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MLK Weekend events have local inline hockey players on a roll Phillip Brents | Mon, Jan 27 2014 02:16 PM

Twenty-plus years later, the North American Roller Hockey Championship series, or simply, NARCh, arguably remains at the apex of the amateur inline hockey pyramid. The tournament series launched its 21st season with the 2014 West Coast Winternationals, held Jan. 17-20 at San Jose's posh Silver Creek Sportxplex.

Castle Park High School roller hockey coach Pat Johnson came home from the 126-team event over the MLK weekend with a second-place medal in the Men's Bronze Division after making the trek northward with the SD Beemers.

“All I can say is that's its big,” said Johnson, a graduate of Eastlake High School who has coached the Trojans for the past three seasons. “It's a big tournament that draws the best teams in North America and from around the world, in fact.”

This was Johnson's second West Coast Winternationals experience. He competed at the 2012 event, also held in San Jose, with No Green Cards Brasil. He was one of two American players who joined a core of seven Brazilians to help fill out the team's roster at the 134-team affair.

The players on the SD Beemers were a lot more familiar with each other before departing San Diego County for the Bay Area playing site.

“These were guys I had either played with or played against before,” Johnson explained. “This team was a lot better than the one I played on at Winternationals before. It was a lot of fun.”

Still, Johnson admitted it took a bit of time for everyone to get on the same page after not amassing a lot of practice time under their skates.

The Beemers defeated the Mission San Jose Inline Sharks, 4-3, in their opening game in the 12-team division and went on to finish 2-1 in pool play to qualify for the playoffs. The Beemers slipped past the Southern Stars, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and then topped Deviant Hockey, 4-2, in the semifinals to meet Merge in the championship game on Jan. 19.

Merge claimed an 8-2 decision to emerge as the Men's Bronze Division champions.

Johnson tallied three goals and three assists for the Beemers at this year's West Coast Winternationals.

“It was fun,” he said. “It's a chance to play good teams and teams you've never seen before, which is always challenging and makes things interesting.”

Johnson had little time to savor his latest NARCh experience, as he returned home to coach the Trojans to a third-place finish in the inaugural Pam Wiser Memorial Cup, held Jan. 20 at the Castle Park High School rink.

The six-team tournament paired teams from the CIF-Metro Conference's Mesa and South Bay leagues to honor the memory of former Chula Vista High School head coach Pam Wiser, who passed away unexpectedly following the 2010-11 season due to a brain aneurysm. The tournament was organized by Mar Vista head coach Manny Buenrostro and was highlighted by a skills competition.

The games proved to be highly competitive, with Castle Park scoring a hotly contested 1-0 victory against Mar Vista to secure third place.

In other placement games, Bonita Vista captured the tournament championship with a hard-fought 4-3 win over longtime rival Hilltop while it took a shootout goal by Dulce Espinoza to lift Sweetwater past Chula Vista in the firth-place game after the teams had played to a 1-1 tie through three 10-minute regulation periods and one five-minute overtime period.

“It was a great tournament,” Buenrostro said. “A lot more people came out to support the tournament than I thought there would be and the support from the teams was great. There was a lot of enthusiasm. It shows that the roller hockey community is close. This was a reward for all the kids.”

Southwest coach Jerry Nestlerode, who also serves as the Sweetwater district-appointed rink manager, elaborated on Wiser's positive contribution to the sport locally. After serving as head coach at CVHS, she finished out her coaching career as an assistant with the Raiders under Nestlerode.

“Pam was a great lady who obviously contributed a lot to the sport of roller hockey,” Nestlerode said. “She helped a lot of the teenage kids, especially teenage girls. She was able to help provide guidance for the female players that only another female could.

“I know for a fact that Chula Vista would not have a team today without Pam's involvement.”

In homage to Wiser's memory, the snack bar at the rink is affectionately named Pam's Corner.

On a roll
It's been 12 seasons since Bonita Vista won its last tournament championship. That came in the finals of the 2001-02 Kiwanis Cup playoffs. Winning the inaugural Pam Wiser Cup was no less gratifying, according to veteran head coach Keith Quigley.

“Before the game I looked over at Hilltop and saw their coach, Dan Vaccaro, who has been with them since the beginning, and here I am still here,” said Quigley, who has coached the Barons for the duration of their 16-year history. “It brought back a lot of old memories of how Bonita Vista and Hilltop used to go at it.

“Our goal for this tournament was to get to the championship game. It turned out to be a great hockey game. Our team is really starting to come together. Everyone is doing all the little things it takes to win.”

Bonita Vista finished 3-0 in the Jan. 20 tournament, including pool victories against Castle Park (9-3) and Chula Vista (4-1) to jump-start the day of events.

Jonathan O'Brien scored all seven goals for the Barons in the win over Castle Park and tacked on all four goals against Chula Vista. He scored all four BVHS goals in the championship game, including what proved to be the game-winner on a half-court shot, to finish the tournament with 15 goals.

Hilltop defeated Sweetwater (5-0) and Mar Vista (2-1) to win its pool and meet the Barons in the cross-over final.

Andrew Tesner had three goals and Gerardo Martinez and Danny Godinez each were credited with one goal in the win over Sweetwater while goals by Phillip Fune and Pablo Corona helped carry the Lancers past the Mariners. Corona's deciding goal, which came in the game's dying minutes, off-set an earlier goal by MV's Billy Warren.

In the championship game, O'Brien scored in the opening 10 seconds to give Bonita Vista a quick 1-0 advantage but Hilltop responded with tallies by Fune and Sebastian Ross to take a 2-1 lead.

O'Brien then went on a tear by scoring the game's next three goals to push the Barons ahead 4-2. But Ross collected his third point of the game (two goals, one assist) when he scored with 2:31 to play in regulation to trim the Lancer deficit to a single goal.

But the BVHS defense and star netminder Hawk Anderson proved up to the challenge to seal the win. Anderson and O'Brien were named co-players of the game by Quigley.

The championship game victory upped the Barons' season record to 8-2, and extended the team's amazing winning streak to seven games. Hilltop upped its overall record to 6-5 with its 2-1 tourney showing.

In the third-place match-up, player-of-the-game Miguel Flores scored late in the first period to brace the shutout goaltending by CPHS teammate Hector Garcia.

The Trojans finished the tournament with a 2-1 record after previously tipping Chula Vista, 3-1, in pool play. Flores, Nacho Mireles and Freddie Perez each scored goals in the win over the Spartans while Mireles scored twice and Tavian Black scored once in the loss to Bonita Vista.

Both Chula Vista and Sweetwater finished 0-2 in pool play and thus met in the tournament's fifth-place game. Defense proved to be the standing order of the day between the two South Bay League rivals. Bill Frias, assisted by Ulises Mireles, scored to give the Red Devils the early lead but Marco Garcia, assisted by Mikey Thompson, later scored the equalizer.

After a scoreless overtime period, the teams went into a five-round shootout. Perhaps predictably, the opposing goaltenders dominated the first four rounds to keep the tie-breaker scoreless. But SuHi's Espinoza scored on the final shot in the five-round shootout to propel the Devils to the emotional victory.

“It was a great win for us,” said Espinoza, who earned honors as player of the game. “When it was my turn, I just didn't want to miss.”

A skills competition involving all the players from the six teams took place before the three placement games. Events included fastest skater and a breakaway-goal shootout.

BV's O'Brien bested MV's Evan Lovstrom in the finals after Lovstrom eliminated CP's David Lopez in the semifinals.

Hilltop's Diana Vejar won the breakaway-goal competition while CP's Garcia captured the top goaltender award.

Sweetwater's Moses Ponce and Mar Vista's Bryan Dennis joined CP's Garcia in the breakaway-goal finals after failing to allow a goal in preliminary play.

In the preliminary round, players from the same team took shots on their own netminder.

“We always do one-on-one shots in practice, so it wasn't too different at first,” Dennis explained. “But then in the next round, players from other teams (still alive in the breakaway-goal competition) took the  shots, so it was a little different facing them one-on-one. It made it more of a challenge to try to figure out where they were going to shoot. But it was fun.”

“It was pretty cool,” SuHi's Ponce said. “It was a great experience.”

Hilltop's Vacarro praised the “organized” nature of the day's events.

“This turned out to be a really nice event,” he said.

Buenrostro said plans are to continue the event on the MLK holiday next year.


Pam Wiser Memorial Cup
Tournament Scoring

Jonathan O'Brien (Bonita Vista) 15 goals, 0 assists, 15 points
Nacho Mireles (Castle Park) 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points
Andrew Tesner (Hilltop) 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points
Sebastian Ross (Hilltop) 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points
Ulises Mireles (Sweetwater) 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points
Miguel Flores (Castle Park) 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points
Billy Warren (Mar Vista) 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points
Phillip Fuñe (Hilltop) 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points
Dane Bottomley (Mar Vista) 2 goals, 0 assists, 2 points
Tavian Black (Castle Park) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Freddy Perez (Castle Park) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Danny Godinez (Hilltop) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Gerardo Martinez (Hilltop) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Pablo Corona (Hilltop) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Bill Frias (Sweetwater) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Ellia Manzo (Chula Vista) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
David Garcia (Chula Vista) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Marco Garcia (Chula Vista) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Eloy Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
Austin Hoffman (Mar Vista) 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point
Mikey Thompson (Chula Vista) 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point



CIF-Metro Conference 2013-14 Standings
(Through Jan. 24)

South Bay League

Southwest Raiders 7-0, 8-1
Mar Vista Mariners 4-3, 5-9
Castle Park Trojans 4-3, 6-9
Sweetwater Red Devils 1-5, 2-10
Chula Vista Spartans 1-6, 1-13

Mesa League
Eastlake Titans 4-0, 10-1
Otay Ranch Mustangs 3-1, 5-3
Bonita Vista Barons 1-3, 9-3
Hilltop Lancers 0-4, 7-6

Central League
West Hills Wolf Pack 3-0, 5-4
Cathedral Catholic Dons 3-1, 5-3
La Jolla Country Day Torreys 1-3, 5-5
St. Augustine Saints 1-4, 2-7

North County League

x-Westview Wolverines 5-1, 8-1
Rancho Bernardo Broncos 5-2, 8-2
Poway Titans 3-3, 7-3
Scripps Ranch Falcons 2-4, 3-6
x-Del Norte Nighthawks 0-5, 0-9
x-missing game score
Note: overall records for Mesa/South Bay League teams include Pam Wiser Cup placement games

Monday, Jan. 6

Central League

West Hills 8, St. Augustine 2
Cathedral Catholic 8,  La Jolla Country Day 1

Wednesday, Jan. 8

Scripps Ranch 6, West Hills 3

Westview 12, La Jolla Country Day 2

Poway 12, St. Augustine 1

Cathedral Catholic 1, Del Norte 0 (forfeit)

Monday, Jan. 13
North County League

Westview 6, Poway 5
Rancho Bernardo 1, Del Norte 0 (forfeit)

Bonita Vista 5, Mar Vista 3
Eastlake 11, Scripps Ranch 6

Tuesday, Jan. 14

Mesa League

Eastlake 15, Hilltop 1

Bonita Vista 9, Otay Ranch 6

Wednesday, Jan. 15
North County League

Rancho Bernardo 9, Westview 3
Scripps Ranch 5, Poway 4 (OT)
Cathedral Catholic 7, Del Norte 4

Hilltop 8, Castle Park 4

La Jolla Country Day 13, Otay Ranch 0

Thursday, Jan. 16
South Bay League

Southwest 7, Chula Vista 2
Castle Park 5, Mar Vista 4

Friday, Jan. 17

South Bay League

Mar Vista 4, Chula Vista 0

Southwest 14, Sweetwater 0

Eastlake 26, Castle Park 0

Monday, Jan. 20

Rancho Bernardo 16, West Hills 0
Poway 9, Cathedral Catholic 4
La Jolla Country Day 11, Del Norte 1
Westview 6, St. Augustine 1

Tuesday, Jan. 21
Mesa League

Otay Ranch 7, Hilltop 3
Eastlake 15, Bonita Vista 1

South Bay League

Chula Vista 3, Sweetwater 0

Wednesday, Jan. 22
South Bay League

Southwest 5, Castle Park 0

Eastlake 18, Mar Vista 0

North County League
Rancho Bernardo 17, Scripps Ranch 1
Westview vs. Del Norte, no report

Central League

West Hills 7, Cathedral Catholic 5
St. Augustine 6, La Jolla Country Day 5

Thursday, Jan. 23

Bonita Vista 8, Castle Park 3
Otay Ranch 6, Chula Vista 0
Hilltop 5, Sweetwater 0
Poway 7, West Hills 5

Friday, Jan. 24
South Bay League

Southwest 6, Mar Vista 2
Castle Park 6, Sweetwater 0

Eastlake 19, Chula Vista 0

CIF-Metro Conference Scoring Leaders
(Through Jan. 24)
Sweetwater District Teams

•Aaron Mayer (Eastlake) 56 goals, 38 assists, 94 points
•Jon O’Brien (Bonita Vista) 56 goals, 2 assist, 58 points
•Michael Mechling (Eastlake) 27 goals, 23 assists, 50 points
•Angel Rocha (Southwest) 35 goals, 6 assists, 41 points
•Sam Bawden (Eastlake) 19 goals, 9 assists, 28 points
•Devyn Taras (Otay Ranch) 20 goals, 6 assists, 26 points
•Nacho Mireles (Castle Park) 19 goals, 3 assists, 22 points
•Nick Rodriguez (Eastlake) 14 goals, 7 assists, 21 points
•Will Winters (Eastlake) 14 goals, 7 assists, 21 points
•Sebastian Ross (Hilltop) 15 goals, 5 assists, 20 points
•Andrew Tesner (Hilltop) 13 goals, 6 assists, 19 points
•Nick Ziccardi (Eastlake) 12 goals, 6 assists, 18 points
•Eloy Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 17 goals, 0 assists, 17 points
•Phillip Fuñe (Hilltop) 13 goals, 3 assists, 16 points
•Carlos Barrios (Otay Ranch) 11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points
•Ulises Mireles (Sweetwater) 12 goals, 2 assist, 14 points
•Miguel Flores (Castle Park) 11 goals, 3 assists, 14 points
•Danny Castillo (Eastlake) 12 goals, 0 assists, 12 points
•Billy Warren (Mar Vista) 10 goals, 2 assists, 12 points
•Austin Hoffman (Mar Vista) 8 goals, 4 assists, 12 points
•Ricardo Mendoza (Eastlake) 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points
•Pablo Corona (Hilltop) 6 goals, 1 assist, 7 points
•Mario Licudine (Sweetwater) 6 goals, 1 assist, 7 points
•Giancarlo Dongo (Bonita Vista) 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points
•Danny Diaz (Southwest) 5 goals, 2 assist, 7 points
•Gabe Sanchez (Eastlake) 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points
•Freddie Perez (Castle Park) 6 goals, 0 assists, 6 points
•Thomas Giltner (Bonita Vista) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Henry Avalos (Southwest) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Dane Bottomley (Mar Vista) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Evan Lovstrom (Mar Vista) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Mikey Thompson (Chula Vista) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Sheina Dunnells (Bonita Vista) 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points
•Marvin Cirignano (Castle Park) 5 goals, 0 assists, 5 points
•Ellia Manzo (Chula Vista) 5 goals, 0 assists, 5 points
•Isaac Montero (Castle Park) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Gerardo Martinez (Hilltop) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Ruben Ponce (Otay Ranch) 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points

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