EppsNet Archive: NARCh

Photos from NARCh 2011 – Ft Myers, FL

22 Aug 2011 /


NARCh 2011 – Day 4

23 Jul 2011 /

Semifinal: Devil Dogs vs. Tour Stealth

Both teams played a strong game. The Devil Dogs gave up the first goal, evened it up at 1-1, then allowed the go-ahead goal with about four minutes left.

They had some chances to tie it back up but couldn’t make it happen.

Stealth added an empty-net goal with two seconds left.

Final Score: Stealth 3, Devil Dogs 1

Semifinal: Choice Inline Selects vs. Top Gun

I didn’t see this game because I was watching the Devil Dog semi so I can’t tell you anything about it other than the final score.

Final Score: Selects 4, Top Gun 2

 

Bronze Medal Game: Devil Dogs vs. Top Gun

Three of the four teams in the semifinals win a medal — gold, silver or bronze. One team — the loser of the bronze medal game — doesn’t.

Coming into this game, I was trying to figure out how to convince my kid, if his team lost, that even though they ended the tournament with two losses and came away with nothing, they still played a great tournament — better than all but three of the teams in the country.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to do that.

The Devil Dogs were quite a bit better than Top Gun and dominated the game. They were faster and stronger and got to every puck first.

My boy scored the last goal of the game. I’ve watched him play a lot of games and score a lot of goals over the last 12 years or so but he’s starting college in a few weeks and his future hockey plans are uncertain at this time. It may be the last goal he ever scores.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 6, Top Gun 0

 

Final: Choice Inline Selects vs. Tour Stealth

Both teams are strong defensively. The game was scoreless until midway through the second period. Stealth took a 1-0 lead and the Selects tied it 1-1 with 1:13 left in the game.

It looked like the game was headed for overtime when the top shooter from Stealth fired a perfect wrist shot into the top left corner of the net, past the best goalie in the division, to win the tournament with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Final Score: Stealth 2, Selects 1

 

My expectations for this Devil Dog team started out pretty low. They haven’t been a powerhouse team this season. The goaltending and discipline have been subpar at times.

They hadn’t won a tournament in a while even in local and regional events, so my hopes were not high for their ability to compete at the national level.

At the beginning of the tournament, my hope was that they would at least win a game.

When they won a game, I hoped that they would win another game. Then I hoped they would make the playoffs. Then I hoped they would make the semifinals and then I hoped that they would win a medal.

I just saw all the kids eating pizza in the lobby of the hotel here so I took the opportunity to tell them that they’re great players, they’ve got a lot of heart, and I’ve really enjoyed watching them play.

That’s it from Florida, where the weather’s been great except for the heat, humidity and thunderstorms.

Heading back home in the morning . . .


NARCh 2011 – Day 3

22 Jul 2011 /

Devil Dogs vs. Tour Roadrunners 93 (NY)

The Devil Dogs came into the fourth and final round-robin game with two wins and a loss, needing at least a tie to clinch a playoff spot.

The game didn’t start off well for the Dogs. They trailed 3-1 after the first period, their goalie had let in a bad goal on a long slapshot, and they’d missed on some good scoring opportunities.

They were also coming off a disappointing loss the night before, so I was proud of their mental toughness in coming back to tie the game 3-3 with about three minutes left.

A Roadrunner player took an untimely penalty with 1:37 left in the game. The Dogs were able to control the puck on the power play until, with 11 seconds remaining, they scored on a one-timer off a cross-rink pass for the game-winning goal.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 4, Roadrunners 3

 

Playoffs

That wraps up the round-robin portion of the competition. The top 10 teams get to stick around for playoffs.

  1. Choice Inline Selects (NJ)
  2. Alkali NC (NC)
  3. ISCA Grizzlies (NJ)
  4. Gladiators (PA)
  5. Revision Devil Dogs (CA)
  6. Tour Stealth (CO)
  7. Tour Roadrunners 93 (NY)
  8. Bandits Hockey Club (CA)
  9. Top Gun (NY)
  10. Mile High Mustangs (CO)

The top six seeds go straight to the quarterfinals. The other quarterfinalists are determined by 7-vs-10 and 8-vs-9 playoff games, which both went to the lower seed:

Mile High Mustangs 6, Roadrunners 2
Top Gun 6, Bandits 3

 

Quarterfinal: Choice Inline Selects (1) vs. Mile High Mustangs (10)

The Mustangs were the only team to score against the Selects in round-robin play, although they still lost the game. Chalk up another shutout for the Selects in this one.

Final Score: Selects 1, Mustangs 0

Quarterfinal: Alkali NC (2) vs. Top Gun (9)

Alkali was undefeated in round-robin, including a win against Top Gun, but they are outta here.

Final Score: Top Gun 2, Alkali 1

Quarterfinal: ISCA Grizzlies (3) vs. Tour Stealth (6)

Another upset. The Grizzlies were also undefeated (with one tie) in round-robin. I didn’t like them because the families were a bunch of Jersey Shore loudmouths.

Final Score: Stealth 3, Grizzlies 0

Quarterfinal: Gladiators (4) vs. Revision Devil Dogs (5)

Another poor start for the Devil Dogs. They went down 2-0 in the first three minutes, then rallied to win.

They’re in the semifinals tomorrow morning against Tour Stealth.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 6, Gladiators 4


NARCh 2011 – Day 2

21 Jul 2011 /

Two more round-robin games today, morning and evening . . .

Devil Dogs 6, Detroit Mission Stars 2

Devil Dogs played a great game, best I’ve seen them play this season.

ISCA Grizzlies (NJ) 5, Devil Dogs 3

The Grizzlies are a good, fast team. That said, the Devil Dogs played a subpar game.

Tomorrow is a critical day. Final round-robin games in the morning, after which the top teams start the single-elimination playoff rounds.

By the end of the day, only four teams will be left standing.

If the Devil Dogs win their last round-robin game, they’ll be in the playoffs at 3-1. If they lose, they’ll be 2-2 and could still get a low playoff seed, but it will be a close call . . .


NARCh 2011 – Day 1

20 Jul 2011 /

Devil Dogs 5, MKS (Colombia) 1

The Devil Dogs played their first round-robin game today.

Latin American roller hockey teams typically have a) raucous supporters, b) kids who look suspiciously old for their age, and c) an up-tempo style of play like they’re jacked up on coke, which they probably are.

The first time you see this, you say to yourself, or to someone sitting next to you, “There’s no way they can play at that speed the whole game. They’ll wear themselves out.”

But sure enough, they do play that speed the whole game.

Having said that, the MKS kids all looked age-appropriate, and while they had some fast players, they didn’t maintain the non-stop, end-to-end pace that I expected.


NARCh 2011 – Travel Day

20 Jul 2011 /
Mario Williams

LA to Houston

We’re waiting at LAX for a flight to Houston when a large black man in his 20s sits down near us in the waiting area.

“I could take that guy one-on-one,” my kid announces.

I’m about to mention to him that not every big black dude is necessarily a basketball player when he says, “Wait a minute, isn’t that Mario Williams?”

I have to admit to him that I wouldn’t recognize Mario Williams if I saw him.

He pulls up a photo of Mario Williams on his iPhone. “Yeah,” I say, “that does look like him.”

“And he’s waiting for a flight to Houston? That’s got to be Mario Williams.”

The final clue is that the guy is decked out in Adidas gear from head to toe. A Google search for “mario williams adidas” on the iPhone reveals that Mario Williams has a sponsorship deal with Adidas.

So we’re pretty sure we saw Mario Williams at the airport.

 

Houston to Florida

Continental changed up the seat assignments . . . the boy ends up in Row 8 while I’m back in Row 26.

“I’m way ahead of you,” he says. “I can pick up the rental car and drive to the hotel before you even get off the plane.”


NARCh Wrapup

1 Aug 2010 /
Drop the Puck

As expected, Mission Black Ice 93 and the Mississauga Mission Rattlers reached the Bantam Platinum finals, with Black Ice winning 4-3.

The Colorado Kodiaks won the bronze medal, which you could think of as the gold medal for the rest of the field, because no one was in the same class as the Rattlers or Black Ice.

My son’s team, Revision Devil Dogs, had a killer draw: three of their four round-robin games were against the three medal-winning teams. They tied the Kodiaks and lost the other two.

Had they been able to beat the Kodiaks — and the Kodiaks’ goalie made a tough save at the final horn — the Devil Dogs would have advanced to the playoff round and the Kodiaks would have been ousted.

Final thoughts

In a way, I’d like my son to win every tournament he plays because I want him to be happy, but in another way, I don’t really care about winning at all. It’s not the important thing.

If it was, the right thing to do would have been to play Gold instead of Platinum, but by doing that, the team would never really know how good they are.

I’m proud of the boys for having the heart to play against the best teams, even if it meant going home without the medal they might have won playing Gold.

All of the kids have been playing hockey long enough. They have lots of medals.

To me, it doesn’t make sense to stop trying to get better just to pick up one more medal.


Happy 17th Birthday

28 Jul 2010 /

My son turned 17 today at the NARCh tournament in San Jose and he went with his teammates to Applebee’s for dinner.

The boys know that he doesn’t like to be the center of attention for things like having “Happy Birthday” sung for him in a restaurant so I’m sure they made every effort to prevent that from happening . . .


NARCh – Day 2

28 Jul 2010 /

Two more round-robin games on Day 2 . . .

Game 3 – Mississauga Mission Rattlers

Remember when I said Mission Black Ice is the best 16-and-under team I’ve ever seen? I may have spoken too soon on that.

I’ll be shocked if the Rattlers and Black Ice don’t face each other in the final to find out which team is really the best in the universe.

The Devil Dog goalie was great yesterday but not today. He gave up eight goals, should have stopped about five of them, but didn’t get much help from his teammates either.

Final Score: Rattlers 8, Devil Dogs 0. Ouch.

 

Game 4 – Colorado Dynamite

Both teams came into the game with a good chance of slipping in to the playoff round as the fifth and final seed with a victory.

It was a very even game — too even. The game ended in a tie, which eliminated both teams from the tournament.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 3, Dynamite 3

 

Day 2 Wrapup

I thought the boys did great for their first time playing Platinum at the NARCh level.

They’re not ready to win it yet but they I think they showed that they belong, and they got a chance to see what it takes to be the best in the land at their sport.

As a team, there are things that they need to improve on and individually, they need to get stronger and faster.

There are two teams — Black Ice and Mississauga Rattlers — that look clearly better than any other team in the 16-and-under age group. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw had the Devil Dogs playing both of them in round-robin games.

Except for those two teams, it looked like the Dogs could compete with anyone. They were one goal away from making the playoff round, had they been able to win one of the two games they tied.

 

I really enjoyed watching the kids play this season.

Casey’s been teammates with most of these kids for three years now. They’ve improved as players from A to AA and now AAA.

A couple of kids who as recently as last year were the poster boys for not having your head in the game — on or off the rink — have actually developed some leadership qualities, so they’ve improved at things other than hockey as well.

That’s it. See you next season . . .


NARCh – Day 1

28 Jul 2010 /

The Devil Dogs played two round-robin games on Day 1 . . .

Game 1 – Mission Black Ice 93

Black Ice is from New York. They’re a great team. Best 16-and-under team I’ve ever seen. In fact, they’re better than any 18-and-under team I’ve ever seen. What a juggernaut!

The Devil Dog kids looked nervous. They looked tight. They didn’t handle the puck cleanly.

Black Ice was ahead 3-0 after the first period. The Dogs tightened things up and played a scoreless second period.

I wanted to say something encouraging to my boy after the game. “You played them even the second period,” I said.

“No we didn’t,” he replied.

“Well . . . on the scoreboard you did.”

Final Score: Black Ice 3, Devil Dogs 0

 

Game 2 – Colorado Kodiaks

The Dogs matched up better physically with the Kodiaks than with Black Ice although the Kodiaks also had some incredibly fast players.

The Kodiaks went ahead 2-1 with about three minutes left in the game when a player tipped in a shot in front of the net.

The shot was high. Sean, the Devil Dog goalie, thought it was too high — you’re not allowed to tip a shot that’s above the crossbar — but the referee disagreed.

Sean was mad. He took a swing at the puck like he wanted to fling it into outer space, whiffed it, and smacked the referee in the foot.

Normally when you smack a referee with your stick, you’re going to get a penalty. The ref stared at him for a long time, told him to calm down, but didn’t call the penalty.

Thanks, ref!

A couple of minutes later, with less than a minute left in the game, the Dogs scored a late goal to tie the game.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 2, Kodiaks 2

 

Day 1 Wrapup

Black Ice played their second game against The Gong Show, the best team in Northern California. Black Ice won 10-2.

The Kodiaks played their second game against another California team, Mission Axiom, winning 6-1.

The Devil Dogs are playing Platinum for the first time and didn’t get a lot of respect in the draw.

Based on Day 1 results, it looks like the best teams in the division are Black Ice, Kodiaks and Mississauga Mission Rattlers. The Dogs played two of those teams already and their next game is against the Rattlers.

I think the Dogs are pretty obviously better than The Gong Show and Mission Axiom, but they’re not going to play either of those teams.

They should make the playoff round if they win their final two round robin games but that is not going to be easy . . .


A Bad Start

27 Jul 2010 /

The tournament is off to a bad start and the boys haven’t even taken the rink yet.

One boy showed up yesterday with a 103 fever. I’m hearing this morning that his parents took him to urgent care. Nobody knows right now if he’s going to be able to play.

Hang on, it gets worse.

I don’t know who knows it yet but another boy went home late last night. His mom, who wasn’t at the tournament, died in her sleep. She wasn’t the healthiest person but she was about the same age as I am and wasn’t expected to die.

I heard about it this morning from one of the other dads, who’s a friend of their family. He heard about it last night when the boy’s dad woke him up with a phone call.

My son doesn’t know about it yet. He’s still asleep.

I’m trying to think if any of his friends have lost a parent before. I can’t think of anyone.

I wish my wife was here. She’s 10 times better than me at dealing with people and situations. She’d do and say the right things without even having to think about it.

What a shock. Rest in peace.


Leaving Tomorrow for NARCh

25 Jul 2010 /
Drop the Puck

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 . . .


Playing Up

6 Apr 2010 /

Last weekend’s WIHA roller hockey tournament in Irvine brings us a lesson in hubris . . .

Give Blood Play Hockey tournament

My kid plays for Revision Devil Dogs, a 16U AA team. Unfortunately, the 16U teams showing up for WIHA tournaments this season haven’t been providing a lot of competition for the boys so they’ve played up the last couple of tournaments in the 18U AA division.

In this one, they found themselves in a situation where if they won their fourth and final round-robin game against AKS by at least two goals, they’d finish in a three-way tie for second and would, based on a complex tie-break formula including goals against, get to play in the final.

A Devil Dog loss, tie or even a one-goal victory would put AKS in the final.

AKS is a good team. They beat the Devil Dogs easily in a tournament in February and seemed to be clowning around the whole time. I’m sure they gave zero thought to the possibility of losing this game.

The AKS coach obviously hadn’t bothered to work through the tie-break scenario because after coming back from 5-2 down to 5-4, he pulled his goalie with about a minute left in the game, allowing a Devil Dog player to score an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left and knock AKS out of the final with a 6-4 win.

The Dogs lost the final 2-1 to top-seeded Reebok HB — still a good result for playing up in a higher age bracket.

Next up: NARCh regional qualifier in two weeks.


NARCh Winternationals – Day 4

18 Jan 2010 /

Semifinal

Devil Dogs

This one was like a replay of the third round-robin game.

Final Score: West Coast Warriors 2, Devil Dogs 0

 

“They couldn’t buy a goal,” one of the moms said.

“Are you allowed to buy goals?” I asked.

“We need to make a new rule for that,” she said.

The Warriors went on to lose 5-1 to NorCal Riot Black in the 16U final. That score surprised me, since NorCal couldn’t score on the Devil Dogs and the Devil Dogs couldn’t score on West Coast.

I’ve got to find out if any parents stayed to watch the final. How did NorCal get 5 goals on the West Coast boys? Whatever they did, the Devil Dogs should start doing it . . .


NARCh Winternationals – Day 3

17 Jan 2010 /

Game 4

Devil Dogs

The Devil Dogs are running into hot goalies. They’ve been shut out two games in a row, this one a scoreless tie against undefeated NorCal Riot Black.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 0, NorCal Riot Black 0

 

The tie is good enough to put the Dogs in tomorrow’s single-elimination round against the West Coast Warriors — who beat them yesterday — with the winner playing NorCal Riot Black in the final.


NARCh Winternationals – Day 2

16 Jan 2010 /

Game 3

Devil Dogs

The West Coast Warriors are a team of big kids from British Columbia. The Devil Dogs had some trouble dealing with their size and speed. And the Warriors’ goalie played a great game.

Final Score: West Coast Warriors 2, Devil Dogs 0

 

The final round-robin games are scheduled for tomorrow. Depending on how things go, the Devil Dogs could be the top-seed for the single-elimination round or they could get knocked out of the tournament. Their game is against NorCal Riot Black, who are undefeated at 3-0.


NARCh Winternationals – Day 1

16 Jan 2010 /

Game 1

Narch Cap

Everybody wants to score goals; nobody wants to play defense. Everybody wants to make a big play; nobody wants to make the little plays.

The kids came out too revved up, made a lot of mistakes and were fortunate to win the game.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 5, Silicon Valley Quakes 3

 

Game 2

The boys calmed down and played the best game I’ve ever seen them play — and I see every game.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 4, NorCal Riot Red 0

 

Two round-robin games left, against what look like stronger teams.


Why I Don’t Go to Sandra Bullock Movies

13 Jul 2009 /

Some of the hockey moms here at the tournament went to see The Proposal and are giving it rave reviews — “Classic Sandra Bullock!” Blah blah blah . . .

“Sandra Bullock used to be pretty cute,” I say, “but now she looks like a guy, don’t you think?”

“Are you kidding?! For 45, she looks amazing!

When I unscrunch my hard-earned dollar bills to see a movie, I want more than “looks good for 45.” I can get “looks good for 45” at home . . .


NARCh – Day 4

13 Jul 2009 /

The Devil Dogs would have liked to be playing today but weren’t after last night’s 2-1 quarterfinal defeat to the Cougars.

In the semifinals, the #5 seed Cougars got smoked 6-1 by the #2 seed Detroit Mission Stars 92, while the #1 seed Adrenaline, another Michigan team, beat the #6 seed ISCA Grizzlies from New Jersey 10-4.

In the final, the Stars beat Adrenaline 5-2 to win the gold medal. As the highest-seeded semifinal loser, the Cougars earned the bronze medal.

 

Everyone who’s played a sport for a while has been on the wrong end of last-minute losses. If you can’t take the occasional tough loss, you always have the option of not playing the sport.

But I have to admit that the coaching decisions at the end of last night’s game are going to haunt me for a while. Putting the wrong team on the rink in the last minute cost the team a medal. In my opinion.

Notice that I’m saying the right players weren’t in the game — not the “best” players — because different players are best in different situations. Are you ahead? Are you behind? Are you tied? That determines who should be on the rink.

For example, if you’re protecting a one-goal lead, having your big, fast guys on the bench in favor of smaller guys and scorers does not give you the best chance to win the game. In fact, it gives you the best chance to lose the game. If you’d been next to me with a minute left in that game, you would have heard me say that exact thing: “They’ve got the wrong lineup out there.”

Casey was crushed by losing the game in the last minute and doubly crushed by having to watch it from the bench. You can’t know what would have happened had he been in the game, but in his heart, he knows what would have happened.

 

Team chemistry on the Devil Dogs was really good this season. Some of the boys are model young men and some aren’t, but as a group, they were a team in the best sense of the word. Most of the boys were in the hotel lobby last night till 2 a.m. talking amongst themselves and with a few kids from another team. They’ll bounce back. They’ve bounced back most of the way already . . .


NARCh – Day 3

12 Jul 2009 /

Quarterfinals: The Devil Dogs led 1-0 most of the game, but gave up two goals in the last minute to lose 2-1. They’re out of the tournament.

My son was crying after the game when he came out of the locker room — not weeping, but he had tears in his eyes. Don’t tell him I told you. He never cries after games. I was this close to crying myself when I saw him.

I’m now going to violate my policy of never questioning coaches’ decisions. Hockey’s a team game, but if I’m going to lose a game in the last minute, I’m going to lose it with my strongest players on the rink.

I was looking out there with a minute left and a 1-0 lead and I couldn’t see how having the two biggest, fastest kids on the bench gave the team the best chance to win that game. The fact that one of those kids is my kid may be clouding my judgment but I don’t think so.

The last-minute goals came on defensive mistakes. The Dogs have a good goalie who can stop the kind of shots he faced in the last minute, as long as you don’t let kids on the other team stand in front of the net and tip them. It’s not that complicated. Would having different players on the rink prevented those goals from being scored? I say yes, but again, I admit that I’m not totally objective.

It’s pretty sad around here right now . . .


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