No ice, but plenty of fun at street hockey championship at Verizon Wireless Arena
Bragging rights in the town of Bedford were on the line and Nate John delivered.
John fired a wrist shot past Alec Lindberg's blocker to give the Bedford Bulldogs a shootout win over fellow Bedford team the Flint Tropics to claim the 13-16 year-old division street hockey championship at the fourth annual Manchester Monarchs Summer Fan Fest at Verizon Wireless Arena Saturday.
All told, 19 teams (with eight to 12 players per team) in three age brackets competed on Elm Street. The University of Puck Hogs knocked off the Tewksbury Redmen in the 10-12 year-old championship and the Sin Binners beat Thunder One in the 6-9 age group title game.
The Battle of Bedford took the prize for drama, however, as both the Bulldogs and Flint Tropics were comprised of friends from Bedford High School.
"We all play together. We go and play street hockey at Memorial School," said John, who plays on the junior varsity ice hockey team at Bedford. "It's pretty fun and competitive."
The shootout went six rounds before John was able to net the only goal of the extra session. Bulldogs goalie Chase Poirier stopped all six shots he faced and John ended it with his wrister.
"I was looking to try and dangle him but then I saw his left side corner so I shot it," John said. "I snizzed it right up top."
The Bedford contingent regularly plays street hockey together.
"It's been really fun. All the time, we get together and go down to the basketball court and kick the basketball players out and play street hockey all day," Lindberg said. "That's our summer."
It's the same story for the Dover Starz, who also competed in the 13-16 bracket, placing third.
"We just kind of mess around and play," said Starz player Zack Campbell, who plays for the Somersworth High ice hockey team. "We play a lot at friends' houses. We just kind of came in (to the tournament) to see what happens."
With nearly 20 teams involved and four mini-rinks blocked off on Elm Street it was the largest turnout yet for the event.
The Fan Fest also included sales at the Monarchs pro shop, autographs from former Monarchs Derek Bekar and Richard Seeley and current Monarch Ian O'Connor (of Londonderry) and events for the younger kids such as face painting and a bounce house.
And of course, bragging rights that will last right into the new school year in Bedford.
"Oh, yeah, definitely," John said. "Especially every time we go and play now."