Tuesday, Aug 19 2014 02:00 PM

Youngsters skate to Santa Barbara finals

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Tehachapi Falcons Justin Gleason (18U) skates with the puck past a Calabasas Blades defender during a tournament game in Santa Barbara on Aug. 9.

Expectations were high, and the Tehachapi Falcons mite division inline hockey team delivered in Santa Barbara earlier this month.

The Falcons walked away with 1-1-2 record and a second place finish during the one day tournament.

In the opening round Tehachapi beat the Calabasas Blades 4-2.

Mackenzie Fitch scored the Falcons first goal, followed by a hat trick from Captain Dylan Valdez.

Tehachapi then had its hands full in round two, playing to a 3-3 tie with host Santa Barbara.

Valdez posted another three-goal game in that one, and almost made it four in the waning seconds of the third period, firing a rocket that ricocheted off the crossbar as time was expiring.

In the following round the Falcons would come up short in a 4-0 loss to the Burbank Blackhawks, despite receiving a solid goaltending effort from keeper Annie Loken.

That set up a tournament championship game with the undefeated Blackhawks, who beat Valdez and the Falcons, 8-1.

"These kids have come such a long way," Mites Head Coach Brain Fitch said. "They have been practicing every Thursday and scrimmaging every Saturday that we don't travel to a tournament. And I am very proud of them."

The Falcons' squirt, bantam and midget divisions, all went 0-4 in Santa Barbara.

The mites will get the chance to avenge their championship game loss when the play at Burbank on Aug. 23-24.

Tehachapi will then travel to Calabasas on Sept. 6, before returning home to host the club's first tournament of the 2014 season at the "Nest" on east Tehachapi Boulevard.

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