Larger than Life. The Raiders Red also had two of their own, and we would go into over time tied 3-3, exactly like the gold championship. Players from both teams scored some nice shootout goals, but Larger than Life would go on to win it and take home gold. I’m sorting of hoping to see rematches of both of these title games in San Jose, as I personally prefer to play it out instead of a shootout. Shootouts are certainly exciting though!
Peewee Division – The Notion had a killer draw in the prelims, playing the Outcasts 97 and Revision Vanquish 99, the two teams that would eventually meet for the platinum championship. For this reason the lost two of their first three games and landed in silver. They cruised through the playoffs into the title game where they would meet the AZ Outcasts, who pulled out a close one against the OC Blades 99s. #69 for Notion, Aaron Mayer, was all over the score sheet in the championship with 5 points in the game and Notion would come out victorious over the Outcasts 8-1.
For peewee gold the Jr Ducks Orange would take care of NCR Elite in one semi-final while Mission/Bauer 97 and Anarchy Silver would battle it out for the other. This was also an awesome game that could have gone either way. The theme of the day was shootouts, and that’s exactly what it would take to find out who would play in the championship against the Ducks. Both goalies came up huge and didn’t give an inch. #12 Cooper Ensign would shoot 4th for the Mission/Bauer and score the lone goal to keep his team playing in the tournament.
Overtime would be needed once again to determine a winner in the gold championship between the Ducks and Mission/Bauer. Coincidentally it would be our 3rd title game of the day that would need overtime to determine a winner and each game would go into the extra frame tied at 3’s. In OT Ryan Barnes made an incredible point blank save for the Ducks and #7 Brenden Bixler would be the hero at the other end for the Ducks, scoring in OT and helping us avoid a 3rd championship shootout.
Two teams would meet in the platinum final with perfect records, the AZ Outcasts and Revision Vanquish 99. Outcasts defeated a very talented Anarchy Gold squad 3-1, and the Vanquish shut out the West Coast Warriors 3-0 in the semi-finals to advance. It’s pretty amazing to me that a squirt team could make it to the championship game in the peewee division of a solid 18-team field, but that’s exactly what the Vanquish accomplished. I think they’re the squirt platinum team to beat come NARCh FINALS in July. Having said that, #67 Alex MacDongald of the AZ Outcasts 97 scored twice and the Outcasts will take gold medals back to Arizona.
The only other division to end yesterday was our 6-team junior division. Red Army would defeat Beach Dude Inc in the playoffs to advance to the semi-final. Revision Vanquish would also advance to the semi by defeated Mission/Bauer Raiders White, 3-2. The top seeds would prevail in the semis though, and the AZ Outcasts and Mission/Bauer Raiders Gold would play for the title. The semi-final between the Mission Bauer Raiders Gold and Revision Vanquish was a great game that the Raiders pulled out in overtime. The Vanquish also tested the Outcasts in the prelims, 4-3. Outside of that game though, the Outcasts were clearly the best team in the division. They went on to shut out Raiders Gold in the championship 4-0. Pretty solid day for the Arizona Outcasts I’d say, with two teams taking home gold and another one silver.
The other divisional recaps will probably have to wait until Monday. To say there’s a lot going on today at Irvine Inline is an understatement. If you played and are already finished and back home or on your way, thanks for playing and we hope you had a great time!