We are up and running pretty smooth here in Oakville, Ontario. The hockey is great, there's a Tim Hortons on EVERY corner, Boston Pizza stays open 'til 2am and the exchange rate is superb!!!
I got in last night and the first person I saw was Tyler True. He was ready to go and we began our setup and started to watch the teams pile in. The man to greet us was none other than Rob Morgan. Rob organizes the Halton Alkali Coyote program and runs the roller operations here at Oakville Arena. Rob and I talk on a consistent basis and he has truly become a friend in this sport. He's a great guy and will shoot you straight whether you like it or not. We coached together last year, we were on the phone every day for the last week making sure this tournament was the best it could possibly be and talking about Nationals as well. Rob is one of those guys that just GETS IT!!! He has his teams playing, getting qualified and they were all ready to go for the weekend...no questions asked. I could say the same about Phil Nolan of the Mississauga Rattlers; not only does he have one of the most organized coaches in the game (John MacPherson) in his organization but he has worked tirelessly to make sure this event was a successful one as well. Phil and I had some conversations over the past couple of weeks as well and although he won't be as well represented this summer as he has been in the past he's always a great guy to rap with and talk about the sport.
Although, they did not play last night, using Friday as their travel day, the Kamagraf Cobra Selects are in the building. They made the trip from Butler, PA and are fairing very well. Their 10s are playing up just as the Halton 10s are to get some competition as those two teams will end up in the squirt tier 2 championship. Their squirts, peewees and bantams are all here and Joe Voloch makes sure all teams are organized and ready to go.
It's always interesting to see teams play out of their home area. The competition is different and it makes it MUCH easier to seed them for nationals. Joe Voloch and the Cobras as well as MacPherson's Rattler team remind me of how this sport USE to be! Teams would TRAVEL to regionals for different competition in preparation for nationals. There were more regionals because teams wanted to make there way around their REGION before getting to nationals. Nowadays teams classify their region as their backyard and many won't go around the corner. Next year, I am totally committed to making this regional the biggest and best yet. The American dollar is strong, there is a strong commitment from the teams in the area, and there is enough to do around here to keep teams occupied when not on the rink. There is every single level of competition here and the rink is packed for much of the day. The dads are going wild and this tournament just runs like a machine (mostly because I'm a boss at my job but Tyler True has been clutch as well).
When looking at the divisions, in squirt the Rattlers have already locked up the number one seed after getting a scare in game #1 against the Cobras. The Cobras grabbed a 3-0 lead in that game only to see Mississauga tie it up and take the lead. The Cobras would tie it up with under ten seconds remaining and then miss a breakaway opportunity to close out regulation, but the Rattlers would win it in a shootout 6-5. It is currently the only "blemish" on their record. Remember: you only receive two points for a shootout win!
In peewee, the Coyotes Red team is clearly the class of the division. They are a true AAA team that will compete heavily at nationals. They were perfect in the standings thru round robin play just as the Coyotes Black team was. They locked up the top two seeds for peewee tier 1 and the final seed in tier one will either belong to the Mad Dogs, Selects or Rattlers. That Mad Dogs team had a tough draw but they are a fast, physical team who played well this weekend.
Bantams have been the MOST EXCITING division to watch. The teams have played out of their minds and the division is extremely close. Currently, going into their final game, the KW Rage could finish in first, or fourth and be out of the playoff hunt. They lost to the Cobras 3-2 earlier today...it's THAT close. The division is so tight, that with the exception of one mercied game, the other six games have been decided by a total of 11 goals...INSANE...but awesome to watch. The Coyotes are currently perfect in the standings, although one of their wins came in a shootout. The Rattlers are the only team to currently find themselves without a chance to make the playoffs but continue to get better and better every time I see them play. They are a team that works well together in the system they play and they move the puck so well. There are two playoff spots up for grabs and the Ducks, Rage, and Cobras are going to do battles for those positions, while the Coyotes are still trying to hold on to that top seed.
The adult division is just getting underway as Medium White Tees (basically Excitement players) are playing M Hunter (basically Rattlercat players) currently and they are locked in a 2-2 tie near the end of one. Last night, the Coyotes adult team played the M Hunters and lost 6-3. That division will be a good one to watch as well as there is some great talent in that division. The KW Rage team was a late addition but the majority of that team is made up of ladies who came to play!!!!
Other than that, the rain has stopped, the sun came out for a little bit this afternoon but it's freezing!! I'm staying in the rink and so is everyone else. Stay updated on the website and I found out today that we have an app for scheduling. Just register on the website, download the app and stay up to date with up to the minute scheduling and scores. Once I find out more about it...I'll try and put you guys on to the info!!!
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