World Inline Hockey Championships: Bronze Medal

Bucamaranga LogoAlex DeYoung is a goaltender representing the United States with the Team USA Junior Men’s Inline Hockey Team in the 2012 Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) World Championships in Bucaramanga, Colombia from June 30 to July 14. Alex is a high school student in Northern Virginia, and the only member of the 16-player team from Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area. This is his final post.

We ended up losing our last round robin game 4-1 to last year’s bronze medal team, France. W e came out as the 4th seed in the tournament, and ended up playing the 5th seed team, Switzerland.  Our team has always had a very good relationship with the Swiss team, so we didn’t want to play against them in the playoffs.  The game ended 9-0 USA, and we took team photos on the rink with Switzerland.  The Swiss players all congratulated us after our win and showed up the next day to cheer us on against the Czechs. In the other side of the bracket, France beat Mexico, and Colombia beat Australia.

The one game that the crowd was with us was the rematch of last year’s Gold Medal game against the Czechs. The Czechs hadn’t lost a game at Worlds in the previous three years, and our whole attitude and preparation was focused around beating them.  The loser would go to the bronze medal game and play against the loser of France vs. Colombia. We scored the first goal one minute into the game, but the Czechs were able to respond to our early lead with 5 goals.

We went into the second half hoping for a miracle, but we didn’t get one. The game ended 6-3.  Everyone was quiet that night, but Carl Weedman said something to me that turned my anger and disappointment into motivation.  What he told me was “It’s up to you now.”
Colombia ended up crushing France, and we now had to play the team that beat us earlier in the tournament.  We knew the arena would be crowded because Colombia was playing in the championship right after us, but nothing surprised us more than a completely packed arena.

We dropped an early 4-1 lead to France 10 minutes into the game, and right when it seemed like our team was about to break down, something weird happened.  A French player made an illegal hit one of our players, and we received the penalty for it.  Coach Gerry Lullove stood up for our player, and ended up being thrown out of the game by the Italian referee.  Coach Gerry immediately made his way to behind our bench in the arena, and was able to coach us from there.  Maybe seeing Coach Gerry leaving the rink brought our heads back into the game, or maybe we just got lucky, but we ended up scoring 3 goals to tie the game at the end of the first half.

We took a 6-4 lead early in the period, but after quite a few penalties we found ourselves tied with France with all zeros on the clock. In the first overtime we had to kill a penalty, and then found ourselves on a power play. The French took a shot that hit two posts and just barely stayed out of the net. During the second overtime, we took a shot and hit the goalie’s pads, and then Jordan Nixdorf came from behind the net and roofed the rebound over the netminder. The puck leaving Jordan’s stick and crossing the goal line earned us a medal. Our whole team immediately cleared the bench and celebrated.

Later that night our USA Women’s team fell short to Canada in a tough gold medal game. The Czech Republic also beat Colombia in the championship.

USA Junior Men’s team celebrates with the USA Women’s team after the victory