Fri, Jan 13 2012 01:58 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The CIF-Metro Conference’s South County roller hockey teams appear to have put a competitive spin on the circuit’s 12th season and, in the process, delivered a new rush of excitement to the sport locally.
Mesa League play faced off Monday at Skate San Diego in National City and the championship title appears very much up for grabs between three of the league’s four teams.
The Otay Ranch Mustangs inaugurated the 2012 league title race with a 25-2 victory against the Bonita Vista Barons. In the second game of the night, the Hilltop Lancers carried the momentum in a 5-1 win over the defending league champion Eastlake Titans.
“Eastlake has got a young team this year but their goalie is the best in the league,” Hilltop coach Dan Vaccaro said after the nail-biting contest. “I counted up the saves he had — 15 in the first period, 14 in the second period and at least 18 in the third period. What does that add up to? We won 5-1.”
Eastlake’s Darius Newhall’s 48 stops were the highlight of the game which was in doubt until midway through the third period when the Lancers scored two goals to pull away from what had been a tightly-played 3-1 contest.
Conference scoring leader George Godinez keyed Hilltop with a goal and two assists — a figure matched by co-captain Jeremiah Schultz. Nick Tesner, Giovanni Rude and Alfonso Arreguin also scored single goals to diversify the offensive attack.
Two of Hilltop’s first four goals came on rebound follow-up shots while the Lancers’ fifth goal came with just three seconds to play in the game.
“We’re doing well,” said Vacarro, whose team evened its overall record at 4-4 with the victory. “I’m proud of our kids. We’ve got some very talented kids and we’ve got some kids who are new. It’s a very diverse bunch.”
Lancer netminder Kevin Kananu is among the newcomers. He did well when called upon against the Titans, who were missing their leading scorer, freshman Aaron Meyer, for Monday’s tilt.
In fact, a 12-9 non-league loss to the Del Norte Nighthawks the preceding Thursday appears to have motivated the Hilltop team to raise its level of concentration and attention to fine detail in its defensive strategy.
Eastlake did not have a shot on goal in the first period but did manage 13 shots in the final two frames. Kananu was credited with 12 saves in the contest.
Rude scored the game’s jump goal with 5:00 left in the opening period after a lengthy spell of scoreless standoff hockey. Josh Randall evened the score for the Titans (2-5 overall) with the first goal of the second period.
But Tesner scored the go-ahead goal for Hilltop just 1:32 later and Arreguin gave the Lancers some much needed breathing room on a rebound goal with 4:03 left in the middle frame.
The unstoppable force in the Mesa League this season could be Otay Ranch after Monday’s offensive onslaught against the Barons (1-4 overall). Cole Beatie led the Mustangs (3-5 overall) with a whopping 14 points on nine goals and five assists while Devyn Taras chipped in with 10 points on four goals and six assists.
Also for Otay Ranch, Matt Mendez contributed three goals and three assists, Jason Albano had two goals and three assists and Ruben Sais was credited with two goals and two assists.
Jon Managbanag and Joey Parisi each scored twice in the game while Dzaire Dallas picked up a goal and assist.
Jon O’Brien scored both Bonita Vista goals to give him 18 for the season.
Beatie made up some ground on Godinez in the individual scoring race following Monday’s set of games. For the season, Hilltop’s Godinez has recorded 32 goals and 42 points while Beatie improved his statistical numbers to 30 goals and 38 points.
South Bay League
Castle Park rolled to its third win of the season after tripping up Sweetwater, 10-5, on Monday. David Anderson led the Trojans (2-5 in league, 3-7 overall) with four goals and three assists while teammate Juan Luna scored five goals.
Mauricio Estrada keyed the Red Devils (1-5 in league, 3-6 overall) with a hat trick.
Castle Park recorded its second victory of the season in a 14-0 non-league victory against Bonita Vista on Jan. 4. In that game, Anderson and Luna paced CP with four goals apiece.
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