The Roller Hockey at Kings Sports Centre welcomed Burger King Game Birds as new champions for the spring/summer 2015 league last month.
They won 4-3 in a pulsating final against the Cayman Hot Sauce Flames, who won the title the previous three seasons.
With two of the top five goal scorers in Dan “Nifty” Etherington, 29 goals, and Dennis “Top Corner” Paschier, 17 goals, during the regular season, the Game Birds finished in first place after a grueling 15-game campaign.
Game Birds beat MaplesFS High Rollers in the semifinal playoff to face the Flames in the finals.
The Flames drew the Evan Ellbogen-led Sharks team in their playoff semifinal and managed to get past the team with the most goals scored during the regular season.
The Flames were coming off an excellent season with players including the Bowden brothers, Mike and Andrew, a couple of the best two-way players in the league. They can thank strong goaltending from Andrew Finlason and stellar offense from Brian Lehnerer and Derek Bruce for their superb season.
Game Birds players who had outstanding campaigns included Brendon “Relentless” Malice, Brendan “Two-way” Rainonen and Fiona “Feisty” McLeod, the only female player in the Cayman Islands Roller Hockey League. Others who made sterling contributions were Jagger “Speedy” Hope, Devon “Heysus” Malice, Patrick “Grinder” Agemian and Colin “The Agitator” Wilson.
Etherington probably scored his most important goal of the season when, toward the end, he got the Game Birds winner.
The team’s most valuable player was goalie Jeremy “The Wall” Olynik, who had a spectacular finals, restricting the potent Flames offense to only three goals. Game Birds captain Fareed Hosein hoisted the Cherry Cup after a three-year hiatus.
The Game Birds lineup, which is quite strong, will change next season as they are losing Jagger Hope, who is going abroad to study. Other than that, they will retain all of the other core players.
“We are very confident that we can repeat as champions for the upcoming fall season,” said Hosein.
“Our star players such as Dan Etherington, who was the second-leading scorer for the league and the bulk of our offense, will be important for defending our crown. Jeremy Olynik will be crucial to making a run for the cup next season.”
Hosein added that as captain his main role was putting together a team that could compete for the title and helping all the players through the ups and downs of the regular campaign.
Hosein said, “It was a fun season with all of the teams equally matched, which resulted in a lot of competitive games during the year.
“Ultimately, we would like to grow the sport in the Cayman Islands [so] even beginners can have an opportunity to get involved.”
The teams consist of experienced players with high skill levels along with some novices, so it’s open to all levels.
On Sundays they have open sessions, which is a good way to learn the sport and get acclimated to the game prior to joining the league, which has its games on Tuesday nights.
The fall roller hockey season will begin in September. Interested players should contact Dennis Paschier at [email protected] for further information.