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Race tightens for upcoming Kiwanis Cup roller hockey playoffs Phillip Brents | Mon, Feb 03 2014 09:25 PM

Perhaps more than any other season in the 14-year history of the CIF-Metro Conference, the identity of the Kiwanis Cup champion remains a total mystery heading into the final three weeks of regular season play.

Will it be the Westview Wolverines? The Rancho Bernardo Broncos? The Cathedral Catholic Dons or even the Eastlake Titans?

One of the above seems to be a safe bet, but recent results favor a few upsets in this year’s 12-team playoff field. The rankings, in fact, may flat-line by the time the regular season is over.

There may be no favorites.

“The playoffs are going to be very interesting this season,” Rancho Bernardo coach Pat Sagara noted. “There really is no clear ‘favorite’ as in seasons past where there were one maybe two teams that were clear favorites to take the title. As shown by the scores to this point in the season, several teams have shown they are capable of winning it all.  All it takes is for a goalie and/or team to get on a hot streak like West Hills did last year, and they can take the title.”

In games on Monday, for instance, the Scripps Ranch Falcons doubled up the La Jolla Country Day Torreys, 8-4, on hat tricks by Zach Lopez and Carl Smith while Brent Oliver and London Peters each had one goal.

These are the same Falcons that scored a 5-4 overtime win over Poway recently and the same team that went down, 11-6, to Eastlake in a non-league encounter. LJCD shaded Eastlake, 8-5, in an early season game.

So, the teams that are playing well at the end of the season obviously will have an advantage when the playoffs roll around.

St. Augustine, which fell to Eastlake, 8-3, to face off the season, defeated LJCD, 6-5, in a recent Central League game, and LJCD recently shut down defending Kiwanis Cup champion West Hills, 4-2, in another Central League contest.

West Hills, in turn, stunned Cathedral Catholic, 7-5, in a recent Central League encounter. The Wolf Pack and the Falcons have split their two games this season, with Scripps taking the rematch 6-3 after falling 7-1 in the teams' season opener.

So, who has the advantage? It really seems that on any given night, any team can beat the other.

That’s called parity – and it seems to be ruling the conference this season more than in any other.

“The teams in the Central League have gotten a little tighter,” said St. Augustine coach Christian Da Luz following the Saints’ 13-0 non-league win over Otay Ranch Monday at the Castle Park High School rink.

The victory raised St. Augustine’s overall record to 4-7. The Saints are 2-4 in league play, trailing West Hills (3-1 in league, 5-6 overall), Cathedral Catholic (3-2 in league, 5-6 overall) and LJCD (2-3 in league, 7-6 overall).

La Jolla Country Day is undefeated against Sweetwater district teams this season. The Torreys have beaten Eastlake, Otay Ranch and Southwest while the Saints have defeated Southwest.

Ian Harkness led St. Augustine in Monday’s game with four goals while Jay Farrell scored three times, Fernando Huerta had three assists, Phil Park and Charlie Tomlin each collected two goals and one assist, Nick Heid scored twice and Nick Tarantino contributed a pair of helpers.

Westview and Rancho Bernardo have split their two games thus far in North County League play. The Wolverines topped West Hills, 8-0, in a high profile encounter last week while the Broncos blasted a short-handed Wolf Pack squad by a score of 16-0 the week before that.

Westview entered the week with a conference best 11-1 overall record, followed by Rancho Bernardo at 10-2. The Broncos’ other loss this season has been to Poway.

Poway entered the week 8-4 on the season, 4-4 in North County League play.

The Wolverines bested preseason No. 1 Cathedral Catholic, 13-3, on Jan. 30 after RB had hammered the Dons 11-0 the previous night.

Eastlake, this year’s Sweetwater district monster squad with a runaway 11-1 record, fits in somewhere among the conference’s top six or seven teams – perhaps as high as third or fourth on a good day when the puck is bouncing the right way for the Titans.

Many are predicting Eastlake as the favorite to win next year’s Kiwanis Cup championship title should all the talented underclassmen on this year’s squad stay together next year.

But after what the Seattle Seahawks did to the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII, one has to ask … Why not the Titans? Why not this year?

Any way it turns out, it looks to be fun at the end of February for a lot of teams concerned.

In other games Monday at CPHS:

Southwest 9, Sweetwater 2
The Raiders inched closer to securing this year's South Bay League championship after downing the Red Devils to open up a three-game cushion on second place Castle Park in the league standings. Angel Rocha led Southwest with six goals and one assist while Henry Avalos chipped in with a goal and two assists. Ulises Mireles scored twice for Sweetwater.

Mar Vista 2, Chula Vista 0
This late in the season, there doesn't appear to be much separating many of the Sweetwater district teams. That was aptly put on display in this incredibly close match-up between the Mariners and Spartans. Mar Vista got goals from Eloy Rodriguez and Adrian Contreras and a solid defensive effort from goaltender Bryan Dennis to record the shutout victory.


In games played Wednesday at CPHS:

Bonita Vista 9, Hilltop 1
Jonathan O'Brien racked up six goals and one assist in the Barons' most complete victory of the season against a Hilltop squad missing three key players, according to Lancer coach Dan Vaccaro. Still, the Barons skated to perhaps their best showing of the season in the Mesa League encounter, with multiple players contributing to both the solid offensive and defensive effort. Thomas Giltner, Alex Tran and Giancarlo Dongo each scored single goals for Bonita Vista, which also received an assist from Sheina Dunnells. Andrew Tesner scored the long goal for Hilltop.

Eastlake 12, Otay Ranch 3
The Titans are starting to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the Mesa League after zipping past the rival Mustangs. Conference scoring leader Aaron Mayer paced Eastlake's latest effort with 10 points on five goals and five assists while Danny Castillo contributed four points (two goals, two assists), Sam Bawden scored twice, Will Winters collected a goal and assist and Micke Mechling and Nick Rodriguez each scored once. Devyn Taras led Otay Ranch with two goals and one asssit. Ruben Ponce scored the Mustangs' other goal.

The key victory raised he Titans' season record to 12-1, 6-0 in league play. "I think we're on pace," EHS coach Ron Cole said. "The story will be written soon when we face more non-district teams."


In another game Wednesday at the Escondido Sports Center:

Poway 12, Scripps Ranch 4
It was the Eric Wright show as the Titan sniper fired in five goals to lead his team to a North County win over the Falcons. Shane O'Brien tallied three goals for Poway while Charlie Leibman and Nick Brooks each scored twice.


In a game played Thursday at the CPHS rink:

Otay Ranch 1, Castle Park 1
Ruben Ponce gave the Mustangs a 1 -0 lead and Castle Park's Nacho Mireles notched the game-tying goal in a game called after two periods due to rain.

In games played Friday at the CPHS rink:

Southwest 4, Castle Park 1

The Raiders secured the rights to this year's South Bay League championship banner with the win. Southwest is four games ahead of both Mar Vista and Castle Park in the league standings with two games to play. The game was befitting of a championship encounter with the Raiders and Trojans skating through a scoreless first period. Southwest went up 2-0 on a pair of goals scored by team leader Angel Rocha, both off CPHS turnovers in the Trojans' own zone. Rocha' second goal was a thing of beauty -- and a perfect example of following up a play. The Southwest scoring wizard stole the puck, raced in on CP netminder Hector Garcia, attempted to go top shelf, with Garcia batting the puck to his left. But Rocha's momentum took him in the same direction and he reached back to lift the back into the near corner. Robust cheers from the Raiders bench drew special attention to the effort. Rocha scored again in the third period and added an empty net goal to finish the game with four goals.

Chula Vista 8, Sweetwater 3

The Spartans put together their most productive game of the season to move out of the South Bay League cellar. Mikey Thompson scored a season-high five goals and one assist and Ellia Manzo also recorded a hat trick for Chula Vista, which has clearly come on in the late stages of the season. Ulises Mireles remains the standout player for Sweetwater, finishing the game with three goals of his own. The Red Devils led early on in the game by a score of 2-1.

Hilltop 3, Mar Vista 2

In the closest game of the night, Phillip Fuñe snapped a 2-2 tie with a goal from the sideboards with 30 seconds to play to give Hilltop a dramatic non-league victory. The Lancers carried the momentum early, finishing the opening period with a 1-0 lead after Cameron Adams slid in a puck that lay motionless in front of the Mariner net after trickling through the pads of goaltender Bryan Dennis. But Mar Vista picked up the pace in the final two periods and generated the better scoring plays before Fuñe's game-winner. Eloy Rodriguez scored his 20th goal of the season to tie the game for the Mariners in the second period. Hilltop regained the lead, 2-1, on a goal by Pablo Corona later in the stanza but Cindy Moeller's goal midway through the third period knotted the game up again. The Lancers, facing a possible overtime encounter with the Mariners, scored the game-winner on a power play, with an infraction whistled on Mar Vista with 1:00 left in regulation play.


CIF-Metro Conference 2013-14 Standings
(Based on reported scores through Feb. 7)

South Bay League

y-Southwest Raiders 10-0, 11-2
Castle Park Trojans 6-4, 8-10-1
Mar Vista Mariners 6-4, 7-11
Chula Vista Spartans 2-9, 2-16
Sweetwater Red Devils 1-8, 2-14

Mesa League
Eastlake Titans 6-0, 12-1
Bonita Vista Barons 3-3, 11-3
Otay Ranch Mustangs 3-3, 6-6-1
Hilltop Lancers 0-6, 8-8

Central League

Cathedral Catholic Dons 5-2, 7-6
West Hills Wolf Pack 4-2, 6-7
La Jolla Country Day Torreys 2-4, 7-7
St. Augustine Saints 2-5, 5-8

North County League
Rancho Bernardo Broncos 8-2, 12-2
Westview Wolverines 8-2, 13-2
Poway Titans 5-5, 9-5
Scripps Ranch Falcons 3-6, 5-8
Del Norte Nighthawks 0-9, 0-14

Note: Overall records for Mesa/South Bay league teams includes placement games in the Pam Wiser Memorial Cup

Week 8
Monday, Feb. 3
South Bay League

Southwest 9, Sweetwater 2
Mar Vista 2, Chula Vista 0

North County League
Rancho Bernardo 1, Del Norte 0 (forfeit)
Westview 9, Poway 1

St. Augustine 13, Otay Ranch 0
Scripps Ranch 8, La Jolla Country Day 4
Cathedral Catholic 7, West Hills 2

Tuesday, Feb. 4
Hilltop vs. Eastlake, postponed, wet surface
Bonita Vista vs. Otay Ranch, postponed, wet surface

Wednesday, Feb. 5
Mesa League

Bonita Vista 9, Hilltop 1
Eastlake 12, Otay Ranch 3

North County League
Rancho Bernardo 5, Westview 3
Poway 12, Scripps Ranch 4

Central League
West Hills 7, St. Augustine 6
Cathedral 7, La Jolla Country Day 0

Thursday, Feb. 6

St. Augustine 9, Del Norte 6
Otay Ranch 1, Castle Park 1
Bonita Vista vs. La Jolla Country Day, postponed, rain

Friday, Feb. 7
South Bay League

Southwest 4, Castle Park 1
Chula Vista 8, Sweetwater 3

Hilltop 3, Mar Vista 2

Week 7
Monday, Jan. 27
South Bay League

Castle Park 5, Chula Vista 3
Mar Vista 4, Sweetwater 0

Central League
St. Augustine 1, Cathedral Catholic 0 (forfeit)

North County League
Scripps Ranch 9, Del Norte 5
Rancho Bernardo 12, Poway 2

La Jolla Country Day 6, Southwest 3
Westview 8, West Hills 0

Tuesday, Jan. 28
Mesa League
Eastlake 10, Otay Ranch 1
Bonita Vista 5, Hilltop 4 (OT)

Wednesday, Jan. 29
North County League

Westview 10, Scripps Ranch 3
Poway 9, Del Norte 5

Central League
La Jolla Country Day 4, West Hills 2

Rancho Bernardo 11, Cathedral Catholic 0

Thursday, Jan. 30

Westview 13, Cathedral Catholic 3

Friday, Jan. 31
South Bay League

Southwest 8, Chula Vista 2
Castle Park 1, Mar Vista 0 (forfeit)

Otay Ranch 12, Sweetwater 1

Scripps Ranch 9, Del Norte 5
Jan. 28:
Brent Oliver scored three goals and Scott Rhyne had two goals for the victorious Falcons

Poway 9, Del Norte 5
Jan. 29:
Poway goals: Jonah Regina 2; Eric Wright 2; Kit Carter 2; Shane O'Brien 2; Jeff Hutton: 1


Week 6
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 16, Del Norte 4

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 Feb. 7)
Sweetwater District Teams

•Aaron Mayer (Eastlake) 67 goals, 43 assists, 110 points
•Jon O’Brien (Bonita Vista) 66 goals, 4 assist, 70 points
•Angel Rocha (Southwest) 54 goals, 9 assists, 63 points
•Michael Mechling (Eastlake) 28 goals, 24 assists, 52 points
•Devyn Taras (Otay Ranch) 26 goals, 11 assists, 37 points
•Sam Bawden (Eastlake) 23 goals, 11 assists, 34 points
•Nacho Mireles (Castle Park) 22 goals, 4 assists, 26 points
•Will Winters (Eastlake) 15 goals, 9 assists, 24 points
•Nick Rodriguez (Eastlake) 16 goals, 7 assists, 23 points
•Andrew Tesner (Hilltop) 15 goals, 7 assists, 22 points
•Eloy Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 20 goals, 0 assists, 20 points
•Ulises Mireles (Sweetwater) 18 goals, 2 assist, 20 points
•Sebastian Ross (Hilltop) 15 goals, 5 assists, 20 points
•Phillip Fuñe (Hilltop) 16 goals, 3 assists, 19 points
•Nick Ziccardi (Eastlake) 13 goals, 6 assists, 19 points
•Danny Castillo (Eastlake) 14 goals, 4 assists, 18 points
•Carlos Barrios (Otay Ranch) 12 goals, 6 assists, 18 points
•Miguel Flores (Castle Park) 14 goals, 3 assists, 17 points
•Mikey Thompson (Chula Vista) 12 goals, 2 assist, 14 points
•Billy Warren (Mar Vista) 11 goals, 2 assists, 13 points
•Austin Hoffman (Mar Vista) 9 goals, 4 assists, 13 points
•Ellia Manzo (Chula Vista) 8 goals, 2 assists, 10 points
•Ruben Ponce (Otay Ranch) 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points
•Giancarlo Dongo (Bonita Vista) 7 goals, 2 assists, 9 points
•Henry Avalos (Southwest) 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points
•Ricardo Mendoza (Eastlake) 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points
•Pablo Corona (Hilltop) 7 goals, 1 assist, 8 points
•Thomas Giltner (Bonita Vista) 6 goals, 2 assist, 8 points
•Danny Diaz (Southwest) 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points
•Freddie Perez (Castle Park) 7 goals, 0 assists, 7 points
•Mario Licudine (Sweetwater) 6 goals, 1 assist, 7 points
•Gabe Sanchez (Eastlake) 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points
•Sheina Dunnells (Bonita Vista) 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points
•Dane Bottomley (Mar Vista) 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points
•Evan Lovstrom (Mar 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
•Isaac Montero (Castle Park) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Gerardo Martinez (Hilltop) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Christian Gonzalez (Southwest) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Adrian Contreras (Mar Vista) 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
•Cindy Moeller (Mar Vista) 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points

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