The Snow Stops Here!

What a weekend!  66 teams, 161 games, and lots of memories that will never be forgotten here in Mt. Pleasant, PA at the 2014 Steel City Winter Cup!

We crowned 17 champions this weekend, and the look on some of these kid’s faces was priceless.  It has been a long time since Western PA has had a chance to play in an event of this size in their backyard.  For some of these kids, it was also their first chance at seeing some of best players in the world compete in our PRO Series.

We had teams competing in this event from up and down the east coast, many of which braved the elements and made it safely into the Pittsburgh area to compete in this event. At various times throughout the weekend, the snow was falling outside, which created an atmosphere perfect for this event.  Several people told me this helped create the ideal atmosphere for a Winter Cup event.  Next year, we will try to plan it so it just snows at the event, and not before!

Unfortunately, with things being so busy, I was not able to watch as much hockey this weekend as I normally do, but I did catch a couple of the top games throughout the weekend.  The first one was the Mite Tier 1 championship between Team Caballeros and BIRR on Sunday afternoon.  After playing to a 4-4 draw during regulation, the game headed into overtime.  I was standing next to George Brown, who predicted Ben Stewart of Team Caballeros would get the OT winner.  Of course, that is exactly what happened.  Stewart took a pass at the top of the left circle and wristed a shot right under the bar into the top corner of the net to give the team from Ohio the championship.  The rink exploded, as Stewart was mobbed by his teammates.  I am sure George will remind me often of his Nostradamus-like prediction!

We had 8 teams competing in our PRO Series.  As is customary for Winter Cup events, rosters are scaled back a bit with a lot of guys away playing ice hockey or across the pond play inline in the European leagues.  That being said, we were treated to some great hockey in this division.  While I thought there was a good chance of an upset due to the rosters missing some key players, the 2 favorites, PAMA Alkali Cyclones and Tour Mudcats, headed into the championship game on Monday afternoon.  After an early goal by PAMA Alkali’s Gerry Osterkamp gave the Cyclones a 1-0 lead, Casey Escarsega tied it at 1 late in the first finishing a pretty passing play.  The game stayed that way throughout the 2nd, and looked destined to head into overtime until the Kettler brothers broke through for a 2 on 1 break.  Cory made no mistake snapping a shot past Mudcat goalie Brett Leggat for a 3-2 Cyclones lead with 15.5 seconds remaining.  They held on for the 3-2 win.

 Here is a full recap of the weekends’ champions for each division!

Atom (8u): Tour Roadrunners(NY)

Mite (10u) Tier 1: Team Caballeros(OH)

Mite (10u) Tier 2: Bridgeville Bulldawgz(PA)

Squirt (12u) Tier 1: Tour Roadrunners 01/02(NY)

Squirt (12u) Tier 2: Pittsburgh Reebok Bandits(PA)

Peewee (14u) Tier 1: Tour Roadrunners 99 Black(NY)

Peewee (14u) Tier 2: Revision Inferno(PA)

Bantam (16u) Tier 1: Tour Roadrunners 98/99(NY)

Bantam (16u) Tier 2: Alkali Assault(NC)

Midget (18u) Tier 1: Mission Black Ice(NY)

Midget (18u) Tier 2: Tour Roadrunners 96(NY)

Junior (21u): Mission Black Ice(NY)

Highschool: Francis Howell North (MOIHA)

Mens Bronze: Pittsburgh Phantoms(PA)

Mens Silver: Mission Black Ice(NY)

Mens Gold: Tour Excitement(NY)

PRO Series: PAMA Alkali Cyclones(CA)

All in all, it was a very smooth event after the first puck was dropped on Friday afternoon.  I think it is important to recognize 2 guys for everything they do for not only our organization, but also the sport as a whole.   Jason Muro with the Mission Black Ice and Anthony ‘Vio’ Violante with the Tour Roadrunners deserve a ton of credit.  Not only do these guys bring the teams, but they also are very understanding during the event.  Often times, these guys are running from rink to rink, and when things get off schedule, it can become very challenging for them.  These guys have been around the game for a long time, and we certainly appreciate the support we receive from their teams and families.

I would also like to thank Nick Pilotti and his staff at Hot Shots who did a wonderful job hosting us this weekend, and of course our Platinum Sponsors, Tour Hockey and Alkali Hockey for their presence at the event!

That wraps things up from PA for our 2014 Steel City Winter Cup.  Thanks again to all the teams, players, and coaches for participating in this year's event!  Up next is the start of our Regional season, with our first event scheduled March 1-2 in Snellville, GA.  We are looking forward to seeing teams qualify on their road to Aston, PA for our 2014 National Championships!