March IHAAZ events proving to add to competition with State Finals looming
With so many teams looking to compete in the 2023 IHAAZ season, the association split its March and April events into two weekend combo events each month.
In March, the season continued over the March 10-12 weekend in Peoria for the fourth tournament of the season and then March 12-19 in Queen Creek at the Barney Family Sports Complex for tournament No. 5.
Five champions were crowned at the Barney Family Sports Complex as the AZ Outlaws Maroon won at 8U, Arizona Jr. Wildcats won 10U, Tour YVU Blue at 12U, TPH Knighthawks Green at 14U Gold and the Serial Grillers brought home the 18U Gold title.
“We’re at the point in our season where the majority of our teams are able to participate for the most part now,” IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky said. “With those team counts, we were able to have a true split between our two skill levels (Gold and Silver) in the 14U and 18U divisions. This gives those teams a more level playing field, which equates to a lot more fun and competition. Having the Tour YVU teams from Colorado, and Hawaii in a few divisions, created some new matchups and excitement in the younger age groups as well. With coaches Jami and CJ Yoder at the helm, we knew we’d get some great competition in the Tour YVU teams.
“Specific to the 14U Gold final, the round robin games between both TPH Knighthawks Green and Blue and Black Magic were some of the best games of the season so far, but the championship game between the Knighthawks Green and Black Magic was one to remember. Going to OT just seemed fitting for how both teams were fighting to win.”
The Outlaws took an 8-3 win over Tour YVU in the title game as Kasen Pusateri collected four goals and two assists.
Wyatt Frankenfield and Kellen Pusateri posted two goals apiece, and Elias Beard picked up the win in goal.
For Tour YVU, Leathan Pahnke had a goal and an assist, Finley Yoder and Azrael Weiss scored, and Nolan Rodriguez made 12 saves between the pipes.
In the round robin, Kasen Pusateri had 13 goals and six assists for 19 points. Beard secured four wins and tied with Rodriguez with a 1.00 goals-against average. Rodriguez pitched two shutouts and finished with a .902 save percentage.
Connor Hillegonds went off for four goals and assist in the title game as the the Jr. Wildcats downed the Outlaws 8-5.
Ben Van Houten and Gia Alvarez each collected two goals and an assist and Ryland Scott shined in net with 16 saves.
Kasen Pusateri scored twice and added two helpers for the Outlaws, while Drake Madia, Crosby Thomas and Easton Marquardt all netted one goal each. Theo Brooks stopped 21 shots in goal.
During the round robin, Van Houten led the way with 11 goals and 13 points, while Mason Hillegonds chipped in five assists. In goal, Scott had four wins and a 3.25 GAA, while the TPH Knighthawks’ Owen Lukas posted a .719 save percentage. Rodriguez, Lukas and Scott each registered a shutout.
The championship was a battle of Tour YVU teams as Tour YVU Blue knocked off Tour YVU Grey 6-1.
Matthew Bliven scored two goals and added two assists in the win, Tayvn Yoder had two goals with a helper, and Bishop Weiss went for a goal and two assists. Zeph Saguibo also scored to help back Noah Sieberlich‘s 13 saves in goal.
For Tour YVU Grey, Leo Varrone scored, and Jacob Nowak turned aside eight shots in the crease.
In round robin action, Bishop Weiss had 10 goals, Alvarez seven assists, and Tavyn Yoder 12 points. Between the pipes, Sieberlich had three wins (tied with Nowak), a 1.00 GAA, .850 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.
Joey Lepore‘s third goal of the game won it in overtime for the Knighthawks, 6-5, after the Black Magic’s Ashton Sherstobitoff tied the game 5-all with 1:28 left in the second period.
Lepore also had an assist for a four-point game, Brayden Willis scored twice, Landon Jans had a goal plus a helper, and Jaden Perea notched two assists. In goal, Maddox Marshal made 18 stops.
The Black Magic were led by Braden Hordichuk‘s three-goal, one-assist outing, Sherstobitoff had a goal and an assist and Dylan Mickelson also scored. Dylan Hansen and Everett Payie combined on a 13-save effort in goal.
During the round robin, Willis had 11 goals and 15 points and Sherstobitoff rang up five assists. Goalie-wise, Payie had an 0.50 GAA, a .917 save percentage and one shutout, along with Hansen and Lennon Mikan from the TPH Knighthawks Blue team. Marshal collected three wins.
18U Gold (pictured top)
Carson Kamin and Eli Shulman each scored twice to pace the Grillers past the Peoria Desert Scorpions 5-3.
Dominik Barber also scored, and Nathan Graybill kicked out 13 shots between the pipes.
For the Desert Scorpions, Ethan Niles, Sheldon Wilson and Luke Parker tallied goals and in net, Aiden Biswanger finished with 19 saves.
In the round robin, Kamin and Shulman notched six goals, while Shulman had six assists and 12 points. Biswanger and Graybill each had three wins and a shutout, while Biswanger added a 1.26 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
The previous weekend, March 10-12, three champions were crowned at the Peoria Sportsplex as the Jr. Wildcats took the 10U championship, Arizona Imperials won at 14U Silver, and the Outlaws captured the 18U Silver title.
“Having the divisional split into Silver-specific divisions for 14U and 18U really improved the parity of play, with every team being in the hunt for a medal,” said Boyarsky. “In 10U, we’re really starting to see the Knighthawks find ways to chip away at the dominant Jr. Wildcats team. I’d bet by State Finals that these two teams will be in a tight dogfight for that state championship title.”
Connor Hillegonds scored four goals with an assist to lead the Jr. Wildcats past the TPH Knighthawks 7-3.
Van Houten added two goals and two assists and Connor Martell scored to back Scott’s 10 saves in goal.
For the Knighthawks, Carter Hardison had two goals and an assist, Dominic Payne tallied once, and Lukas stopped 14 shots between the pipes.
In the round robin, Alvarez had six assists and 15 points and Marquardt popped 11 goals. Scott and Lukas each posted two shutouts, while Scott also compiled four wins, a 0.75 GAA and a .897 save percentage.
Reagan Rivera pitched a nine-save shutout and Corbin Hubert had a goal and three assists to lead the Imperials past the AZ Roughriders 7-0.
Trevin Vargo scored three times, AJ Brandt added a goal and an assist, and Camden Eyer and Moses Brown scored one each.
Jonovan Wachter made 15 saves in net for the Roughriders.
During round robin action, the Juicers’ Tripp Neujahr had six goals, Hubert had five assists and was tied with the Imperials’ Dean Mindeman with seven points. Rivera earned three wins, had a 1.69 GAA and a .848 save percentage, while Wachter, the Juicers’ Mason Smith and the Jr. Wildcats’ London Simpson all pitched a shutout.
Zayne Maragh scored seven times to lift the Outlaws over the Cereal Killers 9-3.
Ryan Nicholas added a goal and two assists and Mason Knaffla chipped in a goal as goaltender Keegan Tinsdale made nine saves.
For the Killers, Austin McPherson had a goal and an assist, Caden Shafer and Nick Wolf scored, and Connor Blondel stopped 10 shots between the pipes.
Round robin play saw Daniel Madia of the Outlaws score nine goals with five assists for 14 points. The AZ Konnix Desert Swarm’s Jonathan Pool had three wins, along with Blondel and Tinsdale, and added a 1.50 GAA and a .872 save percentage to go along with one shutout. The Roughriders’ Gavin Lopo also pitched a shutout.
The next IHAAZ event is scheduled for April 14-16 back at the Barney Family Sports Complex with another one the following weekend, April 21-23, at the Peoria Sportsplex.
“We’ve got another two packed weekends in April with even more new teams jumping in to attempt to qualify for State Finals,” Boyarsky said. “It’s possible some divisions sell out due to available floor time. Any new teams considering jumping in should do so before the entry deadline to make sure they get in.”
For more information, visit www.IHAAZ.com.
— Matt Mackinder
(March 27, 2023)