• Evenly matched teams need overtimes, shootouts to determine international bragging rights
By Sean Pearson
Having not watched an actual broomball competition for several years, I was more than a little skeptical about just how much action I would really see at this weekend’s Broomball Tournament at Kevin Bell Arena.
The last time I watched a broomball game for any significant amount of time was January, 2007. It was the first year Homer ice enthusiasts were introduced to the sport, and competition was usually between a rather rag-tag crew of fledgling, first-time players sliding around the ice and trying to not fall. Hockey goals were used in place of regulation broomball goals, nobody wore fancy broomball shoes, and no one felt confident enough to try out any organized offense or tricky pass plays.
Times have changed.
Of course, expectations for the weekend were pretty lofty, as this was the international competition, and teams had traveled from as far away as Bethel and Whitehorse to challenge Homer broomers on their home ice. Locals LindiAnne Sarno, Bumppo Bremicker, Sunrise Sjoeberg and Susan Butler learned the Canadian National Anthem for the opening ceremonies, which went a long way in helping the Canucks feel right at home. The teams definitely looked pretty snazzy in their matching uniforms and colorful helmets. And who knew broomball shoes could be so fashionable?
Still, nothing could have prepared me for such fierce competition and non-stop action on the ice.
Homer broomball commissioner and tournament organizer Liz Villareal said the impassioned competition was thanks to some well-matched teams.
“Turns out, we were so well-matched, we had four games go into overtime,” Villareal said. “I never would have guessed we would be (so well-matched) with the Canucks, to be honest.”
After all, everyone knows you can’t often beat a Canadian on ice.
“This was, by far, the best tournament we have ever had,” said participant Ryjil Christianson. “All five teams were so closely matched, it made for some relatively grueling overtime games.”
Christianson added that she had never played so much broomball in one tournament.
In the end, Capital Towing from Whitehorse took first place, Homer’s own Beluga Lake Bombers took second and the Bethel Fighting Pike were third.
“The tournament was awesome,” said Alice’s Champagne Palace team member Catriona Lowe. “The team from Whitehorse drove 20 hours non-stop to get here. And, even though it was their first time here, many of us were already friends with them from tournaments in Whitehorse and Haines Junction that Homer teams have traveled to since 2009.”
Lowe said Bethel, who has sent a team for three years now, was able to muster two teams this year.
“We had a blast playing,” said Jennifer Norton, who also played for Alice’s Scoundrels. “Our guests fit in very well with Homer Broomball, and the opening round-robin games gave us a chance to size each other up.”
Norton said all the teams got to know each other even better on Friday night over beers at the Down East Saloon and dancing to the Holy Santos Gang.
Lowe said the game schedule on Friday was organized so that Beluga Lake Lodger Rudy Multz could dash from the ice to the Down East Saloon to set up for the Holy Santos Gang mid-tourney party.
Saturday morning competition heated up with some very close games, despite broomers’ legs being still tired from the night of dancing.
The solution? More dancing.
“The Easter Bunny visited at lunch time (dressed in full Stormtrooper gear) and we lightened the mood with a Harlem Shake dance off,” Norton said. “By tournament time, we had a pretty good idea that it was anybody’s tournament.”
The Harlem Shake broomball video, filmed by Tehben Dean and available on Youtube and via a link on the Homer Broomball Facebook page, lived up to its hype. Some 45 people took to the ice in a variety of costumes to ”bust a move” for broomball.
“The flash mob on Saturday was goofy fun,” said Christianson. “But, for me, the highlight was sharing a locker room with the Whitehorse team. We had a lot of fun hanging out between games, so when we were going head to head in the championship game, the atmosphere was one of friendly competition.”
At tournament’s end, awards were also given out for the Homer League season, which wrapped up last week.
Norton said the tournament’s success owes everything to organizers Liz Villarreal an Josiah Campbell, her right hand (but left-handed) man.
Curt Jackson, (CJDJ7), not only played in all the ACP Scoundrels games, he also provided play-by-play commentary for every single other game. (Complete with learning the names of all the visiting players.
Villareal said the tournament was a little heartbreaking for her team, as they entered bracket play as the No. 1 seed, and round up being eliminated by a shoot-out.
“We weren’t the only ones who went out that way,” Villareal said. “And we did so with friends.”
Rookie of the Year: Jason Herreman
Most-Improved: Lucas Thoning
Best Goalies: Jessica Marx, Chris Gordon
Best Defenders: Seanna Gunn, Jesse Classen
Season MVPs: Jennifer Bando, Josiah Campbell
Tourney MVPs: Bomber goalie Chris Gordon, Whitehorse goalie Margo Millette
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