CSU Fullerton inline star Nelson honored with NCRHA award
At the conclusion of April’s National Collegiate Roller Hockey (NCRHA) national championship tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the NCRHA executive committee announced the recipients of its annual Outstanding Contribution to Collegiate Roller Hockey award.
Cal State Fullerton junior Hunter Nelson received the award representing the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL).
The Garden Grove native has served as the club president for the past two years. This coming season will be his last with the team.
He said he was “happily surprised” to receive recognition.
“As president, I have been in charge of delegating tasks to my other officers, managing our practices, player dues, as well as helping represent our club at school meetings,” Nelson explained. “I have also made sure that our club is turning in the required paperwork such as enrollment verifications and league payments.
“We participated in the WCRHL Collegiate Roller Hockey Fair on Feb. 20 to help showcase collegiate roller hockey to high school players. At the end of last season I was able to obtain money from the school to pay for brand new jerseys and pants, which helped save all our players from that additional cost.
“This season at the Sports Club Inter Club Council banquet we received two awards: one for club sport of the year and one for the most money allocated to a club sport.”
Nelson, who started playing roller hockey in 1997 at Coast 2 Coast in Huntington Beach, is pretty much a self-made man in the sport.
“I grew up playing in recreational leagues all my life,” he explained. “Although I always wanted to play club, I didn’t think my parents could afford it, so I never asked. I played until the NHL strike in 2004-05 when I forgot to sign up for a season and missed the deadline. I became more involved in other activities like karate and Boy Scouts and was away from hockey for three years until I got the itch to play again.
“When I came back, I was 19 years old, 6-foot-1 and 147 pounds. I started working out off the rink for the first time ever after realizing how weak I was against the other players my age. Four years later, I was up to 200 pounds. As an adult, I began playing in as many leagues as I could schedule and afford.
“I was transferring to CSUF three years ago when my friend Bill, who was our goalie on a rec team, asked me if I was going to the CSUF tryouts. I hadn’t heard about them until then, so I told him I would go with him to try out. That season we both made the Division III team.
“Last season, I played on the Division II team, and this season I decided to play on Division III to get more playing time and I was second on the team in points. I think part of the reason I was given this award has to do with me playing in Division III, but as president I still handled all the needs for the Division II team throughout the season and into nationals.”
Nelson, who plans to graduate in 2017 with a B.S. degree in kinesiology before attending nursing school, racked up eight goals and 18 points in 19 games to rank second in scoring on the Titans’ Division III team.
This is not the first major award he has received, nor the first inspirational-type award.
A year ago last March, Nelson lost his mother to breast cancer. He is also a cancer survivor, having developed leukemia at age 4.
Last spring, after his mother passed away, Nelson received the Male Titan Athlete of the Year award at the school’s Sport Club Inter Club Council banquet. The award is given to one male and one female athlete who is nominated and voted on by the 500-plus fellow athletes in the club sports program.
“They give it to the athlete who they feel has been the most involved in the furtherance of his or her club and performs as an athlete,” Nelson explained. “I feel I was chosen for that award due to my leadership of the team while taking care of my mom and ultimately having her pass away during the middle of our semester. I continued to serve the club sports program during this time because I loved my teammates and it was something I felt proud of, and I knew my mom was proud of me as well.”
The NCRHA released its all-tournament team on June 1. WCRHL players were well represented.
UNLV, which finished runner-up to Neumann University in the Division I championship game, received six all-tournament team nods. Andrew Tamura was named to the division’s first team while fellow forward Austin Shannon was named to the division’s second team. Honorable mention selections went to forward Darren Corsatea, goaltender Terry Martin, forward Steven Scamorza and defenseman Logan Sussman.
Shannon finished led the team in scoring with 11 goals and 21 points during the Rollin’ Rebels’ 12 playoff games (regionals and nationals combined) while Tamura ranked second on the team with nine goals and 19 points in 11 playoff game appearances. Corsatea was fourth with five goals and 15 points, also in 12 playoff games.
Terry was 10-2 between the pipes in those 12 playoff contests with a composite 2.12 GAA and a .896 save percentage.
Overall, nine WCRHL players were honored on the Division I all-tournament team. Long Beach State defenseman Taylor Abramson received recognition on the second team, while Arizona State University defenseman Ryan Cotton was named as an honorable mention selection. Other honorable mention selections included brothers Kevin and Kyle Mooney from UC Santa Barbara, both forwards.
UC Santa Barbara exited the tournament in the Sweet Sixteen round while both Long Beach State and ASU dropped their opening playoff match-ups in the elimination bracket.
Abramson led Long Beach State in pool play scoring with seven goals and six assists and paced the team with 13 goals and 27 points in eight playoff games. Overall on the season, Abramson led Long Beach State with 26 goals and 53 points in 27 games.
Cotton led ASU with seven goals and 13 points in eight total playoff games.
Kyle and Kevin Mooney combined to put up some prolific numbers, both at the NCRHA tournament and during the entire season. The siblings combined to score 18 goals and 34 points in five NCRHA tournament games: Kyle Mooney collected nine goals and 19 points, while younger brother Kevin Mooney finished the tournament with nine goals and 15 points.
On the season, Kyle Mooney paced the Gauchos with an amazing 94 points (43 goals, 51 assists) in 29 total games while Kevin Mooney ranked second on the team with 83 points (49 goals, 34 assists). Kyle Mooney led the team with six game-winning goals and 12 power-play goals while Kevin Mooney netted five game-winners.
Neumann’s P.J. DiMartino earned Division I MVP honors. He scored three goals in the Knights’ 4-1 championship game victory against the Rollin’ Rebels – one each via a shorthanded goal, power play goal and empty net goal. Shannon scored the lone goal for UNLV, which trailed 2-1 until late in the game.
DiMartino was among six Neumann players named to the Division I all-tournament team, including four to the first team.
In Division II, honorable mention honors were accorded to Chico State defenseman Zachary Claunch, Cal State Fullerton forward Brandon Fonacier and the University of Arizona forward Jesse Rooney.
Claunch, a member of Team USA junior men’s squad, ranked second in team playoff scoring for Chico State with five goals and 11 points in seven games and Fonacier collected four goals and two assists in nine playoff games for Fullerton.
Rooney was among the catalysts in Arizona’s drive to win this year’s WCRHL regional championship title. He roared on the playing court with 29 goals and 61 points in 22 games. He led the Wildcats with 10 goals and 14 points in eight playoff games.
Donald Brodd of division champion UMass, who collected just four assists in the regular season but scored 17 points in 11 playoff games, was named the division MVP.
Division III champion Lindenwood University reaped major honors with four players named to the first team and an additional player named to the second team – all Californians.
The Lions added three more honorable mention selections for eight all-tournament team picks, among them seven Californians.
Golden State natives receiving first-team honors included forward Spenser Marquiss (San Jose), defensemen Jason Novak (Chico) and Jake Escarcega (Escondido) and goaltender Charles Robinson (Chico). Forward Chris Visico (San Jose) earned second-team recognition, while honorable mention selections included forwards Jonathan Gauthier (San Diego) and Chad Wolterman (San Jose).
Marquiss earned division MVP honors while Robinson was named the division’s most valuable goaltender as Lindenwood claimed its sixth consecutive national championship and 12th overall in school history.
Parker Poore (Colorado Springs) was Lindenwood’s eighth all-tournament team pick.
Marquiss led the Lions with 18 points in 12 playoff games, followed by Escarcega with 15 playoff points and Visico with 12 playoff points. Overall, Marquiss keyed Lindenwood with 33 goals and 57 points in 27 games (including seven power play goals and three game-winning goals) while Escarcega ranked second with 44 total points and Novak was third with 41 points, including 25 goals (second on the team).
Robinson finished with a 5-0 playoff record, 2.37 GAA and a .894 save percentage. On the season, he was 11-5 with a 3.06 GAA and a .867 save percentage.
The WCRHL received two all-tournament team picks in Division III, both from ASU: defenseman Eric Bautista and forward Aryeh Richter.
Bautista picked up 20 goals and 44 points in 25 games for the Sun Devils, while Richter tallied 16 goals and 30 points in 20 games.
Missouri’s St. Charles Community College defeated California’s West Valley College three games to one in the teams’ best-of-five Junior College Division championship series and, in the process, capture its 15th national championship title.
With just two teams competing in the division, the all-tournament team was generously heaped with players from both participating teams.
West Valley received one first-team selection (Kyle Aldrich), four second-team picks (Thomas Hartshorn, Matt Swanson, Tyler Gulan and Jack Robinson) and four honorable mention selections (Jarritt Baker, Patrick Barnes, James McGaughy and Tyler McPherson).
Aldrich led the Vikings in scoring with nine points (four goals, five assists) in four playoff games and finished the season fourth on the team with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in just 11 game appearances.
Baker, Swanson, Hartshorn, Gulan, Barnes and McGaughey each scored at least one goal in the NCRHA championship series while Robinson finished the four games with a 1-3 record, 3.27 GAA and a .857 save percentage.
Gulan led West Valley on the season with 18 goals and 39 points in 19 games, followed by Hartshorn with 16 goals and 32 points and Swanson with 15 goals and 28 points. Swanson was 5-6 with a 4.10 GAA and a .803 save percentage while facing a collection of Division I and Division II competition prior to meeting St. Charles in the national championship series.
St. Charles’ Zach Micks (three goals, five assists in the playoffs) earned division MVP honors. Micks, 25, was the oldest player on the Cougar roster. He appeared in seven regular-season games with seven goals, but scored the game-winning goal (shorthanded with 3:13 to play) in St. Charles’ 4-3 win in the deciding fourth game of the national championship series.
This year’s NCRHA national championship event took place April 6-10 with 57 participating teams from the NCRHA’s seven member geographic zones, including nine entrants from the WCRHL.
Arizona State, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara joined UNLV in the Division I field. ASU, Long Beach State and UCSB all advanced as far as the Sweet Sixteen round while UNLV went on to play for the national championship.
Among Division II teams, Chico State, the University of Arizona and CSU Fullerton represented the WCRHL. All three teams advanced as far as the Sweet Sixteen round.
ASU ended its season in the Division III quarterfinals while West Valley College recorded a runner-up finish in the two-team Junior College Division finals.
UNLV finished 2-1 in pool play with victories over the University of Missouri-St. Louis (7-4) and Bethel University (3-2). The Rollin’ Rebels then eliminated, in order, West Chester University (5-2), Florida Gulf Coast (4-2) and Bethel (6-2) in bracket play to meet Neumann in the final.
UNLV entered the NCRHA nationals as the WCRHL’s regular season and regional playoff champion, and finished 5-2 overall at this year’s national championship tournament. Both losses were to Neumann University, including a 3-2 setback in pool play.
“UNLV had a great event, simply put — they had nothing to be ashamed of,” explained NCRHA executive director Brennan Edwards, who also serves as WCRHL league director.
The championship game loss still proved hurtful to many members of the UNLV team because, according to Tamura, the team’s regular season scoring leader, this was perhaps “the most complete season the UNLV roller hockey team had ever put together,” he said.
“The UNLV players took it hard, with several graduating seniors, as well as a coaching staff that has invested many years into the team,” Edwards explained. “They played a great game; they just didn’t get a ton of scoring chances. The Neumann goalie (Michael Maczynski, 16 saves on 17 shots) played strong, mistake-free hockey, so they were not able to exploit him.”
“A few bounces go our way and we could have accomplished the perfect season,” explained Tamura, who collected four goals and one assist in the team’s semifinal win over Bethel. “We celebrated accomplishments together, we overcame adversity together, and we became a family together.
“We could not have done this without the full commitment of every player, coach and supporter who got us to where we are today. No one person stood out more than another; we all put everything we had into this season and we all had our shining moments that made us successful. Each person who is a part of this organization had their role and we put it together to create a legacy. I am proud to be a part of this team and to have been able to end my collegiate career with this group of guys.”
UNLV head coach Adam Tamura said the 2015-16 edition of the Rollin’ Rebels was, in his words, “the best team” he has ever been a part of.”
“There is no better definition of a ‘team’ than I have had the experience to be a part of,” he explained. “There was pure heart and sacrifice up and down the bench. There is a great core of players on this team that are not just teammates but friends outside the rink as well. This is a team of friends, not just teammates.
“The final result of the championship game was disappointing; however, there is great achievement in what this team did this year. This team won the WCRHL regular season title, won the WCRHL regional championship, made its fifth consecutive Final Four appearance and the second national championship game in five years.
“What makes that even more impressive is that out of the those five years only one other team that does not offer scholarships for roller hockey made the final (Michigan State in 2012-2013).
“Our seniors left everything on the floor for this playoff run. Darren Corsatea, Eddie Davis, Austin Shannon and Andrew Tamura truly are an extraordinary group of young men and will do great things in the world. All of them will be greatly missed for all they bring to this team, both on the stat sheet and their intangibles that really tie this team together.
“A lot of credit goes to our goalie Terry Martin, who had an All-American level season. Without him, a lot of this could not have been possible.
“We had great contributions up and down the roster. Our captain, Steven Scamorza, really elevated his game throughout the season and in this final tournament.
“Our freshman defenseman, Ian Davis, played big minutes in all situations. This was huge for his first year playing in the NCRHA.
“Logan Sussman was one of our true clutch players on both sides of the rink. He has been for many years and it’s scary that he is only getting better.
“We had Cody Williams, who is one of the best forwards in the nation. He plays with so much heart and love for the game.
“We also had a player who played a big defensive role for in Emerson Lau, who took seven classes — four at his University of Nevada-Reno and three at UNLV — just so he can play with this team. His major is not offered at UNLV, so he took the necessary credits to play with this team. Talk about commitment!
“A lot of credit goes to Jared Joerger as the assistant coach of this team as well.
“A lot of respect goes out to our competition as well. We have a lot of respect for all the teams in the WCRHL. Congrats to them on their tournament runs. We also have great respect for Bethel and Florida Gulf Coast who both played very gutsy tournaments of their own and were very classy.
“Lastly, a big thank you needs to go out to the parents of this team. Without their support, this season would not have been possible. The same goes for all the alumni of this team who are still very much involved with the team.”
UC Santa Barbara defeated Eastern Michigan, 11-6, in the opening playoff round while UNLV, Long Beach State and ASU all received byes to the next round. Kyle Mooney led the Gauchos in the win over Eastern Michigan with five goals and three assists, while younger brother Kevin Mooney collected three goals and one assist.
Kyle Mooney got UC Santa Barbara rolling with the game’s jump goal in its Sweet Sixteen encounter against the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but the Tritons responded with seven unanswered goals en route to posting a 7-3 win and, in the process, eliminate the Gauchos from this year’s tournament.
UC Santa Barbara finished 2-1 in pool play and 3-2 overall in tournament play.
Kevin Mooney (five goals, five assists) and older brother Kyle Mooney (three goals, seven assists) paced the Gauchos in pool play scoring each with 10 points. Kevin Mooney tallied four goals and an assist in a 9-0 blowout win over West Chester while Kyle Mooney dished out five assists.
“The competition in Iowa was pretty good,” Kyle Mooney explained. “We played well, but gave up an easier game for us to Grand Valley (3-2 loss) that hurt us moving forward with the playoff seeds. Eastern Michigan was supposed to be very solid, but we came out firing against them in our first playoff game.
“In the Sweet Sixteen round, we played UMSL, and we came out hot and got the first goal. A hit cross bar, couple bad bounces and a few bad calls put us down 5-1 and we ended up losing 7-3, which was pretty bad way to get knocked out. Still, it was a great tournament for our team and we are returning 100 percent of our team for next year, so we should make a very good run.”
Long Beach State finished at the top of its pool with two wins (8-5 over Florida Gulf Coast and 9-0 over Slippery Rock) and an overtime loss (4-3 to Miami of Ohio). However, the Forty-Niners could not maintain their momentum with a 3-1 loss to Farmingdale State College in their opening playoff game.
Following Abramson, Joe Kubani tallied five goals and two assists in three pool-round games and collected 10 goals and 13 points in eight playoff games. Goaltender Tyler Gealy posted a 4-4 record, 3.49 GAA and a .803 save percentage in eight playoff games.
Arizona State finished 1-3 at this year’s NCRHA tournament. The Sun Devils’ lone win came in pool play against Farmingdale (4-3). ASU dropped match-ups against Michigan State (6-2) and Lindenwood (8-2) in pool play and exited the tournament with a 4-3 playoff loss to Florida Gulf Coast.
Cotton had four goals in the win over Farmingdale, while Braxton Schulz made 27 saves to go with a 0.931 save percentage in the game.
All three Division II WCRHL participants failed to get past their opening playoff game.
Chico State lost 5-4 to Florida State, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Arizona, 4-3, while Fullerton lost 3-1 to East Carolina.
Chico State finished 1-3 at the NCRHA nationals, defeating Arizona by a score of 4-2 in pool play to enact some revenge after being eliminated in the WCRHL regionals by the Arizona team after topping the division with an outstanding 13-2-1 regular season record.
Chico State ended its season with a 5-4 playoff loss to Florida after yielding a power play goal in the final minute of play.
“Our team had another great experience this year at the NCRHA national championship,” explained Chico State defenseman Cole Euell (below), who led the Wildcats with 11 goals and 16 points in seven playoff games. “Things obviously didn’t turn out the way that we had hoped but we got to compare ourselves to a lot of highly competitive teams, two of which made it to the Final Four.
“I think our team as a whole is proud of the way we represented our university and we know going forward that we’ll have to collect ourselves and ultimately come back next year ready to match the skill level of the other teams competing.”
The cross-country reunion for the brother- sister tandem of Spenser Marquiss (Division III Lindenwood Lions) and Carly Marquiss (Division II Chico State) — turned out more on the bittersweet note. While Spenser won his third straight national championship as a member of the Lions, Carly was sidelined for part of the tournament due to an injury suffered in the final five minutes in the Wildcats’ second pool game against WCRHL regional champion Arizona.
Not being able to walk, Carly Marquiss went to urgent care with what was initially thought to be a dislocated hip. But after a few of hours of X-rays and “some 19-year old healthy body healing time,” according to mother Terri, who ventured to the American Midwest to watch both her children compete in the national championship tournament, Carly came out with a sprained hip and “another bruise for the bruise book.”
Carly Marquiss skipped Chico State’s final pool game against St. Joseph’s (a 6-2 loss) but was back on the court for the playoff game against the Florida Gators. She finished the season with five goals and 20 assists, including two assists in six games at the NCHRA tournament.
“She skated and played but wasn’t at her normal 100 percent, which was frustrating for Carly,” proud mom Terri explained. “She knows injuries are part of the game.”
(Carly Marquiss has had seven weeks to heal for the TORHS nationals, June 24 to July 3 in Kalamazoo, Mich., where she will compete in the 18U and Women’s divisions.)
It was the second consecutive year that both Marquiss siblings have attended the NCRHA nationals with their respective teams.
“We had great time this year at nationals,” Carly Marquiss noted. “Although the outcome wasn’t what we’d wanted, it’s always a great experience playing against teams from all over and seeing the range of competition amongst all the colleges. We’re hoping to be back next year ready to compete.”
Spenser Marquiss was one of nine Californians on the Lions roster.
“It was great being able to play with guys I grew up with – Chad (Wolterman), Chris (Visico), Cy (Jewell) and I all grew up playing together and to have them on the team is amazing,” Spenser Marquiss said. “But after this year, it feels like I have been playing with all the boys on the team just as long I have with the guys I grew up with. Not only have I made new friends, but it’s like having another family.
“Some of the LU boys have won four years in a row, three years in a row, two in a row and for some it’s their first ‘natty’ win. But to carry the streak to six years in a row is a great feeling. A great feeling for all of us.”
J.P. Merrick led Fullerton in playoff scoring with eight goals and 11 points in nine games, while Andrew Berger (seven goals, three assists) and Kyle Alexander (one goal, nine assists) ranked in a tie for second with 10 points each.
West Valley College and St. Charles Community College appeared evenly matched in their initial two encounters to start their best-of-five championships series. St. Charles opened the series with a 5-2 win, but West Valley quickly countered with a 5-1 victory.
St. Charles captured the final two contests by narrow margins – 4-2 and 4-3 — to win the series.
There was a fine line between victory and defeat. In the third game, West Valley led 2-1 on first-period goals by Aldrich and Swanson, but the Cougars scored the game’s final three goals to win, 4-2, and take a two-to-one lead in the series.
Facing elimination in the fourth game , West Valley rallied from a 2-0 deficit to twice tie the score — 2-2 and 3-3 — before St. Charles capitalized on the short-handed goal by Micks to boost the Cougars to a 4-3 series-clinching win and their seventh consecutive national championship title.
Aldrich and Baker each had a goal and assist in the series finale while Barnes picked up one goal.
“St. Charles is the most consistent junior college in the last 10 years or more, and consistently fields a good team,” Edwards commented. “After watching West Valley this year, and knowing St. Charles history, I was pretty sure that neither team would sweep it in three games.”
The WCRHL has already announced its 2016-17 kick-off tournament. The dates are Oct. 22-23 at San Jose’s Silver Creek Sportsplex. A second regular season event is scheduled Nov. 19-20 at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline. For more information, visit the websites at www.ncrha.org and www.wcrhl.com.
Nelson photo/Roger Ta
— Phillip Brents