The national hockey champions of the Cayman Islands want a third consecutive championship.
After claiming the 2011 Fall Cherry Cup series, ITS Cayman have their focus on a three-peat. Among those looking to add to their trophy case is star goalie Randy Cannon, 27.
“It’s a three-peat for sure,” Cannon said. “I think we can do it, as long as we keep coming together around playoff time. We’re a playoff team.”
Cannon saw his squad beat the High Rollers at Kings Sports Centre. ITS won game one 8-4 before completing the sweep with a 7-6 overtime victory in game two of the best-of-three series. The native of Prince Edward Island in Canada is a Logic Adult Roller Hockey League winner for the second consecutive campaign after claiming the 2011 Spring title. He now has three local hockey titles to his name, with the other honour being a ball hockey trophy last year.
While Cannon is used to winning, being a champion is a new experience for some of his team-mates. Among them is forward Ryan Pull, 27. The Niagara Falls, Canada native states he’s pleased to hoist the Cherry Cup and wants to do it again.
“It feels awesome to win the championship,” Pull said. “I’m playing with a bunch of great guys. As for a three-peat, I say lets go out and have another (championship). Even if we have to signs guys to big contracts. We’re a dynasty team that can bring it back.”
Game two was an intense affair. ITS had a narrow 6-5 edge heading into the last minute before the High Rollers scored a controversial high stick goal in front of net with 17 seconds remaining to force overtime. From there ITS captain Mark Missal grabbed the game-winning goal with 1.26 left in the extra session.
By and large, the key guys excelled on both sides. Rob Leadbetter and Joe Jewitt steadied the ITS defence while Eric Mildenberger, Dan Etherington and Tim Courtis notched goals for the High Rollers. Cannon states some other players contributed for ITS.
“Game two wasn’t my strongest game of the series. I made saves when I had to make them. We stopped a good high-flowing side and the boys really picked me up. Our rookie Ryan (Pull) and Curtis ‘Curty’ Appleyard really clicked. Ryan’s new to roller hockey and stepped up this season. Curty made good defensive plays.”
ITS’ Cherry Cup win is the latest chapter in the saga with their rivals. ITS beat the High Rollers for the Spring title and have consistently fought the Rollers for years, dating back to their days as the Budget Beavers. While most of the team is familiar with that history, it’s all new territory for Pull.
“This is my first season and I was recruited by Curty. When I moved down here and started playing I didn’t expect it to be so competitive. It’s like ball hockey on ice. I had never played roller before, not in a competitive league. It would be just on the driveway or street back home. It’s a little different, you can’t stop as quick.”