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Sibling revelry: San Jose’s Carly and Spenser Marquiss skate to the top of the class

 

Carly+Spenser Marquiss_WEB

Carly Marquiss (Chico State University) and older brother Spenser Marquiss (Lindenwood University) had a rather unique hockey reunion in the middle of North America last year when both competed for their respective teams at the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) national championship tournament in Independence, Mo.

Both had the opportunity to watch each other play – and cheer for each other.

The San Jose natives will get the same opportunity at this year’s NCRHA nationals, April 6-10 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, while representing their respective teams in pursuit of a national collegiate championship.

“Nationals last year was a great experience and having my brother’s team there made it even better,” explained Carly Marquiss, currently a sophomore at Chico State. “How crazy is it to have two family members from different colleges both make it to nationals? I couldn’t ask for anything better my freshman year in college.”

How crazy is it to be shooting to win a third consecutive national championship?

That’s the goal for Spenser Marquiss, a junior at the St. Charles, Mo., school, after helping the Lions capture Division III NCRHA titles in both 2014 and 2015. He is both the captain and leading scorer of the 2016 Lindenwood Gold team.

“I get to go to college and play competitive hockey for one of the best college teams in the United States – what could be better?” he explained.

Woman powered

This is Carly Marquiss’ second year on the Chico State team. However, she is not the only female playing in the WCRHL.

Lyndsey Fry is rostered on Arizona State University’s Division I team that also received a bid to compete in the upcoming NCRHA nationals, while UC Berkeley’s tandem of Kristina Siezcek and Nisha Junyapayot competed alongside Marquiss in this season’s WCRHL Division II tier.

There are several more females playing in the WCRHL’s Division III and Division IV tiers.

Marquiss finished regular season play as the highest scoring female in Division II with five goals and 18 assists to rank fifth overall in Chico State team scoring. She ranked 17th in the entire division – roughly ahead of 90 other players, mostly men.

She collected seven goals and eight assists as a freshman.

That’s notable.

(Fry, 23, won the silver medal as a member of the United States national women’s ice hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. She is now playing roller hockey after enrolling at ASU. She collected three goals and four assists in 14 games with the Sun Devils’ Division I team this season and added two goals and four assists in two games with ASU’s Division III team.)

WCRHL director Brennan Edwards said the number of female players in the league has definitely gone up in recent years.

“I think we have hovered around five or six female players the last few years, but 10 years ago it was typically one to two at the Division III level,” he said.

Planet hockey

For those who follow competitive international roller hockey, both Carly and Spenser Marquiss’ names are well known. Carly Marquiss has medalled with both Team USA’s junior women’s team (two gold medals) and Team USA’s senior women’s team (one silver medal) in international competition. At 15, she was the youngest player on the U.S. senior women’s team that competed at the 2012 FIRS inline hockey world championships in Colombia (winning the silver medal).

Spenser Marquiss was a member of the U.S. national junior men’s team that captured the bronze medal at the same 2012 tournament in Colombia.

Both have made multiple appearances for Team USA at the international level in their long roller hockey careers.

Spenser has competed on Team USA age-group teams at the 14U through 18U age divisions and also played in the American Inline Hockey League (AIHL) for the Silicon Valley Quakes as a 17-year-old during the 2013-14 season.

Both siblings have also represented themselves well at some of the top domestic inline hockey tournaments.
Carly Marquiss has won a NARCh fastest skater award and also an AAU top defensemen award. But that’s only part of the treasure trove.

“I have tons of medals at home hanging on a couple hockey sticks on my bedroom wall,” she said.

Spenser said he hasn’t really kept track of all his accomplishments in roller hockey. He has collected gold, silver and bronze medals on NARCh travel teams during a 10-year stint with the Quakes youth travel team, won a best sniper award, and has also collected gold, silver and bronze medals while playing for teams in the NARCh-sponsored Nor Cal Cup.

He has also won a Men’s Platinum Gold title at the State Wars U.S. inline hockey national championship tournament.

Both siblings have served as captains and assistant captains on miscellaneous teams over the years; both have helped coach youth hockey as well.

In the beginning

The Marquiss siblings started playing roller hockey at a very young age, about 7, in both cases. Spenser followed his dad, Ray, onto the playing court while Carly followed both her father and older brother.

“My dad played roller hockey all throughout my childhood, and still does to this day at 52,” Carly Marquiss explained. “As kids we would go watch him play hockey twice a week. I would color and play with dolls on the sidelines and my older brother Spenser joined a team at age 7 and began playing every weekend as well. After a year or so of my brother playing, I thought, I can do this and I decided to give it a shot since I was always there watching my brother and my dad anyways and I just ended up loving it. That was 13 years ago and there isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not on a rink somewhere in California.”

Spenser has been told he was just two weeks old when he saw his first roller hockey game.

“I would watch my dad play roller hockey every week for years and after T-ball and soccer, I wanted to play hockey, too, so I did,” Spenser explained. “We had a hockey net in our backyard with all my dad’s old cut off sticks and a bucket of pucks and we played and shot at that thing every day. I still shoot at that same net when I come home during college breaks.”

Both siblings said their lifelong love of roller hockey developed from that early family bond.

“I have always enjoyed sports in general but for me, roller hockey became our family sport and such a huge part of our lives,” Carly explained. “I love being out on the rink and not worrying about anything but the game. I’m sure it is the same with any sport: you make new friends who soon become your best friends and the sport becomes more fun. I have been playing roller hockey with some of the same people, whether on the same team or not, since day one. I have an incredible support team of hockey family and friends.”

Spenser said he has grown to appreciate the sport’s many benefits, especially at the competitive collegiate level.

“It’s competitive, there is great coaching, good exercise, fast pace, good friendships … it’s challenging and rewarding,” he noted. “I have made good friends throughout the years and am able to do what I love to do.”

Carly and Spenser Marquiss each played four years of Division 1 high school hockey at Willow Glen High School in San Jose, three years together. Their father was their coach.

“The stats were sometimes goal by Marquiss, assist by Marquiss,” Spenser related. “My dad was a good coach to me and my friends. I liked him being our coach. He made the sport fun while still keeping it competitive. He made us laugh, play hard and work hard.”

The family bond paid particular dividends for the two Marquis siblings.

“My sister and I skate and play well together,” said Spenser, who excels the court with his skating, stick- and puck-handling skills. “We can read each other on the rink without having to even speak.”

Carly Marquiss admitted growing up playing on co-ed teams was “a bit of a roller coaster.”

“At first I didn’t think twice about the co-ed factor of the sport but as I grew aware of my surroundings, I became discouraged by the fact that it was a ‘boy sport,’” she said. “Then there became the time when I started to grow and the boys around me didn’t. I seemed to have the advantage since I was growing faster than they were and it made it easier to keep up.

“That lasted for a good while but then the boys grew … and grew. I had to step up my game and figure out how to prove to them that I could handle myself and the game.”

Carly said playing on the Chico State team is “a ton of fun.”

“Our team seems to be getting better as we all get to know each other more,” she explained. “The team treats me with the respect that I’ve earned and I know they’ll always have my back. Playing at the collegiate level is a lot different than almost any other team I’ve played on. The boys are now men and have a definite size and weight advantage. I have found myself up against guys more than a foot taller than me. Now at 5 feet, 2 inches tall, that’s pretty easy to do, but it still seems to catch me by surprise every now and then.”

However, Carly admits being one of the few females on the rink does have its advantages at times.

“I’d like to think I’m a smart player and a hard worker,” Carly explained. “I admit that it is difficult to play up to the expectations of guys who are almost twice my size, so what I lack in size I try to make up for by making smart plays and simply trying my best. Sometimes my size does come to an advantage because guys often underestimate my ability to hold my own when battling for the puck.”

What’s next?

Carly Marquiss is hoping her second trip to the NCRHA nationals with Chico State will be even more productive. The Wildcats advanced to the quarterfinals last year, dropping a 6-4 match-up against eventual national championship runner-up UMass.

Spenser Marquiss, of course, is hoping to complete a rare championship three-peat.

Both siblings agree playing at last year’s nationals for their respective teams was a unique experience.

“It was cool to see the teams from all over and teams we’d never played before kept us on our toes,” Carly Marquiss said. “Watching my brother Spenser play is always a blast because he’s such a talented player. I have learned a lot from him and to see him out there, winning the national championship in Division III for Lindenwood made me proud to be his sister.

“Being one of only two girls at nationals was an experience and I am looking forward to competing at nationals again this year.”

Spenser expressed definite pride at being able to watch his younger sister skate at last year’s NCRHA national championship tournament.

“She was the only female skater at nationals and proved she should be there,” he said. “She holds her own and surprises a lot of the guys out there.”

Chico State finished 13-2-1 as the WCRHL’s Division II regular season champion this season. The Wildcats won their two pool games at the ensuing regional championship tournament – 6-5 over UC Irvine in overtime and 8-3 over the UC-Berkeley Golden Bears.

However, CSU Fullerton edged Chico State, 3-2, in overtime in the regional semifinals. The University of Arizona then won the WCRHL regional championship by defeating Fullerton, 4-3, in the championship game.

All three teams will now be vying for bragging rights at this year’s NCRHA nationals.

Chico State’s three opening-round games at nationals are against Cortland, Arizona and St. Joseph’s. St. Joseph’s defeated Cortland, 5-2, in the East Coast Roller Hockey Association Division II regional championship game while Arizona is the reigning WCHL champion. It’s obviously a tough opening draw.

Lindenwood Gold’s three opening-round Division III games are also against quality competition — Neumann (last year’s Division III national runners-up), Arizona State (reigning WCRHL regional champions) and Michigan State (this year’s Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey League champion).

Lindenwood Gold defeated Bethel, 6-3, in this year’s Great Plains Collegiate Inline Hockey League regional championship game. Spenser Marquiss totaled five goals in two playoffs games after leading the team with 21 goals and 39 points in 19 regular season games.

Marquiss is one of nine Californians on the Lions roster. He is joined by defensemen Thompson Teague and Jake Escarcega, both from Escondido; forwards C.J. Jewell (Saratoga), Chad Wolterman and Chris Visico, all from San Jose; defenseman Jason Novak and goaltender Charles Robinson, both from Chico; and forward Jon Gauthier (San Diego).

Spenser Marquiss called it an “honor” to play on Lindenwood Gold team.

“We’re a band of brothers, a solid team,” he said.

While Spenser has never played ice hockey, Carly did give it a try once.

“At 15, I tried ice hockey,” she said. “I was recruited at the request of an ice hockey girls Jr. Sharks practice team but found I liked roller hockey better. My commitment was with the four roller hockey teams I was playing for at the time: Midget (18U), Bantam (16U), women’s and a high school team. I couldn’t see myself juggling a fifth team with ice hockey. The camaraderie of my roller hockey travel teams trumped the possibilities of ice hockey scholarships.”

But not everything has come up roses on the playing court. With the gain, there has been some pain.

During her playing career, Carly Marquiss has overcome a broken collarbone, fractured ankles, sprains, strains, a concussion and hundreds of crazy shaped bruises.

“It’s all part of the fun and part of the game,” she said. “Our family motto we live by – on and off the rink – has always been … ‘Have Fun, Play Hard or Go Home!’”

As for future goals in inline hockey?

Carly said for the moment she is enjoying playing and will have to see where life takes her.

“All I know is I want to keep playing hockey for as long as I can,” she said.

Spenser Marquiss said his immediate goal is to continue playing college hockey at Lindenwood until he graduates.

But, he said, the game remains in his blood. “I want to play recreation hockey until I’m 80,” he said.

Sounds like a plan.

NCRHA preview

Eleven WCRHL teams received bids to the NCRHA nationals, including WCRHL regional champions University of Nevada-Las Vegas (Division I), University of Arizona (Division II) and Arizona State (Division III).

Three other WCRHL teams will join UNLV in the Division I field: Arizona State, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.

UNLV finished as both the WCRHL regular season and playoff champion while ASU (13-1-2) finished runner-up to UNLV (14-2-0) in the regular season standings and UCSB (7-9-0 in regular season play) finished runner-up to the Sun Devils in the regional playoff tournament. Long Beach State finished 5-10-1 in regular season play but advanced to the semifinals at the regionals.

Twenty-three teams will compete in the Division I field at the NCRHA nationals, with teams grouped in six pools.

CSU Fullerton, Chico State and UC Irvine received bids to join first-time WCRHL regional champion Arizona in the Division II field at the upcoming NCRHA nationals, though only Fullerton and Chico State have committed to participate.

Fullerton finished second to Chico State in the regular season standings and placed runner-up to Arizona at the regional championship tournament.

The Division II field at the NCRHA nationals includes 20 teams divided into five groups of four teams each for pool play.

UC Santa Barbara received a bid to join ASU in the Division III field at the NCRHA nationals but declinedt. The Division III field includes 12 teams, divided into three groups of four teams each for pool play.

The JC Division finals will feature two teams — West Valley College from the WCRHL and St. Charles Community College from the Great Plains collegiate inline circuit — in a best-of-five national championship series.

West Valley sports an 8-5-2 record while competing against teams from various tiers in the WCRHL, including eight games against Division II opponents and six games against Division I foes.

St. Charles enters the national championship series with a 5-11-0 record against sa likewise smattering of teams from four competition tiers in the GPCIHL.

Thus, nine WCRHL teams will compete for national championships in Cedar Rapids.

The pool-play schedule has been released for this year’s NCRHA tournament.

In Division I:

UNLV has the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Neumann (defending Division I national champion) and Bethel in its pool while ASU has Michigan State, Farmingdale (last year’s Division II national champion) and Lindenwood (last year’s Division I national runner-up) in its pool.

UC Santa Barbara has Temple, Grand Valley State and West Chester in its pool while Long Beach State has Florida Gulf Coast, Miami (Ohio) and Slippery Rock in its pool.

In Division II:

Fullerton has UMass (last year’s Division II national runner-up), Robert Morris and Arkansas in its pool while Arizona will meet Chico State and Cortland in pool play to start the tournament.

In Division III:

WCRHL regional champion ASU has Michigan State, Lindenwood Gold (last year’s Division III national champion) and Neumann (last year’s Division III national runner-up) in its pool, which has to be one of the toughest draws in the division.

Edwards, who also serves as the NCRHA executive director, called the Division I pools “interesting.”

“Top eight teams are in the top two pools, so they will earn a bye to the second round automatically,” he said. “So they look tough, however, there is benefit in that all games, even pool play, are good games, and these teams will benefit by having a bye, and then an easier – theoretically — second round matchup in the brackets.”

Edwards said he believes the JC Division championship series should be very competitive. St. Charles has won 13 national championships since the 1998-99 season, including six consecutive.

“St. Charles is the most consistent junior college in the last 10 years or more, and consistently fields a good team,” Edwards said. “After watching West Valley this year, and knowing St. Charles history, I am pretty sure that neither team will sweep it in three games. It should go four or five games deep in the best of five series.”

St. Charles’ Dillan Trimme looks to be the player to shut down in the series after scoring 25 goals in just nine games. After Trimme, the Cougars possess additional firepower in Joseph Rupp (13 goals, 20 points), Dillian Mulverhill (10 goals, 18 points) and Jake Abel (seven goals, 16 points).

West Valley, which is located in Saratoga in Santa Clara County, is led offensively by Tyler Gulan (17 goals, 36 points), Thomas Hartshorn (14 goals, 29 points), Matt Swanson (13 goals, 25 points) and Patrick Barnes (12 goals, 22 points).

“If West Valley can get contributions from all of their top four scorers, and shut down Trimme, they should have a good shot at the title,” Edwards explained.

Both JC programs have had alumni move on to compete at Division I schools – St. Charles to schools like UMSL, Missouri State, and Lindenwood and West Valley to schools like CSU Fullerton (Jeff Brown) and Long Beach State (Joe Kubani). Kubani will be playing at this year’s NCRHA nationals for his new school.

Photo/Marquiss Family

— Phillip Brents