Queens Park, Pizza Hut GCC are Diamond Mineral Water Hockey champs
The climax of the Diamond Mineral Water Indoor Hockey Festival saw another outstanding display of hockey skills by Queens Park in the Men’s final and a nail-biting finish in the Women’s competition between six-time champs Pizza Hut GCC and 2016 runners-up the Woodpecker Hikers.
The Carib Veteran’s category also saw Queens Park edge arch-rivals Vintage GCC to reverse the result of the two sides which last met in Trinidad 10 months ago.
The Men’s final would see a predictable match-up based on pool round performances and a repeat of last year’s final between the Pepsi Hikers and Queens Park CC. With Queens Park enjoying an 8-3 victory in the pool round, they entered this year’s final as underdogs seeking to win their first-ever festival.
While both sides played a good brand of hockey, the superiority of Queens Park was evident as they tightened the reins on the match and were up by 4-1 by half time.
MVP Jordan Vieira of Queens Park and Trinidadian international Akim Toussaint produced a duo that was too much for the Hikers defence to handle.
Queens Park would repeat their first half feat with four more goals in the second half, while tournament top-scorer Aroydy Branford managed just two for his side to leave the final score at 8-3.
In the Ladies final, Guyana’s national champs Pizza Hut GCC would have their hands full against a determined Woodpecker Hikers side bolstered by the addition of two Trinidadian internationals in Alana Lewis and Brittany Hing. The Hikers had soundly beaten GCC by 4-1 in the pool round and were poised to lift the trophy for the first time this year.
The fast-paced game however, saw a more determined GCC, who enjoyed the greater possession and winning several penalty corners in the early minutes. With the half-time score remaining at 0-0, the teams continued an even battle in the second half, but the Hikers managed to get more production out of their forwards and pressed GCC back into their defensive area as the game wore on.
Time would expire on both sides however, as they remained scoreless and would have to rely on a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
Most Valuable goalkeeper of the tournament Briawna Gordon chose this moment to shine as she successfully blocked all three Hikers attempts by the two Trinidadians, Lewis and Hing as well as Maria Munroe. Tournament MVP Gabriella Xavier’s opening shootout goal for GCC was all the team needed to secure the victory for the Pizza Hut Ladies.
Top-scorer of the Carib Beer Veterans’ competition, Raphael Gouveia, managed to score three of his eleven goals in the final match against Vintage GCC. Left back Jerazeno ‘Skillaxe’ Bell was in fine form orchestrating the attack and making several penetrating passes into the GCC scoring area to set his team in good stead to score.
MVP GCC’s Dwayne Scott was first to score through a penalty corner in the third minute, but Gouveia equalised three minutes later. This was the case two more times in the first half as every time GCC found a way through the Queens Park defence to score, the Trinidadians would respond with a goal of their own.
Queens Park would surge ahead in the second half with three unanswered goals and just as the match seemed out of reach for the Bourda side, GCC managed to pull two goals back, but with less than one minute remaining. Time would be the enemy for Vintage GCC as the final buzzer saw Queens Park pulling off the 6-5 victory.
Jordan Vieira of Queens Park received the Most Valuable Player award for the Men’s competition, while Reiza Hosein, also of Queens Park received the Best Goalkeeper. Aroydy Branford of the Pepsi Hikers scored the most goals of the competition.
Pizza Hut GCC swept the individual awards in the Ladies competition with Gabriella Xavier picking up the Most Valuable Player award, Briawna Gordon the Best goalkeeper and Kerensa Fernandes the most goals.
Dwayne Scott was adjudged the Most Valuable Player in the Carib Veterans competition, while Bryan Lee Chow of Queens Park received Best Goalkeeper. Raphael Gouveia of Queens Park and Dwight Sullivan of Old Fort shared the Most Goals scored award.