WCRHL ready to roll out 2021-22 season as teams return to rink after 18-month hiatus
The Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL) is scheduled to return to the rink after an 18-month hiatus with its first regular-season event of the 2021-22 season Oct. 23-24 at The Rinks-Irvine Inline.
The second regular-season event is scheduled Nov. 6-7 at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose.
The WCRHL held a mandatory all-teams preseason event Oct. 9 at Irvine Inline to serve as a gauge of where teams stand heading into the upcoming season after the long hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fifteen teams participated from Division 1, Division 2, Division 3 and Division 4. West Valley College and Saddleback College were exempt from the mandatory attendance as members of the league’s Junior College Division.
WCRHL director Brennan Edwards called the Oct. 9 preseason event “a great day of collegiate roller hockey.”
“The teams are super excited to get playing again,” Edwards said. “We had a WCRHL active club committee meeting on Zoom over the summer and it was extremely well-attended. I believe we only had one or two teams not attend. We look to have good membership numbers.”
The preseason event allowed teams to dust the rust off, in a manner of speaking.
“Instead of our typical optional preseason event, we elected to make it mandatory (this year) to give teams a little more help in ramping up for the season and allow them and the WCRHL to see how they compete,” Edwards noted.
Edwards said in order to hold the mandatory preseason event without raising fees, two games were removed from the regular season schedule.
“Making a change like raising fees this season would be very difficult for the teams to handle, as club budgets are very hard to change this late in the game or, in some unfortunate cases, funding has been dramatically lowered compared to two years ago,” he said.
“This season/school year start has been tricky since teams haven’t played in so long, many had their officers graduate and their new officers are having to learn the club sports requirements, renew charters, etc.”
The National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) did hold a national championship event in June in Pennsylvania, but none of the WCRHL teams participated. Thus, WCRHL teams will be seeing their first on-court action in nearly two years when they roll onto the court in Irvine for the first regular season event.
They will do so with a decidedly new look with players having graduated during the long break as well as new players entering programs.
Champions from the last completed season in 2019-20 included Arizona State University (Division 1 and Division 4), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Division 2) and Cal Poly Pomona (Division 3).
Each team participated in three to four games at the preseason event, in which games were limited to two periods in length.
Arizona State, CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Northern Arizona University and Chico State made up the Division 1 and Division 2 teams that participated.
Teams paired up within their own divisions as well as competing in inter-divisional play.
Cal Poly Pomona, San Jose State, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Arizona comprised the participating Division 3 teams.
“Cal Poly Pomona and University of Arizona looked especially strong in their in-division games and also made valiant efforts playing up a level,” Edwards observed. “In Division 4, Arizona State looks strong, where they left off in March 2020, while many of the other Division 4 schools (Arizona, Pomona, SLO and Fullerton) played mixed rosters with a few players from their Division 2 or Division 3 team filling in for the preseason event.”
In inter-divisional matchups, ASU’s Division 1 team went undefeated with a win and a tie while Cal Poly SLO’s Division 2 team finished 2-0-1. NAU (Division 2), Arizona (Division 3), NAU (Division 3), UCLA (Division 3), Fullerton (Division 1) and ASU (Division 4) all picked up one inter-divisional victory.
ASU’s Division 1 team finished the event 2-0-1 overall while Cal Poly SLO (Division 2) finished 2-1-1 and the University of Arizona (Division 3) finished 3-1 in all games.
For more information, visit the website at www.wcrhl.com.
The 2020-21 NARCh season officially came to a close Sept. 10-12 at The Rinks-Irvine as the relaunched Pacific Cup Roller Hockey Series championships rolled to a stop. Sixty-five teams took part in 11 age groups.
Awards were presented in 18 sub-divisions. A total of 151 games were played over the three-day course of the event.
The Pacific Cup tournament series was among the few events that took place during the pandemic that actually spanned parts of the 2020-21 calendar year. The series faced off in December 2020 in Arizona and eventually made its way to California once rinks were able to reopen safely under COVID-19 protocols.
The turnout for the Finals attracted teams from throughout California and Arizona and from as far away as Oregon, Nevada and even the Midwest.
“The count was actually perfect,” NARCh president Daryn Goodwin said. “It was completely full for the time we had, starting after school Friday and a completely full weekend running all three rinks.”
The six youth divisions attracted 33 teams and the five adult divisions included 32 teams in an almost even 50-50 split.
“Men’s participation and interest continues to grow,” Goodwin said. “We also had some teams from outside markets. One team was basically from Mexico, one from Chicago, Vegas, Arizona, etcetera.”
Division champions included Mavin Rockets (8U Gold), Arizona Jr. Wildcats (8U Silver, 10U Silver, 12U Silver), Goonies (10U Gold), Labeda Jets (12U Gold), Konixx Warriors (14U Gold), Militia (14U Silver), San Diego Rockets (16U Gold), TRIX (16U Silver), Pura (18U), Pama Labeda Golden Knights (Women’s Platinum, Men’s 40 & Over, NARCh Pro Division), Mavin Valkyrie (Women’s Gold), Shadows (Men’s Platinum), CPS Express (Men’s Gold), Kamagraf Mayhem (Men’s Silver) and Lot Dogs (Men’s Bronze).
Runner-up teams included the Raider Jets (8U Gold), AKS (8U Silver), Orange Crush (10U Gold), Bulldogs (10U Silver, 14U Silver), Stray Cats (12U Gold), Oregon Rollin Reign (12U Silver), Konixx Outcasts (14U Gold), Konixx Warriors (16U Gold, 18U), Mission Renegades (16U Silver), Vanquish (Women’s Platinum), Lady Yotes (Women’s Gold), Labeda Purple Haze (Men’s Platinum), Westside Boyz (Men’s Gold), California Rollers (Men’s Silver), Mavin (Men’s Bronze), California Beach Boys (40 & Over) and Skittles (NARCh Pro).
Ben van Houten of the Wildcats (8U Division) paced all division high scorers through round-robin play with 15 goals and 16 points while Matt Dunton of the Tour OC MudPura (Men’s Gold Division) led all division top goaltenders with a .977 save percentage.
Honorable mention honors went to Zander Resendez of the Goonies (10U Division) and Landon Kooker of the Des Moines Xplosion (16U Division) with 11 points each and Kat Reyes of the Warriors (16U Division) with a .957 save percentage.
Lea Armendariz of the Golden Knights (Women’s Division) turned in an otherwise outstanding .947 save percentage.
For more information, visit www.thepacificcup.com.
The World Skate organization (formerly FIRS) held its 2021 inline hockey world championship event for men and women’s senior teams Sept. 8-19 in Roccaraso, Italy. The United States women’s team participated but the men’s team did not.
The American ladies finished with the bronze medal in the highly competitive 10-nation field. Team USA advanced through group play with a 3-0-0-1 record, then defeated Italy by a score of 7-0 in the quarterfinals before suffering a 1-0 setback to Spain in the semifinals.
The Americans rebounded to defeat Colombia 6-3 for third place. France defeated Spain 1-0 in the gold medal game.
Californians on the Team USA roster included Allie Era, Laura Veharanta, Syndi Taft, Micayla Catanzariti, Camille Corbin, Valeria Vega and Taylor Hunyh. Brooke Baylock represented Arizona on the roster while Megan Myers represented Nevada.
“We faced a lot of adversity this year,” Veharanta explained. “We basically went with two lines – normally 3-4 lines – and the longer games (two 20-minute periods versus the normal 12 minutes here in North America) combined with the larger rink was really challenging.
“It was still a great opportunity and tournament and everyone had a ton of fun, though it was not the outcome we wanted. We’ll be back next year ready to go.”
— Phillip Brents
(October 20, 2021)