Mid-season Recap, Nationals on Horizon

As I am sitting on the plane 36,000 feet up in the air heading out to Vancouver for our first ever event in the Pacific Northwest, I thought it would be a good time to write a blog recapping our season thus far and teeing things up for Nationals, which is crazy to think, but just around the corner!  I am even going to announce an amazing promotion we will be offering our teams who are interested in competing in both National events!  Read on…

When Ron, Greg, and I sat down in August and mapped out a plan for our two companies to merge, we had high expectations.  What we saw was a great opportunity to bring two companies together with very different geographical strengths.  At the center of the merge, ours goals as an organization were aligned and it was just a matter of how can we pull this off.  There were a lot of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed, but we were ready for the challenge.  We figured that if we could do it, the sport as a whole, and the teams and players alike would see a lot of value in what we could provide as a combined organization.  Well, if our events midway through the season are any indication, we certainly made the right move!

We kicked things off this season with 2 Winter Cup events, the first playing host in Detroit, MI at Joe Dumars Fieldhouse, and the second at Dreamsports Center in Apex, NC.   Without a doubt, the highlight of the Winter Cup North event was the 10 team pro division.  Many of the games biggest stars were in Detroit, and in the end, it was Alkali RPD who captured their first ever Pro Championship.  They will certainly be one of the favorites heading into the summer!  Down in North Carolina, the Winter Cup South event had full divisions in every age group, which for late January, can be very difficult to pull off, due to the large amount of inline players who also play ice hockey!

After a few weeks off, our Regional season got underway in Detroit at the JCC.  This is always a favorite event of mine, mostly because I love spending time with the folks from the RBK organization, namely Vinny Jalaba, Tracy Pappas, and the one and only Theresa Fulgenzi.  Unfortunately for me, I was unable to attend this event this time around, but have promised T I will be back for next year’s event!  That being said, we had a full staff in the D to play host to an incredible 32 teams!  Because of the fact we needed additional rink time to accommodate all the games, we picked up a block of time over at Total Hockey in Novi.

Next on the radar was our qualifier in NJ.  Let me remind you that in 2012, both TORHS and 2Hot4Ice struggled in this market, each only able to field 12 team tournaments!  Call it what you want, I am going to credit the merge, but the result was 30 teams packed in at Choice Inline in Sewell.  I was in attendance for this one, and had a blast not only watching some great hockey, but also chatting it up with the likes of Mike Stoever, Mike ‘Bulldog’ Rosmini, Jason Muro, Anthony ‘Vio’ Violante, Charlie Yoder, and Ben Ellison.  These guys have all been around the game a very long time, and you definitely can learn a thing or two if you talk to them long enough!

After we packed up from NJ, we headed down to ATL, one of our top markets, and a place in SGAA that we love to host a qualifier.  Our event in Snellville did not disappoint, as we played host to 38 teams .  The highlight of this event was the almost National-esque feel the event had since there were teams competing from North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and of course Georgia.  This event in Snellville has gotten the reputation of being the largest qualifier in the SE region, and many teams that were unable to attend this year’s event are already talking about it for next year!

The following weekend, we featured our first double-header weekend of the year, and it just so happened that both events were in the National host cities.  We had an amazing 61 teams at Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Detroit, and another 34 teams competing at Dreamsports Center in Apex, NC.  Two of the many highlights of the event in Detroit were Peter Dale’s Mission Farm Tough organization who travelled the 350 miles over from Peewaukee, WI and Joe Voloch and the Butler Cobras organization, who travelled over from the Pittsburgh area to qualify their teams.  Both organizations are planning on bringing their teams to Nationals!  In NC, the Tour Richmond Rattlers and Tour Lizard Kings from McDonough, GA were showing off their new sponsorships, while the local teams were geared up and ready to go, as many of them not only played some great hockey, but also pitched a tent outside and enjoyed the great weather we had.  It was a far cry from the snow and icy conditions we dealt with during our Winter Cup South event!

The midway point of our season was this past weekend, which was another double-header weekend, in which we qualified teams in Pittsburgh, PA and Ft. Myers, FL.  The Pittsburgh event was flat out amazing.  We actually had to turn away roughly 10-15 teams, since we could not fit more than the 60 teams we registered, and those 60 teams played almost around the clock over 3 days at Hot Shots Arena in Mt. Pleasant.  Not only would I like to recognize and thank the organizations that travelled in, such as the Mission Black Ice, Tour Roadrunners, Richmond Tour Rattlers, Mission Bauer Bordercats, Mississauga Mission Rattlers, RV RBK Buffalo Wings , and the Hershey Typhoon, but the local Pittsburgh market needs to be recognized.  The likes of the Mission Fusion, Bridgeville Bulldawgz, Pittsburgh Bandits, Scottdale Inferno, and Butler Cobras were all represented in this event, and it is great to see all of these organizations supporting the common good of the sport!  Down in Ft Myers, while we would have liked to have seen some of the other local Florida teams qualify for Nationals, we were able to pull off 5 divisions, thanks in part to the work of Vinny Cafone and Mike Howard from the Alkali Gamblers, Tracy Richardson with the Misfits and Hungry Howie teams, and Gari Sanfilippo from the Wellington Prowlers.  The talk down in the sunshine state was that many of these teams will be heading up to Raleigh for our Nationals South event, and we couldn’t be happier about that!

Speaking of Nationals, this year’s events are shaping up to be 2 of the biggest events in the sport.  As a reminder, Nationals North will be held at Taylor Sportsplex in Taylor, MI June 21-29 and Nationals South will be held at Dreamsports Center in Apex, NC July 5-11.  As you can see, our qualifier season has gotten off to an unbelievable start, and most of the teams who have already qualified have committed to attend at least one of our National events.  I am very excited to announce a promotion that we will be offering to our loyal teams that are interested in participating in both events.  Since we understand that it is a lot to ask for you to participate in both events, and we certainly understand the cost that is required to attend a National event, we will be offering a $500 discount off your team's combined entry fee for those teams that register, and pay in full prior to the North National event.  This gives teams an opportunity to play in both events, but at a fraction of the cost.  You will be hearing a lot more about this special offer, but I wanted to get it out there now since we just finalized it!

Well, I just landed in Las Vegas for a layover before I catch my next flight into Seattle…. maybe I will conveniently miss my flight and stay here for a night…. or not!