Updated: Feb 20
By Sam DeLeon
After another loss on the weekend, to the Tito’s Vodka team on day 2 of the “Serie De Desafiadores”, the Puerto Rican men’s national team, rematch against the Goodwin Bulls Alumni, in the final game of the three game series.
Much like the first game of the series, the Goodwin Bulls alumni came out the gate roaring, they were getting off lots of shots, set up for rebound opportunities, defending well and forchecking with minimal mistakes. Like we saw in the first game, the Puerto Rican national team came out looking a little sluggish and when playing a very established team like the Goodwin Bulls Alumni, that is not an ideal start to your game.
The Goodwin Bulls Alumni scored two goals early in the period to go up 2-0 against the men’s national team. Although they let up 2 goals early on, after being scored on twice, the Puerto Rican men’s national team got their legs going. Puerto Rico started moving the puck very well, their breakouts were much better, they were playing a much better defensive game and what always translates to good hockey is a great team game.
Two players really started to start the drive in the fist and they were two of the best centermen on the team. Captain Scott Vargas and Dennis Ruppe really led the drive for this team. Scott Vargas was driving the offense very well, while Dennis Ruppe was leading the transition game to rejuvenate the offense on this gold medal squad.
To start the second, the Puerto Rican national team kept up their pace. At 15:59 in the second, the Goodwin Bulls Alumni would capitalize on a turnover by the Puerto Rican national team and score. There is no other way to describe this goal than a snipe, this was a goal some of the best goalies wouldn’t have been able to stop, a perfectly placed shot off of an unfortunate turnover.
After the Goodwin Bulls Alumni went up 3-0, the Puerto Rican men’s national would capitalize on a turnover and come down to score a goal at 14:18 of the period. Kyle Vargas, brother of captain Scott Vargas, would score off a rebound from a shot from U20 gold medal champion Noah Rosado, who received the pass from fellow U20 teammate Hunter Checchia. Shortly after this the Goodwin Bulls Alumni would come down and score at 12:50 of the period.
Being down 4-1 the Puerto Rican men's national team would not give up showing their relentless attitude that has surrounded PRIHA since day 1. The men’s national team would lay a huge punishing hit in their own zone and regain control of the puck. After a breakout from their zone, Scott Vargas would be the one with the puck on his stick entering the zone coming down on a two-on-one. Vargas would dish to puck to #10 Newman and Newman would find the back of the net on a breakaway feed from Vargas at 9:34 of the second, making the score 4-2. Seconds after scoring their second goal, at 9:04 in the second the Bulls Alumni would score a goal to make the lead 5-2. After this devastating goal, it would seem as if the Puerto Rican men’s national team would have lost all momentum. Matching roughing minor penalties were handed to both teams at 5:55 of the second, The Bulls Alumni would score a 4 on 4 goal at 5:19 of the second to make the score 6-2. After letting in his 6th of the game the Puerto Rican team would pull Michael Nabozny and replace him with Onyx Hill.
Coming out the gates into the third period the men’s national team would look better than how they ended the third but still a bit more defeated than we are used to seeing. The Bulls Alumni would take advantage of this and score a quick one to start the period at 15:39 in the second.
Now being up 7-2 the Goodwin Bulls Alumni would play a much more conservative style of hockey, with a much heavier passing game. At 12:01 in the third the men’s national team would take another penalty and would really kill all momentum they had. Already tired, on this powerplay the Bulls Alumni would move the puck around the whole time trying to get a one timer shot off but with how the men’s national team was penalty killing the were not able to get one shot off the whole power play
The rest of the period went fairly well for the Puerto Rican team, they were competing with the Bulls Alumni but unforced missed passes, sloppy breakouts and a deflated team all led to the eventual demise of this men’s national team. In the last five minutes of the game the men’s team really played well, applying a lot of pressure and getting good shots off but just could not capitalize on anything. The final score of the game would be 7-2 Goodwin Bulls Alumni
End of the weekend takeaways
Although not how the Puerto Rican men’s national team wanted it to go, this weekend helped grow the game of hockey in the under-served Puerto Rican and minority community, and when you look at it from that perspective there will always be wins to take away from the games. With events in Chicago in April and New York City in June, there is plenty for PRIHA and all parties involved to take away from this weekend. All in all this was a great weekend for PRIHA and everyone looks forward to what is in store next for the future of hockey amongst Puerto Rican’s.