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Titans, Gauchos look to rebound in 2015-16

 

fullerton

Fullerton State captured a Division II national championship in 2013-14, but faced a rebuilding season in 2014-15.

After posting an imposing 27-0 record during their title-winning campaign, the Titans finished just 6-13 last year. However, things appear to be on the up and up once again.

“We’re looking better this season with a lot of new and returning talent,” club representative Hunter Nelson said.

Top returners include Nick Balaban, the team’s top scorer last season with 44 points in 19 games, along with speedy forward Kiefer Lupascu and hard-skating forward Andrew Berger.

Top newcomers include J.P. Merrick, Trevor Nielsen and Eric Persuse, while Ron Best and Brooke Hernandez join returning goaltender Jason Silva between the pipes.

“This season we’re looking to cement Fullerton as one of the top Division II teams in the nation again,” Nelson said. “We’ve been working hard since August, on and off the rink, with dryland training and on-rink conditioning.

“We also have a pretty good-looking Division III team this season. Our goal is for both teams to do well in regionals and hopefully nationals, too.”

UC Santana Barbara is another team aiming for improved fortunes in 2015-16 after finishing 5-13-2 in Division I last year.

“This season should be a good one for us; we’re definitely looking forward to rebounding,” said veteran Kyle Mooney, last season’s top scorer for the Gauchos.

Mooney, who’s entering his fourth WCRHL season, won NARCh West Coast Finals club championships in Junior Platinum and Division I over the summer. His younger brother, Kevin Mooney – an accomplished ice and inline player out of Laguna Hills High School – is the team’s top recruit as an incoming freshman.

Defenseman Jack Matthews is another top returner, while goaltender Colin Menz will make the jump up from last year’s Division III squad.

“Our team is still relatively young,” Kyle Mooney said.

But one that’s banking on improvement.

– Phillip Brents