We’re heading out tomorrow morning for NARCh in San Jose — the grand finale, end-of-the-season roller hockey tournament.
The tournament’s actually been going on for a week and a half but Casey’s division — Bantam Platinum — doesn’t start till Tuesday. Bantam is the 16-and-under division, with a DOB cutoff date of December 31, so this season’s Bantam players are kids born in 1993 or 1994.
The Platinum division is the AAA division. Most tournaments call the skill divisions A, AA and AAA, but NARCh calls them Silver, Gold and Platinum. So Bantam Platinum is 16-and-under AAA.
In order to play at the NARCh final, your team has to play in a regional qualifying tournament. Based on your results in the qualifier, the tournament committee either assigns you to the Silver, Gold or Platinum division, or — if it’s a close call — they assign you to two divisions and let you pick which one you want to play in.
That’s what happened with Casey’s team, Revision Devil Dogs. They seeded Platinum/Gold in the qualifier and elected to play Platinum. Three other Bantam teams at the Irvine regional also seeded Platinum/Gold and they all elected to play Gold.
Since the Bantam Gold division played last week, we already know how those three teams fared:
- AKS 93 – Eliminated in the round-robin competition.
- Reebok Jr. Ducks Eschelon – Seeded third after round-robin games. Lost in the quarterfinals.
- Tour Raw Steel 94 OG – Seeded seventh. Won the tournament in a 1-0 final vs. Tour Outcasts 94, an Arizona team.
Should the Devil Dogs have elected to play Gold instead of Platinum?
I have to say I’ve never heard of a team seeding Platinum/Gold and deciding to play Platinum. The obvious line of thinking is “Let’s play Gold because we’ll have a better chance of winning.”
But that logic is being employed at regional qualifiers all over the U.S. and Canada. Most teams don’t want to play Platinum if they can play Gold instead.
So the Gold division is easier to win than Platinum but you’re still going to have to beat out a lot of good teams that could have played Platinum but didn’t. If you think you’re just going to show up and collect your medal, you’re wrong.
I think the Devil Dog kids are making the right decision.
They’ve come to a fork in the road. They can stay where they’re at and be AA players forever or they can challenge themselves to compete at the highest level of their sport, even if they don’t light the Platinum division on fire the first time they show up to play it.
It’s an honor to play Platinum.
“It’s not an honor if we get killed every game,” Casey says.
He already knows that Raw Steel won the Bantam Gold division and that Raw Steel and Devil Dogs are pretty equal teams. (The Devil Dogs lost the finals of the Irvine qualifier to Raw Steel in overtime, 2-1.)
“We could have won Bantam Gold,” he says.
“You could have won it,” I reply, “but that doesn’t mean you would have won it. Raw Steel seeded seventh so there were at least six other teams in there that had just as good a chance to win it.”
“We would have won it,” he says. Now he’s trying to be funny.
I’ve got my fingers crossed for these kids. I think (hope) they’re capable of being competitive and maybe stealing a game or two . . .