Prescott IHAAZ festival ‘always a favorite for the kids’
Rain threatened to put a damper on the IHAAZ festival in Prescott March 15-17 at Pioneer Park.
But the rain ended up staying away and the festival played out under perfect weather conditions at the picturesque park in Prescott.
Pioneer Park is one of the better venues for roller hockey and an ideal location for the latest festival.
“Pioneer Park is one of the premier outdoor facilities in the country, with a beautiful park setting and state-of-the-art play area for the kids to enjoy between games,” said Nick Boyarsky, the IHAAZ tournament director. “It’s always a favorite for kids.”
The action on the rink wasn’t too bad either, with several exciting matchups playing out during the festival.
That includes in the midget division, which saw the AZ Royals White battle through a bit of adversity. Because the state playdowns for ice hockey are in full swing, the first-place AZ Royals were down several players for the festival. They suffered their first loss, falling to the Northern Arizona Yeti, the second-place team in the division.
The Royals had just two of their normal skaters and a goalie. They ended up calling up three players from the 14U Royals team. They ended up going 3-1 at the festival. The Yeti went 4-0 over the weekend.
At the 14U level, the Prescott Storm took advantage of playing at home and picked up wins over the Knighthawks and the AZ Jr. Wildcats. The Storm topped the Knighthawks 6-3 and stunned the Jr. Wildcats 7-4.
There was also a potential preview of the state championship game as the Yuma Blaze and AZ Royals, the top two teams in the age group, battled for the first time this season. The Royals prevailed 7-5. The loss was the second of the year for the Blaze.
Justin Vandenberg had an impressive showing at the festival in the 14U division, scoring 34 goals in four games.
In the 10U division, the Prescott Storm remained unbeaten as it rolled through another festival.
The Storm has just one player in the top five in the division in scoring, and that’s Elijah Simpson, which meant the Storm relies on a balanced attacked to have success. Goalie Maddox Marshall has been instrumental to the team’s success as well. He owns a 2.00 goals-against average on the year. It’s an average that is almost unheard of in roller hockey.
The seven-team 12U division has proven to be a challenge for Prescott, which is still searching for its first win of the year. The Storm made strides, however, over the weekend, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, and battled the Renegades tough in a 6-4 loss. the mercy rule and battled the Renegades tough, falling by just two goals in a 6-4 loss. The Yuma Blaze remains the top team in the 12U division and rolled through another festival.
In the 8U division, the Prescott Lucky Charms, an appropriate nickname considering it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, got a taste of IHAAZ hockey and held their own at the festival. The highlight for them over the weekend was playing Yuma tough as the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie.
Boyarsky was pleased with how things played out over the weekend and believes the competition will continue to heat up as the season inches a little closer to the state finals in May.
The last festival on the schedule took place March 29-31 in Peoria.
Fans that attended the festival were treated to some matchups they could see again in the state finals.
“We saw some great state finals matchups and also saw some rivalries start to form,” Boyarsky said. “With only festival left, teams are starting to figure each other out a bit more, which should lead to some great games at Barney’s in May for the state finals.”
— Brian Lester
(April 5, 2019)