Californians help young U.S. inline squads excel at 2019 World Roller Games
Inline hockey teams representing 28 nations rolled into the spotlight at the 2019 World Roller Games in Barcelona from June 29-July 14.
The spotlight shone brightly on the United States, and California in particular, after the Americans captured silver medals in both the junior men and junior women’s divisions to face off the competition.
The World Roller Games are held every two years and feature championships in 11 disciplines of roller sports, inline hockey included. The event complements the annual World Skate Inline Hockey Championships (formerly FIRS).
In gold medal games on July 4, the Czech Republic defeated the United States 5-2 in the junior men’s division while Spain shut out the United States 2-0 to cap play in the junior women’s division.
The junior men and junior women’s competition preceded play in the senior men and senior women’s divisions.
The U.S. junior men entered the tournament as the defending world champions while the American junior women were looking to make huge strides following a disappointing ninth-place finish at last year’s world championships in Italy.
Californians dominated the rosters of both U.S. junior teams, with 12 players hailing from the Golden State on the junior men’s team and six on the junior women’s team. Four other players came from Nevada, Arizona and Oregon to further buttress the large West Coast presence on Team USA.
Californians on the junior men’s team included Corona’s Bryce Lorenz, Cody Vadeboncoeur and Logan Gallaher, Huntington Beach’s Clay Bozanich, Tustin’s Grayson Yada and Jonathan Jogiel, Irvine’s Jonathan Panisa, Orange’s Kurt Yano, San Martin’s Patrick Mahoney II and San Jose’s Derek Le, Evan Gengarella and Jaden Guzman.
Yada, Le, Guzman and Vadeboncoeur were returners from last year’s gold medalist U.S. team.
Arizonan Nathan tePas was among the new additions.
The U.S. junior women’s roster featured Californians Alexandra Lalonde (Irvine), Alexandria Tillemans (Bishop), Evanity Herrera (La Puente), Lilie Pogu (Corona) and goaltenders Ella Park (Encinitas) and Marisa Trevino (San Jose).
Isabella Clark (Arizona), Ashley Printzen (Nevada) and Lexy Ace (Oregon) rounded out the West Coast contingent.
It was a rousing showing by both young American squads in 2019.
“This year we had another strong team made up of mainly California kids,” USA junior men’s assistant coach Steven Boddy explained. “Going into the tournament, Jim Tamburino (the other coach from New York) and I weren’t sure how the group would handle the pressure of being defending gold medalists. Overall, we couldn’t be more proud with how the group played and handled the pressure.
“One of the highlights was beating Spain in the semifinal game in overtime. We had gone up 4-1 but then got into some penalty trouble and let them back in it. Their hometown crowd went crazy when they tied the game 5-5 late and they had all the momentum. For our team to dig deep and come out on top in overtime when Jaden Guzman scored the game-winner showed a lot of character and was a pretty cool moment.”
The U.S. junior men finished 2-1 in pool play, defeating Korea (20-0) and Great Britain (8-3) before losing to Colombia (4-2). The Americans skated past Namibia, 8-4, in the quarterfinals before defeating Spain, 6-5, in the semifinals.
The top seven U.S. scorers were all from California, led by Panisa (10 goals, six assists) and Guzman (seven goals, nine assists), both with 16 points.
The U.S. junior women finished 1-1 in pool play, losing 4-2 to Spain and topping Colombia 7-1. The Americans defeated Italy (4-2) in the quarterfinals and Finland (6-1) in the semifinals.
Both American losses in the tournament were to Spain.
U.S. coach Alex Morrison said his goal in constructing this year’s team was based on longevity.
“I wanted to have a balance of players who would be able to bring experience to the team in future years, so we had a few groups of players from different birth years, allowing younger players to gain experience that they can bring to the table in future years,” he said.
“The Californians on the team all contributed during the tournament and showed people all over the world that the West Coast of the United States can produce some great talent.”
Morrison noted that one of the team’s most productive players was Printzen, a Las Vegas native. “She was instrumental in creating opportunities on the floor, and her work ethic on the back check thwarted many a scoring chance for the opponents,” the U.S. coach said.
Tillemans and Pogu both scored goals in the win over Finland while Trevino posted a .957 save percentage in the championship game.
“Marisa was great in goal, leading our team to the gold medal game and keeping our team in the game against a very potent Spain team that had the advantage of practicing and playing together all year in preparation for the world championship tournament,” Morrison said.
— Phillip Brents
(July 24, 2019)