By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
MIAMI COUNTY — The Troy hockey team had its first truly rough weekend of the season before the Christmas break.
Leading into the new year, the Trojans are getting just what they need — a chance to come home for the holiday.
The Troy hockey team will host the Ninth Annual Miami Valley Freeze/Larrell Walters Memorial tournament Friday through Sunday at Hobart Arena, one of the many local tournaments and big events in Miami County this weekend leading up the the new year next week.
The Trojans added the Larrell Walters Memorial to their Miami Valley Freeze last year after their former coach passed away in 2016.
“He passed away a couple years ago, and we wanted to honor his memory,” Troy hockey coach Phill Noll said. “He had coached here as a youth coach since his kids were six years old, then when his two kids were seniors were the first year I took over, and I coached with him at the high school level the year before that. He was a guy that, being the youth coach, a lot of people looked up to over the years, so we added his name to our tournament.”
This year’s tournament — which kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday at Hobart Arena as Troy faces Beavercreek — comes on the heels of the Trojans’ roughest weekend of the season, where they went 0-3 at the Dayton Mayor’s Cup tournament at South Metro last weekend to fall to 4-7 on the season.
Troy began the Mayor’s Cup with an 8-2 loss to the Southwestern Ohio High School Hockey League Gold Division rival Beavers, who they will be facing for the third time this season on Friday. They followed that up with a pair of losses to SWOHSHL Red Division teams, an 8-4 loss to Alter and a 12-6 loss to Centerville — which is also playing in the Miami Valley Freeze.
“We struggled in all three games,” Noll said. “We’d been in every game so far this year — and even heading into the third period of the Centerville game, we didn’t feel like we were out of the game. But they have one skater that can put a team on his back and carry them, so we’re going to have to prepare for him this weekend.
“This weekend was a letdown. We let a lot of soft goals go in and didn’t perform as well defensively as I thought we should have. We were even up 2-0 against Alter, but we took our foot off the gas and they passed us by.”
Last year, Troy finished fifth in the Miami Valley Freeze but is looking to improve this season — particularly on the heels of the 0-3 showing last weekend. And it will be good to be the host team.
“It’ll be good for the kids to sleep in their own beds and not have a bus ride,” Noll said. “And then being out late, not getting home until midnight then jumping up the next morning to do it all again. It’s going to be a little more relaxing for them this weekend.
“Any team can beat anyone on any given day, that’s what we keep telling the guys. Every dog has his day, and we just haven’t had ours yet. We’re right at the midpoint of the season, and I feel like we are going to improve and surprise some people, win some games that maybe we’re not supposed to win.”
After the final game of the night on Friday, Troy will also host its alumni game.
“It’s nice to see some of the older players come back in, and last year the older guys held their own against the younger guys,” Noll said. “The younger guys won, but it was a good game. Some of the older players are in their 30s and 40s now, but they still enjoy it, and they still mentor the younger guys.”
After the 4 p.m. game between Troy and Beavercreek Friday, Findlay and Northern Kentucky will face off at 5:45 p.m., then Centerville will take on the Dayton Stealth at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, everyone will play two games apiece, with Troy facing the Dayton Stealth at 4:30 p.m. and Northern Kentucky at 9:45 p.m. The day’s action starts with Beavercreek against Findlay at 10:15 a.m., then Beavercreek faces the Dayton Stealth at 8 p.m., while Centerville faces the Dayton Stealth at noon and Findlay at 6:15 p.m.
And on Sunday, the championship game will kick things off at 7:30 a.m. between the top two teams from Friday and Saturday, the No. 3 and 4 seeds will face off at 9:30 a.m. and the No. 5 and 6 seeds will play at 11:30 a.m.
It’s far from the only tournament this weekend, also.
Piqua High School will play host to the 11th Annual WPTW Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament. The Classic begins at 6 p.m. Thursday with a matchup between Bethel and Troy Christian, while host Piqua will take on Lehman in the late game, with a consolation and championship game on Friday.
And on Friday and Saturday, Covington will play host to the First Annual Buccaneer Classic tournament featuring both boys and girls basketball, with Milton-Union, Newton and Graham all taking part. On Friday, Milton-Union and Newton will face off with a girls game at 3 p.m. and the boys at 4:30 p.m., then Covington and Graham will play, with the girls at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m., all followed by consolation and championship games on Saturday.
And in wrestling, a number of Miami County teams will be making the short trip to Vandalia for the GMVWA Holiday Wrestling Tournament on Thursday and Friday at Butler High School. Troy, Troy Christian, Covington and Milton-Union will all be competing in the tournament, with wrestling beginning at 11 a.m. each day and the finals slated for 5 p.m. Friday night.
Finally, it may not be a tournament, but the Troy girls and boys basketball teams will be hosting Ponitz Saturday, with the girls playing at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.