Mid April means NARCh time in Pennsylvania, as the regional schedule brought us once again to Marple Sports Arena for another great weekend. 36 teams played in 7 divisions, resulting in 78 games. Here’s how it all played out.
The Atom Division featured one of the top 8 and under teams we have seen in the home Jr Gladiators playing against a team from across the river, New Jersey’s Cougars. In their first meeting the Jr Gladiators had their way with Cougars defeating them 7-1. The second contest was much tighter. The Gladiators scored an empty netter with just seconds to go to take this one by the score of 8-6. When it comes to watching these little guys play the smiles on their faces and the way they hustle until the final horn outweighs wins and losses. This game was packed! It’s a joy to stand in the middle of the floor after the game and place medals around their necks. It truly is the best part of the job for me.
In the Mite Division, the Jr Gladiators looked very solid, scoring 27 goals in the 3 game round robin. They matched up in the final against Dangle Fiesta, a team of kids from the area that should only get better as they play together more. These teams would face off in the final and the experience of playing together on a regular basis helped the Gladiators defeat Dangle Fiesta 9-1.
This weekend’s Squirt Division was a tale of two great teams, the Richmond Rattlers and the Jr Gladiators. On Saturday, these teams battled to a 6-4 Gladiator win. In Sunday’s final, the teams would combine for 4 goals in the first half, each netting two. The Rattlers goal scorers were Nick Reisenweaver and Hunter Jennings. Anthony Gallicchio and Matt Strofe provided the scoring for the Glads. Richmond got on the board first in the second half with Reisenweaver adding his second of the game. The Gladiators would answer back when Gallicchio took a nice pass from Tyler Pohlig made a nifty move and tucked home the equalizer. Austin Master scored back to back goals late to seal the victory for the home town Gladiators.
The Pee Wee Division featured 6 teams, 3 of which were battling for the top 2 seeds, and the automatic berth into the AA final. The Jr Gladiators had a very strong showing in their round robin and earned the #1 seed. One of the last games of Saturday’s round robin turned out to be a playoff-like atmosphere, as the winner of the Tour Roadrunners vs. CT Jr Blaze game would be the #2 seed, guaranteeing a medal for their team. The Roadrunners came to play in that one, besting the Blaze by a 6-3 margin. The AA final was a match up between The Jr Gladiators and The Roadrunners. To say these teams know each other well would be under stated. The Gladiators jumped out to a quick 3 goal lead with Austin Master picking up the first and Joe D’Angelantonio netting the next two. The Roadrunners didn’t hang their heads and just go away. They fought back and tied the game at three by halftime. Jake Steinberg sandwiched two goals around one by Max Halverson. The second half was all Gladiators as they outscored the Roadrunners 5 to 1. The final score was 8-4 Gladiators.
The A final would turn out to be the game of the tournament. The Blaze would jump out to an early one goal lead on a power play tally from Tyler DiFrancesco. Three minutes later they would add a second when Tyler McLean jammed one home on a brilliant feed from Shane Mack. The Cougars would answer before halftime to keep the game close. As the second half opened it was the Blaze that would score first 4 minutes in for a 3-1 lead. The Cougars went on a run scoring 3 straight goals by Ken Weightman, Mike Deissroth, and Rob Whitkowski. The Blaze would score again to tie the game and force overtime. Each team would have great scoring chances in the extra session but the goalies made save after save forcing this one to a shootout. After four shooters apiece we were still knotted up. We then went to sudden death. Taylor Slade was the hero in this one as he beat the Cougars goalie blocker side to give the Blaze the gold medal.
Next up is the Bantam Division, which had all 5 teams play a round robin, with the top 2 seeds advancing to the final. This competitive group saw a very talented Black Ice team advance easily to the Final. Their opponent would be the Tour Roadrunners. Black Ice is a perennial platinum team in this division with the likes of Nicky Master, Tyler Kraft, John Schiavo, and Shawn Maffei. It doesn’t hurt that they have a 6’3” goalie by the name of Steven Mundinger. Black Ice jumped out to a 6 goal lead in the first half and never looked back. Final score 7-1.
The Midget Division was the largest group of the weekend, with 8 teams. After their first 3 games, 2 groups were made, resulting in a 4 team AA semifinal and a 4 team A semifinal. Amazingly enough, all 4 semifinals turned out to be rematches of games in the preliminary round. The AA group would see Black Ice 92 and Liberty prevail in the semifinals. Black Ice with a 6-2 win over the Cougars and Liberty with a 4-2 win over the Grizzlies in a mini upset. This is another Black Ice team that will make some noise in Florida over the summer. They play a very controlled style of game, not forcing anything, but as soon as they see an opportunity they strike…and they strike often. They were too much for the Liberty winning going away by the score of 9-2.
In the A bracket, the 2 rematches played out to be much different than expected, as the 2 teams that lost their respective games the first time around beat their higher seeded opponents in the rematch, both by 1 goal! The Tour Roadrunners and Jr Gladiators each made it to the final, and earned themselves the opportunity for the gold medal. Once that game began it a chess game. Each team feeling the other one out waiting for a breakdown. They traded goals in the first half. Mark Brady scoring for the Roadrunners and Justin Dickel for the Gladiators. John Kaszuba and Brady would score for the Roadrunners early in the second but the Gladiators AJ Ehinger would tally 4 goals of his own with Tom Pflaumer also adding one. Gladiators would pull away with a decisive 6-3 victory.
Our final group of the weekend was the combined Junior/Men’s Division, with 7 teams playing 4 games over the 2 days, and the top 4 teams in two finals. The 2 top seeds ended up in the AA final. Jr Gladiators Red would take the #1 seed and Black Ice 90 #2. These teams skated to a tie during round robin. John Schiavo and Nick Master would score 2 goals apiece and Bill Pascalli would add 1 goal and 2 helpers to assure Black Ice a gold medal in this one.
Seeds 3 and 4 were placed in the A final. This was another rematch of a round robin game that ended in a tie. The Jr Gladiators White would play the Revision Rage in the final game of the tournament. The Gladiators scored first in this one when Justin Dickel ripped home a feed from David Sheppard 4 minutes in. The Rage responded with 2 quick ones from Will Lyons and Ricky Vukovic. The Gladiators took the lead in the second half with 2 more goals from Dickel to complete the hat trick. But, the Rage would score a minute and a half apart to give them the lead and the eventual win. Final score 4-3.
That wraps up another NARCh weekend! We take an Easter holiday next weekend, then start things back up in St. Louis in 2 weeks. Make sure to check narch.com and the narchplayers youtube for all of this season’s highlights.