Champs return home empty

The success of underdogs makes for great drama in sports. Based on recent results local hockey has an excess of gripping story-lines.

For the second consecutive season Cayman’s top two roller hockey teams were eliminated in the semi-finals. The top seed and defending champions the Barracudas and second seed High Rollers were both beaten Tuesday night in the Logic Adult Roller Hockey League playoffs.

The final scores were 9-8 and 6-5 in favour of underdogs the Islanders (who recently lost their sponsors Cayman Destination Management Services) and the Budget Beavers respectively. In the first contest the Islanders’ Jean-Louis Beaudet was the top scorer notching five points. Barracudas captain and fellow teenager Brad Galbraith had four points. In the other upset Budget’s Mark Missal added to his scoring total this season with five points. Dan Etherington had three points to lead the High Rollers.

Heading into the Cherry Cup finals this year are the fourth seed Islanders and third seed Budget Beavers (who suffered their first losing season ever with a 4-5-1 mark). The Logic arena of Kings Sports Centre hosts game one at 8pm next Tuesday 14 December. Game two is next Wednesday 15 December at 8pm and if necessary the third and decisive contest would be Sunday 19 December at 9am.

Etherington, the top scorer for the High Rollers in the regular season, was in an unusual position during the playoffs. He was one of the referees in the Islanders-Barracudas game and suited up afterwards to play Budget. The Hamilton, Ontario native states both match-ups had stand-out performances from top players.

“It was intense,” Etherington said. “The Islanders-Barracudas game was very up-tempo and very fast; definitely faster than usual. The stand-out guys for the Barracudas were Jason Windsor and Brad Galbraith and for the Islanders it was Pete (Holowchuk) and Rob (Rintoul). All of those guys played hard, got a couple of points and didn’t quit.

“In our game, well, Ryan (Vanderwal) of Budget had a really good game in net. He only let in five goals, which is really good in roller hockey. As for the High Rollers the whole team did well. Personally I still got to go to work. It sucks that it’s over. We tried but the reality is we won’t be playing for a bit. There will be no hockey for me for awhile.”

Etherington, 26, now sees the Islanders make their second straight Cherry Cup appearance. Last season they beat Budget in the semis before being swept by the Barracudas (who took down the High Rollers). In spite of recent history Etherington states Budget are the favourites next week.

“In the finals I’d pick Budget because of their goal-tending and because they boast the league’s leading scorer in Mark Missal. Then again the Islanders can certainly do well as they have very good players. For example Louie (Jean-Louis Beaudet) in a couple of years is going to be one of the best. He’s just a teenager and it’s a matter of him getting his game to the next level. You also got to watch out for Ray (Singh, Kings’ Athletic Director). He’s always lurking in the background.”

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