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WCRHL rolls into season of change in San Jose

 

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By Phillip Brents

The Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League will unveil a new look when it begins its 2014-15 season on Oct. 25-26 at San Jose’s Silver Creek Sportsplex

Teams in all divisions are expected to compete at the season rollout event. League director Brennan Edwards said participants should expect “a full one-and-a-half days of hockey.”

The weekend also will include a collegiate roller hockey informational meeting for high school players and parents as well as a collegiate roller hockey alumni game on Oct. 25. Interested alumni should contact Edwards at bedwards@wcrhl.com to RSVP for the game.

Moving Up

The WCRHL features a major realignment this season as 2014 National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) national champion Cal State Fullerton moves from Division II to Division I. The Titans’ move will impact teams in both tiers.

Fullerton skated to a 27-0 record in 2013-14. The Titans defeated UC San Diego to win the WCRHL regional championship then beat Virginia Tech for the Division II NCRHA title.

The new-look WCRHL Division I line-up includes Arizona State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, University of Nevada-Las Vegas and CS Fullerton.

UNLV defeated Santa Barbara to win the 2013-14 regional championship, and all five WCRHL Division I teams advanced to the ensuing NCRHA nationals. The addition of Fullerton should make the Division I even stronger.

“The other five Division I schools look solid, with tryouts still happening,” Edwards said. “Division II will be a very competitive division with much parity since Fullerton ran away with the division last season.”

The Division II line-up has nine schools: Arizona, Chico State, CS Northridge, San Jose State, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, USC and Cal-Berkeley.

Also, the WCRHL’s B Division has been renamed Division III, and affiliate member schools will compete in the renamed Division IV.

Division III includes Cal Poly Gold, Cal Poly Green, Arizona, ASU Maroon, ASU Black, CS Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

Division IV members include UC Davis, Sonoma State, University of San Diego and Claremont.

Saddleback College is the only team listed in the WCRHL’s Junior College tier thus far.

Among the WCRHL’s B-Division teams in 2013-14, ASU Black bested Cal Poly Gold to win the regional championship then advanced to the semifinals at the NCRHA nationals.

Realignment will provide for some new rivalries

“We’re looking forward to Fullerton joining the Division I draw,” Cal Poly club president Chris Kumata said. “We were hoping that they would step up last year, but we’re looking forward to them this season. It should be a great addition to the WCRHL competition.”

The Mustangs return their top line of Ryan Newens, Sam Poyer and Kumata. All three players finished among the top five in division scoring last season. Cal Poly also returns its entire defensive lineup of Nico Delkeskamp, Jake Kockrow and Mitch Plum while female goaltender Nicki Reiff will once again backstop the team.

Among the newcomers are Zach Plum and freshman Alex Waddel, who played AAA-level ice hockey in Boise, Idaho, before coming to Cal Poly to study aerospace engineering.

“We’re looking forward to seeing these new players in tournament action, and we’re confident they’ll be incredible additions to the team,” Kumata said.

UNLV, which has advanced to the NCRHA’s Final Four the past three seasons, might be considered the early favorite. Top returners include senior co-captains Anthony Robone and Andrew Tamura.

Tamura, a 2013-14 NCRHA All-America pick, led the Rollin’ Rebels with 34 goals and 72 points last season, while Robone, a member of the 2013 NCRHA all-tournament team, collected 25 points in 20 games in 2013-14.

UNLV netminder Terry Martin recorded a .835 save percentage and posted 19 wins in 2013-14.

Expanded Horizons

Edwards, who also serves as the NCRHA’s executive director, said the NCRHA will continue to promote events with inter-regional opportunities this season.

Edwards said three to four WCRHL Division I teams are expected to attend the inter-regional in Colorado Springs on Nov. 22-23, where they will face off against University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Colorado State and other opponents to be determined.

The WCRHL’s Nov. 8-9 regular-season event at Queen Creek near Phoenix will offer inter-regional opportunities for Division I and Division III teams.

Puck Drop

The WCRHL’s regular season will continue Nov. 15-16 at The Rinks-Huntington Beach (all divisions). The 2015 WCRHL regional championships are scheduled for Feb. 28 to March 1 at The Rinks-Corona Inline, followed by the 2015 NCRHA nationals in April in Independence, Mo.

For tournament updates, visit www.wcrhl.com.