Exciting IHAAZ season concludes with State Finals event
Another successful IHAAZ season ended last month with State Finals at the Barney Family Sports Complex.
The tournament took place May 3-5 and there was plenty of excitement, both during the games and in the skills competition.
Perhaps the most closely contested division of the tournament was 14U, where it took an overtime win by the Yuma Blaze to bring home the title. Yuma battled the AZ Royals for the championship and came away with a 4-3 win, but it didn’t come easy. Yuma trailed 3-0 out of the gate but managed to force overtime on a goal by Cole Gebhart, who also scored the game-winner in OT to lift Yuma to the championship.
Brody Hernandez scored twice for the Royals.
IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky said a lot of the games in the age division could have gone either way.
The Blaze also won the 12U title, dominating the Wildcats in a 6-1 win. Gebhart once again paved the way for Yuma, punching in three goals. Brady Ishu scored the lone goal for the Wildcats.
The Blaze completed a perfect run through the tournament behind a balanced attack.
In the Midget division, the AZ Royals White team cruised to a 6-0 win over the Yuma Blaze. Skylar Sanchez led the way with a pair of goals for a team that thrived off great teamwork.
The Wildcats came home as champions in the 8U division, rolling to a 10-4 win over the Royals in one of the division’s most competitive games of the season between those two teams. Gavin Molina led the way with four goals. Kylar Tinsdale scored two goals for the Royals.
In the 10U division, the Prescott Storm (pictured) notched a 9-5 victory over Knighthawks Blue, who were playing shorthanded because of ice hockey tryouts. Prescott trailed 3-0 early but came roaring back to take the title. Jayden Perea finished with four goals to pace the Storm. Cade McGrath scored twice for Knighthawks Blue. Earlier in the tournament, though, Knighthawks Blue handed Prescott its first loss of the year.
The various skills competitions also proved to be entertaining over the weekend and Boyarsky said it was one of the best he’s seen in quite some time.
“The skills competitions were some of the most competitive in years,” Boyarsky said. “The fastest skater championships (in multiple age groups) came down to video in slow motion to determine who crossed the line first. We saw some amazing moves by the skaters and spectacular saves by the goalies. It’s definitely one of the most exciting competitions we’ve had at the state finals.”
Several awards were also given out at the State Finals, including the Micah Lieb and Levi Wallace awards in each age division. The Micah Lieb Award goes to the top goalie at the State Finals and the Levi Wallace Award is given to the top scorer in each age division at the finals. Both awards are in honor of two IHAAZ players who passed away in recent years.
Micah Lieb winners were Cody Richardson (8U), Maddox Marshall (10U), Jonathan Pool (12U), Blaise Becker (14U) and Nathan tePas (Midget).
Richardson sported a 1.67 goals-against average and won three games. Marshall had a 1.71 GAA and notched six wins at state finals. Pool’s GAA was 1.20 and he came away with five wins.
Becker had a 2.16 GAA and won four games. tePas came through with a GAA under one (0.75) and won eight games.
Levi Wallace winners in each division were Molina (8U), Brayden Willis (10U), Eli Shulman (12U), Trace Day (14U) and Nic Coppola (Midget).
Molina finished with 16 points, including 12 goals, and Willis racked up 20 points, including 15 goals. Shulman came through with 21 points, with 10 goals, and Day tallied 16 points, including 12 goals. Coppola scored eight goals and finished with 14 points overall.
— Brian Lester
(June 11, 2019)