What a great weekend at the Escondido Sports Center. Thanks for being part of it!
We would visit North San Diego for our last west coast regional qualifier. 36 teams would call the Escondido Sports Center home for the weekend and we would witness some nice weather, good times, and of course, great hockey. Here’s how the divisions played out.
We would field a platinum/pro division for all the Pro Players to sharpen up before the big show in Florida. The division would end in very thrilling fashion. Appropriately, the first game between Mission AKS and the Las Vegas Tour Rebels would end in a tie, leaving some unfinished business for these two teams that would meet in the championship. Vegas would jump out to the early 2-1 lead in the championship, but early in the second half AKS would tie it. AKS would then take the lead on #19 Philip Neilsons’ 2nd of the game, but #41 Micah Sanford would score on the power play for the Rebels to tie it up again at 3 apiece. #44 Spencer Heichman would put AKS on top again, only to have Sanford tie up again on the power play. The Rebels would then take the lead back at 5-4, but with just 21 seconds left in the game, Heichman would score on the powerplay with a pulled goalie and two extra skaters to send this game into overtime tied at 5’s. Unlike the second half, overtime was a chess match, and neither team would give an inch. We headed into a shootout where we saw some absolute snipes by both teams. Every AKS shooter that would participate in the shootout would take care of business, and AKS would take home the gold.
In the NARCh California Tournaments the cub division has become the norm, not the exception. Two teams from San Diego and two from Orange County would battle it out in this one. While the first time parents are more nervous than ever, it’s hard to take the hockey too seriously when over half the division still sleeps in pull-ups. The Anarchy were the champions in Irvine and would once again take home the gold title in a close game against the much improved Stormtroopers, 5-4. In the silver championship the San Diego Rockets would defeat a young AKS team for the silver title. All teams left with medals and smiles, and are sure to sleep well tonight.
Only three teams competed in the atom division. The Stingrays played the Las Vegas Tour Rebels tough, only losing 3-1 in the playoff, but the Rebels would advance to play the San Diego Rockets for the championship. The Rebels beat the Rockets twice in the Irvine Regional Qualifier, but the Rockets would get revenge on their home turf, defeating them in the preliminary round and in a nail biter for the championship. Leads would change frequently in the final, but the Rockets would pull it out 7-5, including the empty netter. #96 Ethan Kurht would be the only multiple goal scorer for the Rockets and #17 Dominic Suhr would be the Rebels go-to guy, scoring 4 of the 5 Rebel goals.
The mite division was comprised of 5 teams, the Rockets and Stingrays from San Diego and three teams traveling in. The Puck Hogs would grab the #1 seed and play the Rockets for the gold championship. The Rockets seem to get better every game and revenged their earlier loss to the Puck Hogs with a 6-3 win to take home gold. #14 Conner Tabone would have 4 goals in the championship for the Rockets.
In the mite silver championship the Las Vegas Tour Rebels and San Diego Stingrays would face off. It would be a closer game then when they met in the prelims, but the Stingrays would take this one 6-3. #15 Dalton Strauss would have a hat trick and it was a gold sweep weekend for the two San Diego squads in mite.
The squirt division only had four teams, and there was a distinctive line between the top two and bottom two, but everyone got what they came for, which is great hockey. For the gold championship it would be two powerhouse squirt squads facing off, Bauer 98 and Revision Vanquish 99. The Vanquish would defeat Bauer in the first meeting 2-1, and the championship would also come down to just a goal. Bauer would jump out to a 3-0 lead and that’s how we would go into the half. Vanquish would come out with a more urgency in the second half and make this one exciting, but it would end with Bauer taking home gold by a final of 3-2.
The squirt silver championship was a barnburner. 6 different goal scorers would find the back of the net, 3 for each team. That’s how not only the regulation would end, but also overtime, and this would have to be settled in a shootout. Stingrays’ goalie Jovan Cramer did not let in a goal in the shootout and #10 Ryan Wilson and #62 Justin Vickers would both score, and the Stingrays would win the crown in this thriller.
Six teams competed in the peewee division. The Las Vegas Tour Rebels would go undefeated to grab the top seed and the Revision Vanquish ’97 would meet them for the championship. The Rebels are a big strong team and jumped out to an early 5-0 on the short rostered Vanquish. The 5-player Vanquish would not fold, and big #19 Jackson Faught would pop a couple of quick goals to close the gap to 5-2. That’s as close as it would get though, and the Rebels will take gold back to the desert. Final score 7-3.
In the silver championship the Nor Cal Elite would take on the West Covina High Rollers. The Elite were just a little more skilled but the High Rollers gave them a good fight. The Elite would shut out the High Roller in this low scoring affair, 3-0.
Bantam had 6 teams compete and was a fairly wide range of talent. At the top after the first three games sat the undefeated team from Las Vegas, the Rebels. Team Armada would defeat Nor Cal Elite in the playoffs to match up against the Rebels for the title. In the championship Armada would take a 2-0 lead into half, but this game would be a tale of two halves, and the second belonged to the Rebels. #6 Beau Rickets would score twice in the second half and the Rebels would shut down Armada to take the title by a final of 4-2.
The Jr/Mens Gold combo division was a great mix of teams that have never really faced each other. Team X would get by the Blazers 4-1 in one semi, and NCR and the VC Stars would play a tight game in the other semifinal that NCR would pull out 3-2. The championship was a well played, puck possession game. Team X would jump out to the early 2-1 lead but NCR would answer and then take the lead themselves on a rebound goal by #73 Travis Suyeshi to put them up 3-2. Linder would answer with his second of the game, and provide a very fitting finish to this great weekend of hockey, as we would head to yet another overtime. Both goalies came up big in OT, so we would witness our 3rd championship shootout of the day. This shootout would also be our most thrilling, and would take 7 players to settle. A goal by NCR’s Matt Wallace and a save by Tony Hartman would send NCR back to Nor Cal with grins on their faces and gold around their necks.
We hope you had as much fun as we did and we’ll see you in Florida!