Last weekend, the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association held the national championships in Utah Olympic Oval just outside of Salt Lake City. Teams representing Universities all around the country came together to battle for bragging rights as the best roller hockey team in their division. After several days of fierce battle, the champions were crowned, but were they who you expected to come out on top?
Division I – In the NCRHA’s top division, you can typically expect Lindenwood University to be battling for the championship when all is said and done. After winning every regular season game, Lindenwood showed up in Salt Lake as the heavy favorite. After going 2-0-1 in round robin play, with the tie coming against Long Beach State, Lindenwood earned a by into the second round of the bracket style tournament play.
Lindenwood cruised past their first opponent, Arizona State, with a 7-2 win and move into the quarterfinals. Despite being favored to continue their run, UNLV stopped Lindenwood in their tracks and handed the perrenial powerhouse a 5-4 loss. UNLV would continue their run as they topped Michigan State 3-1 in the semi-finals, earning a trip to the championship game.
Making an unpredicted run of their own, after finishing round robin play with a 1-2 record, Bethel University defeated UMSL 2-1 in their first matchup. In the quarterfinals, another big win as they topped Long Beach State 5-4. Moving into the semifinals, Bethel continued their streak as they beat Eastern Michigan 5-3, sending them into the finals.
The national championship game between UNLV and Bethel was low scoring and a constant battle. Josh Foote managed the only goal of the first period, scoring an unassisted tally at 7:49. Early in the second, with Bethel on the power-play, Cole Sonstelie gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead with the assist going to Foote.
Early in the third period, Andrew Tamura brought UNLV back into the game with two quick goals. Only four minutes later, Josh Foote once again tallied for the Bethel Wildcats, giving them a 4-3 lead. Less than 30 seconds after that, UNLV would tie the game once again as Nick Robone picked up the goal from Anthony Robone.
With time beginning to run out, and the game tied 4-4, Bethel’s Josh Foote scored the goal that would crown his Wildcats team the Division I National Champions.
Foote finsihed the game with 3 goals and 1 assist, earning first star honors. Second star, Bethel’s goalie Ewen MacPherson, who finished with 37 saves and a .925 save percentage. Cole Sonstelie, also from Bethel, rounded out the top 3 stars as he finished with 1 goal and 2 assists.
Division II – In Division II, Central Michigan University completed their undefeated season as they topped Pittsburgh 8-0 in the championship game. CMU went 2-0-1 through round robin play, defeating Binghamton and Chico state while they tied Pittsburgh 3-3.
The Chippewas started out bracket play with a 8-1 victory of Texas State – San Marcos, then topped UC Santa Cruz in the quarterfinals 7-3. In the semifinals, Kansas State was their next victim, as the Chips skated away with another victory, 6-2.
Pittsburgh, playing in the same pool as CMU, also went 2-0-1 in round robin play as they defeated Binghamton and Chico State as well. In bracket play, Pittsburgh topped Florida 7-1 to move into the quarterfinals. Next, they shut out Mayville University in a close matchup, winning 2-0. With a 5-3 victory over Northeastern, Pittsburgh earned its way to the DII championship game for a rematch against Central Michigan.
What was expected to be a close game only stayed close for two periods. In the first, Kyle Siciliano gave Central a 1-0 lead with the assist going to Brad Bartkowicz. The Chippewas picked up two more in the second, on a goal from Dean Kmiecik (Mikie Joncic) and another from Siciliano (Bartkowitz).
The third period is where Central Michigan blew the game open, and proved they deserved to be national champions. With five additional goals, including a short-handed tally from Bartkowicz, a penalty shot goal from Curry DeArmit, and even strength goals from Kmiecik (Joncic, DeArmit), and two more from Joncic (Kmiecik and DeArmit), the Chippewas skated away with an 8-0 shutout victory to earn their first national championship.
Mikie Joncic finished the game with 2 goals and 2 assists, earning first star honors. Second star of the game went to goalie Mason Henige who made 18 saves and earned a shutout. The third star of the game went to Dean Kmiecik who scored 2 goals and added an assist.
Division III/Junior College – In Division III/Junior College division, St. Charles Community College had a come from behind win to earn the Junior College National Championship. After trailing 1-2 going into the third period, St. Charles had goals from Todd Hoefrin (Matt Stobart) and Stobart (Brendan Dugger, Tommy Wilson) to win 3-2. The game winning goal for St. Charles Community College came with less than a minute left to play in the third period.
B Division – While Lindenwood couldn’t bring home a Division I title, they were able to land a B Division title with a 7-1 victory over West Chester University. Lindenwood played many games throughout the season against DI teams, and were well prepared to make a run at the B Division title. They held little back in bracket play, dominating most teams. They did, however, run into problems during round robin play as they finished 1-2, losing to Arizona State 3-6 and Michigan State 3-7. Despite these losses, Lindenwood was ready to play when it counted, and brought home another championship.
Our congratulations go out to all the winners at the 2012 NCRHA National Championships.