Winternationals Wrap Up.

By Lonny Lovins

DAY 3

Sunday was moving day for a lot of teams.  Some packed up and went home, some put in brilliant efforts in their round robin games, while others punched their tickets to our exciting finals.  Here is a rundown of the divisions that finished today, as well as a couple recaps of my favorite games.

CUBS – While this division might bring the fewest amount of teams, our rising stars always bring out the most fans.  Often times the cheering is so thunderous for these little tykes, you might think the pros are playing.  The round robin was a very close as only 1 goal against separated the top seeded SJ Inline Sharks White, and the SJ Inline Sharks Black.  After playing to a tie in their first game, the SJIS Black team found themselves playing against the SJIS White team in the final.  The scoring started early and remained steady for the SJIS White team as they scored less than a minute into the game.  They continued to pour on the pressure, scoring 3 more times and and carrying a 4-1 lead going into the second period.  It looked as if the game might continue in this fashion, as the white team again scored early in the second period.  However, the black team found their legs and scored the next 3 goals to make a game out of it.  Unfortunately the late push could not overcome the hole that the SJIS black team had put themselves in.  The final score: SJIS White 6 to 5 over SJIS Black.

SQUIRT GOLDSquirt gold consisted of our top 4 teams out of the round robin.  While the top two teams were easy to seed thanks to both having 3-0 records in the prelims, the next 2 teams to round out the gold division were a lot harder to find.  Seeds 3-8 were separated by 2 goals against.  After going through a majority of our tie breakers, we finally had our gold playoffs set.  Our 1 v 4 would be the #1 HB Alkali Militia against the #4 seeded KIHA Warriors.  Our seeding was clearly an indication of how close these games should be, and this game did not disappoint, as HB squeaked out a 4-3 win, propelling them to the final.  Our 2v3 game, showcased the Revision Revolution Black squad against an upstart CCM Bulldog team.  This was a hard played game, as both teams felt they belonged in the final, however it was the Revolution that grabbed the reigns to the game, and skated to a 4-1 victory.

The final had all the makings of a good game on paper.  1st seed vs 2nd seed for the Winternationals title in Squirt Gold.  The Revolution came out flying, scoring quickly and never letting off the gas.  They carried a solid 2-0 lead into the 2nd half, and never looked back.  They continued to put on the pressure and hammer home the goals as they breezed to a 7-0 victory.

SQUIRT SILVER – The road to the silver final was a minefield.  There were so many closely matched teams that it could have been anyone’s for the taking.  2 teams stood out above the rest, and that was the Delta River Rats, who were seeded 5th overall in the Squirt division, and the Silicon Valley Quakes who were seeded 6th.  These teams were feeling a little bummed about not making the Squirt gold playoffs, and they took out their anger on all of the other teams in the division on their way to the final.  The final looked like it was going to be a snoozer as the Quakes got on the board late in the first period to break a scoreless tie.  The Quakes would add a second goal and hold a 2-0 advantage going into the half.  The Delta River Rats would not go away.  They came out hard in the 2nd period, finally breaking through and getting on the board about mid way through the 2nd.  With blood in the water, the River Rats continued their relentless assault on the Quakes net, but their goal tender was up to the task.  Late in the 2nd period, the River Rats would get the equalizer and send this game into over time.  Overtime was a back and forth affair as each team had their chances.  Finally momentum started to build, and the River Rats looked like they might complete the miracle comeback, but it would be the Quakes who would seize the moment as they scored late into the first over time period to bring home the gold.  Final Score: Quakes 3 – River Rats 2 in OT.

PEEWEE GOLD – Peewee gold was a little bit easier to figure out, as the teams were separated by a few more points.  While the seeding was easier for the Peewee gold games, the road to the final was not.  The top seeded Tsunami Red team beat a very good Hockey House Army team to get into the finals, while the KIHA Warriors came out a little flat, and lost to a very hungry CCM Bulldogs team.  This gave us our final game matching the Tsunami Red team against the CCM Bulldogs Yellow team.  Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they used up most of their magic in the playoff game against KIHA, because they had none left for the final.  The Tsunami team controlled the pace of play and the game, scoring 2 goals early, and adding a couple of empty net goals late.  Final Score:  Tsuanami Red 4, CCM Bulldogs Yellow 0.

PEEWEE SILVER – The Peewee silver games had a fun finale, as the 7th seeded SJ Inline Sharks upset a couple of teams to get into the final, while the Militia came in and steamrolled their way to the final game.  The Militia found the net early in the game and built a 2 goal lead, unfortunately for them, those were the only goals they would score.  The SJ Inline Sharks would come roaring back, scoring 5 unanswered and taking home more hardware for their program.  Final Score: SJ Inline Sharks 5, Militia 2.

BANTAM GOLD – Bantam Gold gave us one of the best finals games of the night, as the KIHA Warriors played against the Hockey House Army Bantam team.  Hockey House got on the board quickly scoring less than 2 minutes into the game.  KIHA not to be outdone would come back scoring 3 goals late in the period.  They would take the 3-1 lead into the 2nd period.  Hockey House opened up the scoring in the 2nd period early, tightening up the game a bit.  The equalizer would come from hockey house mid way through the period, and the rest of the game would be a dog fight.  There were a ton of chances for both squads late in the game, but both goalies were equal to the task.  It would take over time to settle the game.   Hockey House would take an ill advised penalty early in OT, and it wouldn’t take long for KIHA to capitalize.  The Hockey house goaltender made 3 or 4 initial saves, but it was just too much for him to handle, as the KIHA forward buried the rebound and captured the gold medal for his team.  Final Score: KIHA Warriors 4, Hockey House Army 3.

BANTAM SILVER – The Bantam Silver final featured a couple of grindy teams that found their way through Bantams in the same fashion.  Bender Nation played a tough schedule and had to put their heads down and push through a clouded playoff pool to get to the final.  The Cal Rollers found themselves in a similar situation as they also had to navigate daintily through the playoffs to secure a spot in the final.  The final didn’t play out quite as spectacularly as was hoped, as the Bender Nation team got on the board with 3 first period goals.  It was all they would need, as they coasted easily to a 7-2 victory.  Final Score:  Bender Nation 7, Cal Rollers 2.

MEN’S PLATINUM – The Men’s Platinum Division featured 5 teams, 2 of which had won the NARCh finals gold before.  The 5 teams were strong but only two would make it out of the division and get to compete for the gold medals and the adult beverage drinking goblet.  The two teams that played the best and found themselves in the final, were the local team The Happy Campers and their southern California rival, Red Army.  Both of these teams have a lot of offensive punch, but it was the defenses and the goaltenders that shined in this final.  Red Army would take a 1-0 lead mid way through the first, and add another goal shortly after.  The rest of the period would be hard fought on both ends but no more goals would be scored.  Red Army would skate into the 2nd period up 2 – 0.  THC would fight hard in the 2nd, throwing a ton of chances at the net, and even adding a goal, but it would be to no avail as Red Army would play a tight checking game, and cling to their 2-1 lead and ultimately raise the cup.  Final Score : Red Army 2, THC 1.

MEN’S SILVER - Our Men’s Silver final featured two foreign teams playing for gold medals and glory.  The Hockey House Army team from Canada, and the Alkali South America team.  This game seemed to start off rather slowly as both teams seemed to be feeling the other out.  Neither team wanted to break as they continued to regroup and never really push the pace of play.  This would result in the first period ending in a 0-0 tie.  In the 2nd period, the Hockey House Army team came out with a different swagger, as they scored 2 quick goals.  Judging by the first period, everyone assumed that this game was over at that point, but the Alkali team would come right back with 3 straight goals in 3 minutes to shockingly take a lead.  Hockey House Army would push the play from this point forward throwing everything they could at the net, but nothing seemed to be dropping for them.  Alkali would help the Hockey House cause, as they took two bad penalties late in the game to give Hockey House the opening they needed.  Hockey House would score with 12 seconds left in the game to force OT.  OT would end rather quickly, as Hockey House would score on a bad angle goal and take some hardware North of the border.

MEN’S BRONZE – This division had a ton of teams that were playing for the first time in a NARCh tournament together.  As I mentioned the other night, it is a lot of fun seeing new faces come into the sport no matter what the age might be.  While they may not necessarily be new to the sport, new to the tournament scene is just as cool.  While I know a few of the players on the teams in the finals, many of the guys are a mystery to me.  The finals brought us the SD Beemers and Merge.  Merge underachieved a bit through the prelims and found themselves in the Bronze finals, where they finally found their stride.  Unfortunately for the SD Beemers they were at the mercy of Merge the entire game.  Merge were relentless and wanted to bring back a little of the pride they lost earlier in the round robin.  They rained down 8 goals and cruised easily to an 8-2 victory.  Final Score: Merge 8, SD Beemers 2.

PRO - The Pro division brings with it a lot of excitement.  They bring the big crowds, the big sponsors, and the big dreams for the young hockey player growing up.  In the Pro division, we had 4 teams come out of the round robin and make the playoffs.  These games were as fast paced, and as intense as you could have asked for.

The first pro semi-final paired up the PAMA Alkali Cyclones, and the upstart Las Vegas Tour Rebels.  The Cyclones played especially tough in round robin play, and found themselves against a Rebels team that had garnered little respect, and had surprised a lot of people along the way.  If there was little respect for the Rebels from the Cyclones side, it quickly dissipated as both teams found themselves in a tough scrum for this game.  There was a lot of action but very little scoring for the first 8 minutes and change in the first period.  That changed at 6:16 left in the first, as #9 Zach Walters scored the first goal of the game, with an assist from #61 Joey Doran.  If the Cyclones felt they had breathing room, that feeling quickly went away as the Rebels tied the score less than a minute later on a goal by #17 Will Heinze.  The teams would play tough for the rest of the period, but the first half would end in 1-1 tie.  The 2nd period brought us a bit quicker action, as the Cyclones got on the board early with a goal by #53 Patrick Lee that was assisted by #20 Rob Alexander.  The Cyclones would cling to their lead until the Rebels #27 Billy Tufano was found by #87 Micah Sanford to tie the game at 2 apiece.  The tie would be short lived, as the Cyclones would score with about 6:23 left in the game to take the lead on a goal by #17 Stephen Campbell.  The Rebels would try and scrap their way back into the game, but a bad roughing penalty by #87 Micah Sanford, and a Cyclones PP goal by #53 Patrick Lee, would seal the deal.  The Cyclones would punch their ticket to the final by a score of 4-2.

The second pro semi-final featured two teams that didn’t care for each other much in the Tour Mudcats and the SJC Blazers.  This game was full of action and undisciplined play from both teams, as it was one of the few games that featured more penalties than goals.  The Blazers came out fast, as they scored a goal roughly two minutes into the game.  #15 Nathan Sigmund found the back of the net on a good play from teammate #9 Kirk French.  The first period would see a couple of penalties, but no more scoring as it ended 1-0.  If there was ever a tale of two halves for a game, this was it.  Off the opening face off in the second period, the Mudcats took the puck and fired home a quick goal to tie the game.  #9 CJ Yoder got an assist on the goal to #61 Brennan Luscombe.  The Blazers seemed to be unfazed, as they continued their strong play and eventually scored the go ahead goal at 7:28 of the second half.  #10 Kevin Adams was the recipient of the goal on a play by #15 Nathan Sigmund.  From this point on, the Blazers were skating with confidence, enough confidence to find an insurance goal at 4:46 of the 2nd by #19 Dan Comrie which was assisted by #9 Kirk French.  The way the game had gone, this seemed like it would be all she wrote on the Mudcats, until at 2:10 in the 2nd, a holding call was assessed to #23 Jaime Cooke.  The Mudcats quickly went to work on the power play, earning a 2 man advantage on a mindless and gut wrenching penalty to #9 Kirk French.  From there it was all business, as the Mudcats cut the lead by 1 less than 10 seconds into the 2 man advantage on a goal by #20 Joe Bostic.  After a timeout, the Mudcats again went back to work on the power play, moving the puck around with little effort.  With about a minute left in the game, #9 CJ Yoder would find #98 Casey Escarcega for the game tying goal.  On to overtime we would go.  Feeling like they were playing with house money, the Mudcats played cool and collected.  About 2 minutes into overtime, #9 CJ Yoder would again find Mudcats sniper #98 Casey Escarcega for the game winner.  Final Score Tour Mudcats 4, SJC Blazers 3 OT.

Our Pro final gave us a match up of two teams that are more than familiar with each other in the PAMA Alkali Cyclones, and the Tour Mudcats.  This game had a little of everything, as these teams fought it out for Pro dominance.  The Cyclones, with a new fresh looking neon yellow racing stripe added to their jersey, came out of the gates hustling as they put up a quick tally on a goal by #77 Gerry Osterkamp.  The game would then become a game of goaltending as Brett Leggat stopped shot after shot from the Cyclones.  The hard work and no quit of the Mudcats would pay off, as #47 Cory Kettler took a high sticking penalty mid way through the 1st half.  The Mudcats deadly power play unit jumped on the floor and went to work.  Moving the puck around quickly, #24 Alex Carroll would find #20 Joe Bostic for the equalizer, and again we had a game on our hands.  The game would remain tied until under a minute left in the 1st half.  The Cyclones would take the lead on a goal by #14 Cody Baugh on a nice play from #71 Cody Kettler.  At almost any level of hockey, you find that when you give up a goal with less than a minute to play in a period, it deflates your squad a bit and makes it hard to come back from.  In this case it seemed as if this is what happened to the Mudcats.  After all their hard work and grinding, they just couldn’t find the gas any more to get that game tying goal.  The 2nd period played to a lot of good goaltending as neither team could find the net.  The Cyclones would add an empty netter late in the game to cement their victory and add to their legacy.  Final Score: PAMA Alkali Cyclones 3, Tour Mudcats 1.

DAY 4

Our kick-off to the 2014 NARCh season came to a close on Monday, and the action couldn’t have been better.  Sunday provided us with some great playoff games and some amazing finals, so naturally, Monday had to step it up a notch. 

WOMEN’S – Our women’s teams are some of the most fiery teams you will see at the tournament.  Their hard work and dedication shows in every game they play, as the division has continued to get better and better over the past few years.  This year at Winternational’s it was tough for all of the teams involved, because there were a lot of teams fighting for just 4 playoff spots.  Once the dust settled, we had the Alkali Scraps playing against the KIHA Warriors in the Women’s Silver final, and the Revision Vanquish playing against Dangl LA in the Women’s Gold final. 

In the silver final, Alkali started off quick, scoring their first goal less than a minute into the game.  The Scraps would hold this lead throughout the first period until early in the second when the KIHA Warrior ladies would tie the game.  At this point it was dogfight, as both teams had good chances, but held defensively.  Late in the game, KIHA would take an undisciplined penalty to put the Alkali Scraps on the powerplay.  KIHA’s penalty kill was holding strong, and this game looked as if it might head to OT, when Alkali gathered a loose puck late in the powerplay, and fired it home.  With the tight checking style of this game, there just wasn’t enough time left for KIHA to mount the late comeback.  Alkali would add an empty net goal and bring home the cup.  Final score: Alkal Scraps 3, KIHA Warriors 1.

The Women’s Gold final was very entertaining as again we had a defensive stalemate between the two teams.  Revision Vanquish breezed through the preliminary rounds, and met up with a scrappy Dangl LA team that had something to prove.  Both teams felt each other out for about half a period, until Dangl LA broke through with a goal midway through the 1st period.  The game would stay 1 – 0 as both goalies played really well, denying multiple chances.  The 2nd period played out much the way the first did, until about halfway through, Vanquish found the equalizer on a nice play.  The gals would skate hard, and regulation would end in a 1-1 tie.  Early in the overtime, an overly aggressive Vanquish team would find themselves on the wrong end of a penalty.  Dangl would set up a nice powerplay, and throw a ton of chances at the net.  Nothing seemed to be going in as Vanquish’s goalie continued her stellar play.  With roughly 20 seconds left in the powerplay, Dangl would set up one more time.  With quick end zone puck movement, Dangl’s defense would find the shot she was looking for, putting a nice shot over Vanquish’s goalie, to win the game.  Final Score: Dangl LA 2, Revision Vanquish 1 in Overtime.

ATOM DIVISION – The Atom Silver finale featured the OC Alliance, and the Silicon Valley Quakes.  In a division of 3 really strong teams, the Silicon Valley Quakes found themselves as the odd team out.  The OC Alliance came out really strong as they peppered the Quakes netminder with shot after shot.  The Alliance finally broke through with a goal at 6:43 of the first period.  From there, the flood gates opened as the Alliance did not let up pouring in 5 more goals before the period was over.  The Quakes would try to mount a comeback in the 2nd period, but it was too little too late as the Alliance had the answers and continued to put pucks in the net.  In the end the Alliance team would be too much to handle and they cruised easily to an 11-4 victory over the Quakes.

The Atom Gold final had two local rivals playing against each other.  The Delta River Rats against the SJ Inline Sharks.  The Delta River Rats are known for being really good at growing young talent, and this Atom team is no different.  They came in as the home team in this final and had high hopes.  The SJ Inline Sharks are a relatively new program that are still cutting their teeth in tournament play, but they have grown by leaps and bounds in their first couple of seasons.  This game was going to be a dogfight from the beginning, as both teams came out strong.  The Inline Sharks would get on the board first with a quick goal.  Their lead would not last long, as less than a minute later, the Delta River Rats would score to even the game.  The score would remain 1-1 for much of the first, until The River Rats found themselves short handed late.  It wouldn’t take long for the Inline Sharks to capitalize, as they moved the puck very well and scored with relative ease.  The 1st period would end with the Sharks holding a 2-1 lead.  The 2nd period was a grind as both teams tightened up defensively for the first half.  Late in the 2nd, the Sharks would capitalize again on some great passing and solid forward play.  It would be all that they would need, as the River Rats were unable to muster up any more offense.  Final Score: Sharks 3, River Rats 1.

MIDGET DIVISION – Our 3rd group of finals for the day started with the Midget Division Silver final.  This game featured a couple of upstart teams in the Verbero Voltage and the Revision Revolution.  Both teams worked really hard through the preliminary rounds, and found themselves in really tight games in the semis to make the final.  However, you wouldn’t know it by their play in the final.  Each team came out refreshed and fast, looking about as good as you could expect them to at this point in the tournament.  The Revolution got on the board first roughly 30 seconds into the game, and appeared to really be carrying the play, as they won multiple battles for loose pucks, and kept the Voltage busy guessing which way they would go next.  The Voltage got frustrated, and took a penalty mid way through the first period.  The Revolution, sensing blood in the water, capitalized quickly with the man advantage, and were cruising until a late turnover ended up in their own net at 2:17 in the 1st.  This seemed to take a little steam out of the Revolution as they never got the momentum back.  Verbero would score with roughly 5 minutes left to tie the game.  From this point on, the Voltage moved throughout both zones as they pleased taking the game back to the Revolution.  The Voltage would break the tie with 2:21 left in the game, and never look back.  Final Score: Verbero Voltage 3, Revision Revolution 2.

The Midget Gold final feature two very fast, good puck moving teams, in the KIHA Warriors and the Mission Raiders Green.  Judging by the way these two teams had played throughout the weekend, I would have guessed this game would have been a lot different than it turned out to be.  The Raiders came out like gangbusters from the drop of the puck.  They scored early and often putting away 5 goals in the first period.  KIHA, for all the work that they had done, could not muster any offense in this game, as they rarely threatened the net.  The Raiders added another goal in the 2nd and in the end just proved too skilled for KIHA to over come.  Final Score Mission Raiders Green 6, KIHA Warriors 0.

MITE DIVISION - The teams in the Mite division are very streaky.  Sometimes their top players will score all the goals they need, and other times their players can’t seem to figure out how to solve the defense laid out before them.  Our two finals for the Mite division were one sided affairs. 

In the Mite Silver final, we saw the AKS team face off against the Anarchy team.  Both of these teams seem to know each other pretty well, and on this day, it was the AKS team that figured out their counter part.  AKS played strongly from the drop of the puck throwing a lot of shots toward the net, while not hitting their mark very often.  However, when they did find the mark, the pucks made their way into the net.  AKS scored twice in the first period, and this game looked as if it was going to be a rout.  AKS would score quickly in the 2nd period to extend their lead.  The Anarchy, not to be outdone, would score two goals less than 20 seconds apart to put a little pressure on AKS.  The pressure didn’t seem to faze AKS, as they scored 4 goals in 3 minutes to put the game out of reach.  AKS would then cruise to the victory, and a nice piece of hardware.  Final Score: AKS 8, Anarchy 3.

The Mite Gold final gave us a glimpse of the future for two of the programs I mentioned earlier.  The Delta River Rats played against the SJ Inline Sharks.  As I said earlier, the Delta River Rats are great at developing young talent, as they have a pretty limited pool to choose from in their home area.  It showed in this game, as the River Rats came out and dominated from the word go.  The River Rats scored at will, as their young team moved the puck like kids twice their age, and ran up the score with some pretty sweet snipes.  The Sharks are a relatively new squad, and they put a good fight together to make this game go the distance.  Unfortunately for them, they ran into a buzz saw of a team, and they will have to wait to get their revenge at a later tournament.  The River Rats kids earned their medals, and brought their fans to their feet with a well earned victory.  Final Score: River Rats 7, SJ Inline Sharks 1.

MEN’S GOLD - The Men’s Gold division is always an entertaining division.  Since the Men’s teams don’t have to qualify for a certain division, it is always interesting to see where teams place themselves.  For instance, silver or bronze level teams may over estimate their ability and play in gold because they want the challenge.  Platinum level teams may play down because they are unable to get over the hump in the platinum division.  What we end up with is an eclectic group of teams that often give us a lot of surprises.

In the Men’s Gold final, we got to see two teams with two different mind sets make the final.  We had the 831 Scrubs playing against another very strong KIHA Warriors team.  The 831 scrubs had gotten to the final with puck control, streaky goal scoring, and some decent goaltending, while the MO of the KIHA team was the same as it was for their teams in every division:  Play fast, and cause havoc with teams who can’t handle your speed.  The game started off fast for 831, as they got on the board less than a minute into the game with a power play goal off of an undisciplined high stick.  They would hold the 1-0 lead for about 5 minutes until midway through the period they would add another goal to cushion their lead.  KIHA would come back strong late in the period, as they would score with a minute left in the period.  Not wanting to go into the half down by a goal, KIHA would put another goal away with 13 seconds remaining in the first half.  The score would be tied going into the second.  831 seemed to have run out of gas at this point, as KIHA’s speed took over in the second half.  KIHA was relentless shooting a ton of shots and controlling the play at both ends.  Finally KIHA would break through with the go ahead goal at 7:15 left in the second.  With the grip they had on the game at this point, it would be all they would need.  KIHA would score 2 more goals to cement their cup winning play.  Final Score: KIHA Warriors 5, 831 Scrubs 2.

35+ DIVISION - The 35+ division has become quite competitive in the last couple of years, as the pioneers, pros and ex pros of our game have started coming of age.  It is fantastic to see that while the legs may have slowed down a bit, the hands and the shots seem to be in full form for these guys and gals.  I do not envy the goal keepers that have to try and keep these guys’ shots under wraps.  This was another division that had 3 really strong teams, with the rest fighting for that final spot in the Silver Final. 

As the division played out, the Mission SJIS team found themselves playing against the EE Humpbacks for the 35+ Silver Cup.  The Humpbacks could have easily been in the gold final, but they had a tough draw in the round robin and found themselves relegated to Silver.  The Humpbacks came out strong, quickly potting two goals, and establishing a heavy fore check.  The SJIS squad tried to stay in the game, as they scored a goal midway through the 1st to make it 2-1.  The Humpbacks wasted no time putting another scoring play together to take a 3-1 lead.  The 2nd period brought on a relentless style of play from the Humpbacks, as they scored 5 goals in 5 minutes.  This put the game will in hand, and eventually they would put in the final goal bringing them the mercy, and thoughts of what might have been had they made the Gold Final.  Final Score: EE humpbacks 9, SJIS 1.

The 35+ Gold Game did not quite live up to the hype either, as both Labeda teams faced off against one another.  For awhile it seemed as if there wouldn’t be any goals scored in this game.  Labeda’s Cassidy Select’s goalie continued to hold off the onslaught that was brought upon him by the Labeda Vets.  He could only hold on so long, as finally the Vets broke through late in the 1st.  After putting forth all of their effort in holding the game at a 0-0 tie, it seemed that the Select’s had nothing left to push forward, as the Vets took care of business from the 1st goal on.  The Vets would add another goal in the 1st, and another 5 in the second to breeze their way to the 35+ Championship, and a great new drinking mug.  Final Score: Labeda Vets 7, Labeda Cassidy Selects 0.

JUNIOR DIVISION - Other than the Pro Division, this division brought us some of the biggest surprises, and best games of the tournament.  While the race for the top two spots seemed to be a forgone conclusion, even the powerhouse teams had to do some work to make the finals. 

The Silver Final saw yet another KIHA team playing against a relatively unknown Madi’s boys.  Both teams had to circumvent a minefield of up and comers to make the final, but in the end it was worth it as they put on a show to remember.  If there is one thing Jamie Yoder has instilled amongst his teams in KIHA, it is hard work.  It has shown throughout this tournament, as all of his teams play extremely hard, and well disciplined.  The KIHA Junior team was no different, as they came out with a vengeance in this game, scoring the first goal midway through the first.  The action was end to end, and as the 1st period came to a close, the KIHA Warriors clung to a 1 goal lead.  Madi’s boys had been skating hard all tournament, and they were not about to give in now, as they scored early in the 2nd to knot the game at 1 apiece.  The teams would skate tied until late in the 2nd, when Madi’s boys would take advantage of the Warriors in transition and score with less than two minutes left in the game.  KIHA would take their time out, and draw up a play to give them an opportunity to send this to over time.  With the goalie pulled, the Warriors put together a relentless assault throwing multiple pucks on net.  With 30 seconds left in the game, the KIHA team would find the game tying goal and propel this game into over time.  In over time, KIHA dumped the puck deep into the Madi boys’ zone.  A great fore check, and an even better pass led to a Bobby Orr like flying game winner by KIHA’s flyin Hawaiian defensemen.  This sent the pro Hawaiian crowd into a frenzy, as the KIHA Warriors took home the cup.  Final Score:  KIHA Warriors 3, Madi’s Boys 2.

The Junior Gold final featured two teams with scores of pros in their ranks, the Outcasts vs The Vanquish.  While this was set as a gold final, it was really a platinum final in disguise, as both of these teams are NARCh finals platinum contenders from last season.  There is no love lost between these two teams, and it showed as they came out playing extremely hard against one another.  Sticks were up and bodies were flying in the corners as neither team wanted to give an inch.  The Outcasts team found their away around the strong body play and scored a pretty goal through the traffic at 4:26 of the 1st period.  Undisciplined play would cost the Vanquish as an ill advised tripping penalty gave the Outcasts and their deadly powerplay a chance to work.  And work it did, as they moved the puck superbly and capitalized again at 2:08 in the 1st period.  The period would end 2-0 Outcasts.  The Outcasts team would fall asleep on the opening faceoff of the second period which allowed the Vanquish to score a quick goal 9 seconds in.  If the Vanquish thought this was going to build momentum, they were quickly stymied, as the Outcasts came back less than 30 seconds later to provide themselves with some insurance.  That insurance and one more late goal would be all the Outcast would need, as they cruised to the gold.  Final Score Outcasts 4, Vanquish 1.

This wraps things up on our first tournament of the new year.  We look forward to seeing you all at future events both on this coast, the East coast, and everywhere in between.  Until then, shoot the lights out!