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Inline hockey team eyes return to championships

Kevin Lucena

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Chico State inline hockey goalie Nick Vargas prepares for a shot in practice. The team will open its season with a tournament in October. Photo credit: Kevin Lucena

When goalie Nick Vargas went to Chico State’s financial office to talk about funding the school’s hockey club, the office had no idea such a team actually existed. Vargas said he walked away with $30, enough for five pucks.

Evidently, the Chico State Inline Hockey Team does exist and it has for some time. The team was founded in the fall semester of 1999 and has made five appearances in the National Collegiate Roller Hockey League National Championships, most recently in 2010. Being a club team, the players have to cover the cost for things such as equipment, travel and hotel rooms at away tournaments

The squad competes in the Division II portion of the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League along with eight other schools, including USC, University of Arizona, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego. The league has six events over different weekends, where teams play four games each. Winning a match earns two points in the standings, while a tie is worth one point and a loss results in zero.

Most tournaments are played in Southern California, but the season’s kickoff event will be in San Jose. At the end of the season, the top six teams move onto the Regional Championship tournament in Corona to play for the chance to advance to Nationals.

Because there is no hockey rink on campus, the team practices in Hamilton City at the North Valley Sports Complex, a nonprofit skating rink and gym. The complex also plays host to the Wildcats’ home regular season tournament this year starting Jan. 31.

“The sports complex helps us out a lot, from a place to practice, not charging for ice time, and hosting our league tournament there,” said Cole Euell, team president. “I try to help out with their clinics for younger skaters as a thank you.”

For the first time this year, Chico State will have a female hockey player in freshman defender Carly Marquiss. Marquiss has been playing organized hockey since following her brother on the rink at the age of seven.

She played hockey all four years in high school in San Jose on her school’s co-ed team as one of only two girls on the team. Marquiss has also played for Team USA Women’s senior inline team and at the age of 15 went to Columbia with Team USA internationally.

“It was a bit strange, being so much younger, and I got paired with the oldest girl on the team, who was 25 at the time, as my roommate,” Marquiss said.

Chico State kicks off its season at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose on Oct. 25 in the first tournament of the season.

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on twitter

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Inline hockey team eyes return to championships