For the first time in school history, Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) roller hockey club team has captured the Division I National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) championship, upsetting the favorite in the semifinals before defeating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO) in the title game at the Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wis.
Roller hockey is played on what is called sport court, something similar to plastic tiles, in a standard size rink. Games consist of three, 12-minute periods with four players and a goalie competing for each team. Team rosters can have anywhere from eight to 16 players, but only four skaters and a goalie play at a time for each.
“We are so proud to be the first university in NCRHA history to bring the national championship to the West Coast, and we couldn’t have done it without our coach, Bill Burrows,” said team president Travis Benson, a junior kinesiology major from Fountain Valley. “Bill has volunteered countless hours to this team for the past four years and has wanted this championship more than anyone. So for us to win the title for him and the university as well was huge for us.
“Not too many students know that we have an elite roller hockey club here at Cal State Long Beach,” he added. “So, for us to get this recognition and support feels great.”
The CSULB roller hockey team has had its share of success in recent years. The squad made it to the Elite Eight at nationals the last two years and has been ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation. To get to the finals, however, the 49ers had to get by the favorite – Lindenwood University of St. Charles, Mo.
“Lindenwood is a team that has been to the finals the past 10 years, and they went 28-0 during the (regular) season this year,” Benson pointed out. “We took them down (5-4) in the semifinals.”
In the upset win over Lindenwood, Ryan Burrows, a senior business major from Yorba Linda, scored all five CSULB goals. Once past the powerhouse, the 49ers set their sights on Cal Poly SLO, setting up the first West Coast final ever. Both CSULB and Cal Poly-SLO compete in the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League during the regular season.
In the championship game, Cal Poly held a 1-0 lead after one period, but CSULB tied it at 1-1 after two. In the third and final period, the 49ers outscored their opponent, 3-2, to come away with the 4-3 victory and the title.
In the title game, Burrows opened the scoring for CSULB with his second period goal at the 4:51 mark. In the third period, Ryan Doyle, a junior accounting major from Huntington Beach scored on a power play at 0:53; Benson scored at 1:11; and Skyler Hoar, a junior marketing major from Huntington Beach, knocked in the eventual game winner at 6:29.
CSULB opened the tournament in Pool B of round-robin play, losing to Michigan State 5-3, tying Penn State 7-7, and defeating Missouri State 5-2, to earn a first-round bye. Once into single elimination play, the 49ers defeated the University of Missouri-St. Louis, 5-2, in the second round, and the University of Tampa, 7-3, in the third round to advance to the semifinals against Lindenwood.