The 2011 Regional Season kicked off this weekend with 30 teams battling it out at the Skatezone in Lakeworth, Florida. The energy could be felt at the facility throughout the tournament, as every team competing shared the common goal of qualifying for the 2011 NARCh FINALS. Here’s a quick rundown on how the divisions and weekend played out.
We had two 8 and under teams compete in an atom exhibition to get qualified for the FINALS. The Tour Scorpions 8u team also played up in mites to make their 3-hour journey across the state worth it. As is often the case in the 8u division, the Boneheadz were a one-boy wrecking crew, with a supporting cast of course. William Laychur scored 8 goals in this game to lead the Boneheadz to a 8-5 victory. The Scorpions were lead by Riley Nichols, who scored a hat trick and added a helper for the Scorpions. As is often the case, the little guys and girls were a blast to watch and brought smiles to all the spectators, whether you had a child in participation or not. Everyone left with a medal and a smile and can’t wait to compete at Germain in July.
4 teams competed in the Mite Division, the Mission Boneheadz, Team Skatezone, Tour Scorpions 01, and the Tour Scorpions 02 Team playing up a division. Early on we were very impressed with the way the Boneheadz moved the puck and controlled the play. The stellar puck movement led them to a perfect record in the round robin, going 3-0. The 02 Scorpions were giving up size, strength, and speed due to the age difference, and it was a little too big of a gap to overcome. Team Skatezone was skating with a thin roster but are a talented group. They fell short to the Boneheadz in the round robin however. They also lost to the Scorpions ’01 in a somewhat meaningless game since both teams would be matching up in the 2 seed vs 3 seed game later in the day. This matchup was our first game Sunday Morning and tensions ran high between these two teams, in what was a very physical game for the 10u division.
In the rematch the Scorpions came out on top again, in part to Derian Brown’s hat trick. The 7-3 victory would carry them into the championship against the Boneheadz. It was a fast pace in the first half of the final and the Scorpions would lead going into half, 2-1. However in the 2nd half it was all Boneheadz with Carson Mango, Will Laychur, and Zachary List receiving 2 pts each. Nicholas Sanfilippo also had a great 2nd half, holding the Scorpions off the score sheet in that half, securing the victory 5-2.
The squirt division only had 4 teams competing, but it didn’t lack competition. To kick off the division the Mission Mafia ’98 and South Florida Jr. Lightning had to settle for a tie. Each team defeated both the Mafia 99’s and Skatezone Panthers and appeared to be setting up for a rematch. Somebody forgot to tell the Mafia 98’s that every game is important and they came out super flat against the 99’s, who they already handled somewhat easily in the round robin. The playoff game would be a different story, as the younger, but very talented Mafia 99’s got off to an early 3-goal lead. The route continued and they stunned the 98’s, 8-1.
In the Squirt Championship the Jr Lightning did not take the Mafia 99’s lightly, and it was a very entertaining finale’. Both goalies played incredible as the teams exchanged scoring chances. It was 2-1 Lightning for most of the game until they got 2 late goals when the Mafia really pressed. Josh Rosenzweig had an absolute snipe to put the Lightning on the board to start the game, and he finished it in the same fashion, with a goal alone in the slot with just a few seconds remaining on the clock. Lightning are your Squirt Champions by a final of 4-1.
The Peewee Division was impressive, with a field of 10 competing. 4 of the 10 were from the Mission Mafia Program. It makes things difficult to schedule when many teams from the same program are in the same division. You obviously want to avoid them playing each other in the preliminary round but you also want the best teams to meet in the championships. It did work out in this case, as the 4 teams that medaled were the best 4 teams in the tournament.
In the Peewee Gold Championship the Mission Mafia ’96 Black would square off against the Mission Mafia ’96 Red. Both teams were the only teams to go undefeated in the preliminary games. I believe the general consensus was that black would win this game, but nobody bothered to tell the red team that. They came to play and gave the black squad fits. Mafia Black did outshoot the Red Team 31-16, so the credit for the close game should start with the goaltender Josh Lazaruz. In the end Mafia Black would prevail however, by a final of 3-2.
In the Silver Semi Finals the Boneheadz ’96 would face off against Mafia ’97 Black and the Tour Scorpions Black would square off against Mafia ’97 Red. The Boneheadz and Scorpions would advance to square off in the championship. This would be a rematch from the preliminary round with some unfinished business to settle, as they tied previously 5-5. This game would also be evenly played. The Boneheadz would get on the board first, but the Scorpions would answer. The Boneheadz went up a second time, but once again the Scorpions would answer. Just like the first matchup, we would end regulation in a tie. Since it’s a championship it had to be decided in overtime. Not long into OT Anthony Lerette would find the back of the net and the Boneheadz would walk away with the gold.
Unfortunately for the division and the spectators, we did not get to see the Scorpions or the Boneheadz play the Mafia ’96 Black Team. It would have also been nice for a few of the lower level teams play a few more competitive games with teams their own ability. Hopefully both of those things can be accomplished at our next Florida Regional in June.
BANTAM – This 6 team division was filled with talent. After 2 games it appeared that we could have 3 teams tied at 3-0 and three tied at 0-3, but the BHSN Hammerheads played spoiler and upset the Mafia ’94 in the last prelim game, securing their spot in the top 4, and at the same time dropping the Mafia’94 into the Silver Championship rather than Gold.
The Gold Championship would come down to the two undefeated teams, Mafia ’95 and Lumpy Muffins. This was one of my favorite games of the tourney to watch. Two highly skilled, disciplined, and well coached teams. It was an evenly matched game, but Mafia jumped in front first and always seemed to have an answer just when it looked like the Muffins were going to take over. With a 3-2 lead the Mafia went a man down, but the Muffins had a little lumpy power play and couldn’t get any quality shots on net. For the last 2 minutes of the game the rink was tilted, but the Mafia would bend but not break. Not only did they hold the lead, Thomas Yamashita added an empty netter, one of his 2 goals in the contest, for the 5-3 victory.
The Silver Division Championship was a rematch between the Hammerheads and Mafia ’94. I watched the game last night and really thought it was an even game and could have went either way. The Hammerheads won that one and played better as the tournament went on. What I labeled a minor upset with the Hammerheads defeated the Mafia ’94 turned out to be wrong, as the Hammerheads defeated the Mafia once again, proving they are the better team on this weekend and deserving of the gold medals. It’s worth noting that Chris Ebersole was a beast in the championship, scoring a natural hat trick in the first half of the Championship. The Hammerheads never looked back and defeated the Mafia by a final of 5-3.
The combination division of Midgets and Men’s had 4 teams competing. After the round robin it was clear that the Smurfs were the team to beat, going 3-0. The real question was, who would face them in the Championship? In the 2 seed vs 3 seed game the Mafia and Venom battled it out. It was a great game between these two teams in the prelims where the Mafia prevailed 4-2. This time would have a different outcome however, as it was the Venom coming out on top by the same margin, 5-3. This game must have taken it’s toll on the Venom, as the championship game was never really close and the Smurfs cruised to victory. In the championship Drake Fallen had a hat trick and Phillip Diorio pitched the shutout in net.
That’s a wrap for Regional #1 from Florida. We hope everyone that participated had fun!
Next weekend, we’re off to San Jose for Regional Qualifier #2 at the Silver Creek Sportsplex.