Cayman teams advance in youth roller hockey qualifiers

High scorer Jaxon Cover, on a roll.

The Cayman Islands Youth Roller Hockey team traveled to California April 27-30 for the Irvine Regional Qualifier, where teams aimed to qualify for the North American Roller Hockey Championships (NARCh) that will be held in July. Both the 8-and-under and 12-and-under teams qualified through to the Gold Division, with the 8-U taking the silver medal. The 10-U team took the silver medal in the Silver Division.

The Cayman Islands 10-U team kicked off the tournament on April 28 against the Temecula Valley Warriors from Southern California. Cayman lost 8-6, but, a press release states, “These boys demonstrated their stamina, taking on the Arizona Outlaws only an hour later with a crushing 8-0 victory.”

The 10-U team played their final qualifying round against the Pama Cyclones, who field some of the strongest roller hockey teams in the nation from age groups to the pro leagues. The 10-U results earned them a spot in the Silver Division semifinal, where they beat the Militia White to advance to the final. Cayman played a strong game against the Pama Cyclones in the final, but fell short, taking home the silver medal.

Cayman 12-U goalie Kaden Hiryok defends the net in Cayman’s 12-and-under team’s 5-0 defeat of Huntington Beach Militia.

In the 16-team Squirt division, the Cayman 12-U team was up next, facing off against the San Diego Rockets in the first game of their round-robin, winning 4-3. They lost their second qualifying game against local Huntington Beach team, Notion, 6-3. The next day, the 12-U team completed their round-robin, defeating the Militia White team, also from Huntington Beach, 5-0. The team advanced to the Gold semifinal on April 30 against the Bulldogs from southern California. “The Cayman team scored first, and the teams exchanged goals 1 for 1 in a very exciting game, with the Bulldogs scoring a tying goal with 11 seconds left on the clock to push the game into sudden-death overtime. The Bulldogs were the first to score in overtime and Cayman fell short of a medal,” the press release states.

Cayman’s 8-U team played the top-seeded Pama Blue Cyclones in the Atom Division on April 28. Cayman was down 3-0 and retaliated with Jaxon Cover shooting 1-2-3-4 into the net to take a 4-3 lead going into the second half. Teams exchanged goals landing in a 7-7 tie with 30 seconds to go. Jaxon put two more in the net in the last 30 sec to win 9-7. The next day, the 8-U team went on to win qualifying games against the Mission Renegades and the Labeda Jets, earning a spot in the Gold Division semifinals on April 30. Cayman defeated the Bulldogs in the semi, advancing to the Gold final, where they faced the Pama Blue Cyclones again. Cayman played strongly, but were unable to hold off the Cyclones, taking the silver medal. Jaxon Cover also earned an individual award for high scorer in the 8U Division.

Cayman’s 8-U team earned silver in the Gold Division.

NARCh organizers reported that the Irvine regional qualifier was the largest-ever regional tournament. Cayman coach Dennis Passchier said he was very pleased with the results.

“Roller Hockey is very competitive on the West Coast, and we wanted to raise the bar for these Cayman teams who perform consistently well on the East Coast. We knew it was going to be tough going in, but these kids rose to the challenge, exceeding our expectations,” he said. “It was a huge accomplishment to come away with two Gold Division finishes and two silver medals. There’s more work to be done on the rink to prepare for the next qualifier in Atlanta in mid-May and the NARCh finals in Toronto in July, but confidence is high and we are looking forward to topping last year’s results at the finals.”

The local roller hockey league season wraps up this month at Kings Sports Center with semifinals on Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, and finals on May 12 and 13, before the teams travel to the Atlanta Regional Qualifier on May 18.

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