A good big team, the Green Devils, was matched against a good small one, the Kings, in the 11-and-up roller hockey championship game at the Sportime Arena in Amagansett Sunday.
And, in the end, though it took 44 minutes of regulation and 2:40 of overtime to do it, the Devils, thanks to Matt Kreymborg’s fourth goal of the day, prevailed 7-6.
Though they gave up six inches or so in height to the three Kreymborg brothers, the brothers Nicholson, Robby and Brett, who play on travel teams as well, gave the Devils — and their goalie, Khloe Goncalves, about whom more later — all they could handle.
A goal by the Kings’ Will Steinbrecher treated them to a 6-4 lead with about eight minutes left to play in the second (and final) 22-minute period.
That deficit prompted Matt Kreymborg to go on a tear, and, within 36 seconds, thanks in part to the fact that the Kings — as had been the case all morning — had trouble getting back on defense, the game was tied at 6-6.
Kreymborg continued to threaten after he’d tied the score, though the Kings’ tall goalie, Brady McCormick of Manorville, blocked his shots.
During a timeout with 2:13 to go, Bob Nicholson, Robby and Brett’s father, told his charges, “No excuses — let’s go out and win it. You gotta get back on defense.”
But Matt Kreymborg kept up the pressure. McCormick made a nice save of a shot he took with 1:01 to go, and an even better one when, with 45.7 seconds left in regulation, Kreymborg was awarded a penalty one-on-one after Brett Nicholson, with McCormick spread-eagled, had smothered the puck in the Kings’ crease.
McCormick was to repel yet another Kreymborg shot before Brett Nicholson stole the puck in the defensive zone in the final seconds, and, with Kings fans cheering him on, broke in on Goncalves, who, refusing to take the bait of a fake in close, proved up to the challenge.
That brought on the aforementioned sudden-death 22-minute overtime period, and Matt Kreymborg’s game-winning one-on-one goal 2 minutes and 40 seconds into it.
For the Kings Will Steinbrecher had 3 goals, Robby Nicholson had 1 goal and 2 assists, and Brett Nicholson had 2 goals and 1 assist. McCormick had 35 saves.
For the Devils Matt Kreymborg had 4 goals and 1 assist, Tim Kreymborg had 3 goals, and James McGuire had 2 assists. Goncalves, an East Hampton High School ninth grader who was celebrating her 15th birthday that day, had 37 saves.
During a conversation afterward, Goncalves said a friend, Jackson Rafferty, had suggested she might like roller hockey about five years ago, “and now,” she said, “I play more than him — three times a week at Rapid Fire in Center Moriches and once or twice a week here. I usually play in the men’s pickup games on Sunday mornings.”
She’s played goalie for only a year, Goncalves said in answer to a question. “Larry Lillie gave me a lesson, and I’ve gotten some pointers from my dad [Candido Goncalves] and UpIsland. . . . Otherwise, I’m pretty much self-taught.”
Asked if she played any sports at the high school, Goncalves, who travels far afield to tournaments with Rapid Fire’s Black Ice all-star team, said, “No, this is really it. I love it.”
When the subject of college came up, Goncalves’s mother, Diane, said, “There is roller hockey in college, but they only give out scholarships for ice hockey.”
Goncalves said she thought she could make the transition without too much difficulty. Because one could slide in ice hockey, the goalie position might even be easier to play than in roller hockey, Goncalves said in parting.
In other recent roller hockey action at Sportime, the Blackhawks won the adult championship, defeating the Wild 12-4 in the championship game.
Tyler Jarvis, who oversees the youth hockey leagues at Sportime, led the way for the winners with 5 goals and 5 assists. Other scorers for the Blackhawks were Mike Murphy, who had 6 goals, and James Keogh, who had 1 goal. Ray Curtin and Dan Cebulski played defense, and Joe Lombardo, a rookie, was in the Blackhawks’ goal.
Jarvis said following Sunday’s final that another adult league season is to begin at Sportime Tuesday, and that “we’re thinking of perhaps having another youth hockey season in the summer.”