The Penn Hills Arsenal started off the 2016-17 Tournament Season North of the border as always, in Barrie, Ont for the 20th Annual World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships hosted by BallHockey.com.
The short story of the Gunner’s Weekend, is they played great, but not great every period, and it cut their weekend short. Arsenal had depth in the scoring department all weekend, getting goals from all three lines, as well as from the defense, which helped them go 2-2 on the weekend against some of Canada’s best.
Coach George Tarantino reflected on the tournament by stating, “The World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships in Barrie is so unique in its setup. The small number of very high level teams, crammed into one division, make a playoff berth alone hard. It also means your margin for error is small. Our team played very well in long stretches, but the shifts and periods we lost eventually caught up to us. It is on me to make sure we get those bad stretches cleaned up, so we can play championship caliber hockey for an entire weekend. ”
In their 1st game against #7 Richmond Hill Falcons, Arsenal took the lead early in the 2nd off a goal from Drew Albright, who was on loan from the Pittsburgh Gods. Arsenal would earn a 3-1 victory, and got two more goals from Vinnie Tumminello and Warren Morgano. Arsenal’s 2nd game was against familiar foe, the hometown #18 Barrie Flyers. The Gunners were 0-3 all time against the Flyers heading into the game, however were able to put together a great 30 minutes up in Barrie. Goaltender Joe Sheehan continued to be great, especially against the Flyers, and kept them at bay after the Flyers took an early 1-0 lead. Marky Bergamasco would get Arsenal on the board in the 1st period, followed by another quick 2 goals by Billy Sullivan to give Arsenal a 3-1 lead after one. Barrie had a good 2nd period and tightened the score to 3-2 heading into the 3rd. Sullivan would complete the Hat-trick half way through the 3rd, and Bergamasco would ice it with his 2nd on an empty netter. The next game Arsenal played #3 Niagara War Pigs, who would go on to be Tournament Champions. Play was even through the 1st two periods, however the Gunners held a 1-0 lead heading into the 3rd off a rebound goal by Sullivan. The 3rd period Arsenal got caught in a tailspin they could not get out of, and the War Pigs pounced and recorded 5 goals in 5 minutes to earn the 5-1 victory.
With only three games left in Round Robin play, Arsenal was in 2nd place and needed a win or tie from one of three teams playing in the three different games to move on to the semi finals. If one of the teams (War Pigs, Hitmen, or Arsenal) won or tied their last game on Sunday, Arsenal would of clinched a Semi Final birth. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Hitmen handled the Falcons, the Rebels upset the War Pigs, and the Leafs defeated Arsenal with a great 3rd period in their game. Arsenal had a miserable 1st period getting outscored 3-1, the lone goal was scored by Shawn O’Connor. The 2nd period turned the game around, with Warren Morgano and Ryan Crossey each scoring to tie the game heading into the 3rd. Arsenal started the 3rd on a power play but the Leafs kept them off the scoreboard. Shortly their after Arsenal was given a 2 minute holding penalty. Arsenal would kill it off but the Arsenal player jumped out of the box 3 seconds too early, and after a long discussion at the next whistle, the officials handed Arsenal another penalty and gave the Leafs a 2nd power play opportunity. The Gunners penalty kill was 11 for 11 heading into that pk, but the Leafs top unit was able to sneak one past Sheehan and go on to victory in a very good game.
Arsenal’s best player was Team USA Goaltender Hopeful Joe Sheehan who was stellar from start to finish on the weekend. The line of Crossey – Sullivan – Morgano led the way upfront accumulating 16 points between the 3 of them in the 4 games played. O’Connor – Tumminello – Matt Kiesel put together a nice weekend of 8 points, and Brown/Brenner – Bergamasco – Sweeney pitched in 5 points in the tournament as well.
Arsenal will look to build off an impressive performance in Barrie, in 5 weeks and look to earn a 2nd straight Can Ams Tournament Championship in Leominster in early November.
Special thanks to Bill Sullivan and George Tarantino for their contribution to this article.
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