Roller hockey dominates

By John Holloway
November 6, 2003

Cecelia Francisco

Step aside ice hockey. Wheels are in and blades are out. Roller hockey has taken the stage. This is a year-round sport that is attacking the mainstream. Cabrini has picked up the trend and is stepping up to the tough competition.

How often does a small college defeat an Ivy League school in any sport? Last year, the men’s roller hockey team beat the University of Pennsylvania. Junior Rich DeMatteo, assistant captain, was second in scoring in the entire Philadelphia College Roller Hockey League.

“We dominated the competition last year,” Dematteo said.

These guys are no joke. The roller hockey team competes every Sunday at the Marple Sports Arena against Philadelphia-area schools. Last year, the team tied for first with St. Joe’s and Lehigh. According to DeMatteo, most teams are very aggressive, and there are fewer pads than one finds in ice hockey.

The team is made up of 12 players and one goalie. Thirty-five students make up the entire club and practice during the week. Gracing the team with his professional skills is Mike Casey. Casey plays on the side for the Marple Gladiators in the Major League Roller Hockey Association.

More key players to look for are junior Dave Arnold, the captain, and Rob Eshelman, co-captain.

“Dave is the smartest player on the team, and a good leader,” Dematteo said. “Rob is emotional on the rink. He plays with his heart.”

The game is not at all the same as the original winter sport. First, the line consists of four men instead of five. That is two offensemen and two defense men. In ice hockey, there are three offensive players on the ice at a time. After the four man line, there are the goalies.

Some may find it hard to believe, but roller hockey is faster than ice hockey. A major contributor to this, according to DeMatteo, is that there are no penalties for icing or off sides. This keeps the game going. There are three 15-minute stop-free periods instead of three 20-minute stop-and-go periods. That means fewer faceoff’s and more skating.

With such large enthusiasm for the sport, one would assume Cabrini would be motivated to enter into an Eastern league to battle for some real national titles. Unfortunately, Dematteo said the school rejected the idea of entering into the ECRHA. The cost is $3,700 a year.

This did not stop the team’s efforts to build a strong backbone. With help from the team, DeMatteo, along with the rest of his teammates, had 35 professional jerseys made through Tour Hockey. DeMatteo said that equipment may be much cheaper at group rates if the team was recognized nationally, hence the petition to enter the ECRHA.

DeMatteo said, “All we need is a little support, and we can take this sport to the next level. We are a real team and nothing is stopping us.”

Posted to the web by: Cecelia Francisco

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John Holloway

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