Balanced attack leads Outcasts to summer Jr. Olympics crown
Many times, team chemistry is a major contributor to championship-contending teams and can be the difference between first and second place.
The Outcasts 23U inline team traveled to The Rinks in Corona, Calif., back on July 9-19 for the Amateur Athletic Union-USA Roller Sports Jr. Olympics and returned home with the top prize – first-place gold medals as tournament champions.
“It seemed like everyone contributed equally throughout the tournament and we got better with every game,” said Outcasts team captain Tommy Tuohy. “Our roster also had a really good balance of offensive firepower and lock-down defense, which helps in a tournament setting like this.”
On the first day, the Outcasts came out with convincing wins over the California Chaos and Edmonton Ducks by a combined score of 13-4. The next day proved to be a little closer, with two games and close wins against two solid teams in the LA Pama Cyclones and Revision Vanquish.
After round robin play, the tournament was split into Tier I and Tier II. After finishing round robin 4-0 and having the tournament’s lowest goals against, the Outcasts claimed the top seed in Tier I and played the lowest-seeded Skittles in the Tier I semi-finals and held on to grab the victory, despite a late surge by the Skittles.
In the Tier I final, the Outcasts skated against last year’s Jr. Olympics champion, the Tron Hosers from San Diego, who had just beaten the Revision Vanquish in the other semi-final. Facing adversity, the Outcasts proved to be up for the task, winning 10-4 to secure the Jr. Olympics title and end the season on a high note.
Tuohy said winning the Jr. Olympics was something he knew was possible with the roster assembled.
“The team was made up of a lot of core Outcasts players who have been playing roller hockey together for a long time,” explained Tuohy. “Playing together for so long allows everyone to know each other’s tendencies and habits. Everyone is also really good friends outside of the rink as well, so that definitely contributes to the good overall chemistry of the team. Everyone is always really excited to see one another at the rink and catch up at the tournaments.”
Tuohy added that literally getting to the event was a chore in and of itself, but “at the end of the day, it was worth it.” He also said that another veteran of the team, Paul Linder, helped coordinate the team with him.
“The tournament was also a little different from most in that we didn’t have the sponsor support that we usually have and everyone had to pay their own way,” Tuohy said. “We went to the tournament with no coach and a win-by-committee style and mentality. Everyone just wanted to play more roller hockey with one another, so the team came together seamlessly.
“Overall, it was a great time and I was really glad that we got the opportunity to get everyone together for one more tournament. It’s always a blast playing with the boys.
While the Outcasts’ sights are usually set on having the season culminate with the NARCh Finals, this year was different with NARCh having the finals before the Jr. Olympics.
“After most of us took home the NARCh Division I (24U) title in Huntington Beach, Calif., in June and with AAU being in Corona the next month after having recently expanded the junior division to 23U, we decided that we had not had enough roller hockey for the summer yet,” said Tuohy.
Next up for the Outcasts is partaking in the NARCh Winternationals Pro Division in January in San Jose, Calif.
“That will definitely be another challenge for us, but one I know we’ll be ready for,” Tuohy said.
— Matt Mackinder