Inline hockey team poised for big year

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Junior defenseman Cole Euell fights for the puck during a scrimmage. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

 

Not many, if any, collegiate club sports teams have an Olympian on their roster.

Former Team USA Olympic hockey player Carly Marquiss knows her way around the rink better than most and has the international competition experience to prove it. But don’t let the only female on the Chico State inline hockey team draw all your attention; the tight-knit group returns with its core players and is coming off a 12-4 record last season going into 2015.

After a strong showing at the season-culminating tournament in Independence, Missouri last spring, during which team president Cole Euell’s performance earned himself a Division II All-Tournament Honorable Mention selection, the squad began its 2015-2016 season on Oct. 24 in San Jose at the first tournament of the year.

“Cole not only does the most work on the court, but also off the court, as he handles and delegates the duties of the hockey club,” said Taylor Rand, former-player-turned-coach.

The San Jose tournament was a homecoming of sorts, as four of the team’s 12 players hail from the south Bay Area. The Wildcats went 3-1 and scored 22 goals while only allowing nine goals themselves. The team’s sole defeat came in overtime against nemesis UC San Diego.

“We haven’t beaten [UC San Diego] before, but have always had one-goal games against them,” said Zach Roelands, Chico native and forward.

The team capped a strong showing by downing previously undefeated Cal State Fullerton in its fourth match in two days.

“We beat them 5-0 in a really chippy, penalty-filled game,” Roelands said.

With late-night practices at the North Valley Hockey and Sports Complex in Hamilton City, the club’s members are hard at work to build upon last year’s success. Players carpool in order to make the 20-minute ride to their home facility, but the costs to keep playing the sport are not cheap. Flight costs are extremely high due to all the necessary equipment the team needs to bring with them.

Fortunately, the team struck gold by creating a GoFundMe page online, enabling family, friends and Chico State hockey fans to donate directly to help fund the team’s trip to Missouri. According to Roelands, the team quickly raised well over $5,000, which easily covered expenses for nationals.

Now with plenty of funds in the bank, expectations are high after a positive start to the 2015-2016 campaign for the Wildcats.

“The whole team is returning from last year. With me coaching and everyone else playing, I think they would agree that winning regionals and at least reaching the Final Four at nationals would be the goal for this year,” Rand said.

With a returning Olympian player, nationally-recognized team president and a former teammate taking the coaching reigns, the Chico State inline hockey team should continue to skate past its opponents all the way to another standout performance in national competition next spring.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.