The tenth International Inline Hockey Tournament had to start as early as last Friday afternoon in order to fit in all of the 34 fixtures. Normally a weekend event, the record 12 teams meant a change to the normal schedule with the teams divided into four groups after which a double elimination chart was applied.
The 12 teams came from far and wide: three from the UK (Stokemon, Brighton Storm and Basildon Alstarz), two from Finland (Pahalampi and SHS), and five from elsewhere in Spain (Murcia, Aguilas, Global Team, Sancti Petri and Búhos). Local sides Barona and the Fuengirola Lions completed the line-up.
After a competitive group phase, Global Team, Pahalampi, Basildon Alstarz and Brighton Storm progressed as group winners.
The Fuengirola Lions, who had to call upon youngsters to cover for absentees, started badly, losing against Búhos in the first game of the double elimination bracket, before the reprieve of a 3-2 win over Global. However, their journey was ended at the hands of Aguilas, 1-2 after extra time.
The other Fuengirola team, Barona, also had a slow start but after progressing from the group, went on an unbeaten run until they came up against the undefeated Alstarz, tournament champions last September, in the semi-finals.
The game was intense and the score was at 2-2 when, with just over a minute to go, the side from Basildon scored. The Fuengirola team brought out their goalkeeper to play with five against four, but Alstarz took advantage of the open net to make it 4-2 and progress to the final. Barona then had to face Brighton Storm for the other spot in the showpiece clash. The British side didn't stand a chance and crashed out of the tournament with a 3-0 defeat.
A top referee
Jukka Virta, who has refereed in the Finnish inline and ice hockey leagues, as well as the world championships, offered to referee the final which turned out to be a showcase of excellent hockey. In the end, the hosts, led by captain Teemu Rastas, triumphed 4-2 to avenge their defeat in the previous encounter and bring an end to Alstarz unbeaten run.
Besides leaving with the trophy, Barona also cleaned up in the individual prizes. Nico Blomfeldt was named the tournament's best keeper, Rubén Fuente was the best defender and the MVP prize went to Matias Tunttunen (8+4).