Several players involved with the Ducks’ THE RINKS program have returned home with medals in tow from the 2009 FIRS World Inline Hockey Championships held in Varese, Italy.
Each of the USA’s entries in the three divisions – Men’s (gold), Women’s (gold) and Under-18 (bronze) placed at the event. THE RINKS were heavily represented throughout the squads, further developing the program that the Ducks launched on February 16.
“This just continues to bring awareness to THE RINKS and what is going on with the Ducks, roller hockey and the opportunities that are out there for men, women and kids,” said Under-18 head coach Ken Murchison, who also manages the inline facilities of THE RINKS program. “It was special for these players to go represent their country and see part of the world through hockey.”
Joey Doran, KC Groon and Josh Winters, three players based out of the THE RINKS – Corona Inline, each proved to be integral parts of the Under-18 team. Doran (the team captain) and Groon provided scoring punch to the lineup with 10 points each (tied for second on the squad) in six contests. Winters provided stability on the defensive end for the club, which defeated Switzerland 5-1 in the bronze medal game.
“They were critical,” Murchison said of the three area players. “Joey Doran was probably one of our top players throughout the event and was named captain of the team. KC Groon was one of our top performers as well. Both those guys offensively brought a lot. Josh Winters was just our steady d throughout the whole thing. Those three were in the top six on the team and were in important situations at the end. They played a big part.”
Helping the Women’s team capture the gold following a 3-1 defeat of Czech Republic in the final were Ariane Yokoyama (three goals, one assist in six tournament games) and Kourtney Kunichika (three goals, two assists), each from THE RINKS – Huntington Beach Inline. Also representing that facility was head coach Jeff Prime, Youth Hockey Director at Huntington Beach.
On the men’s side of the championships, Huntington Beach Inline was also represented by Josh Laricchia (four goals, three assists in six games) and goaltender Michael Urbano (109 saves on 117 shots in four games including a shutout of the Czech Republic in the semifinals). To claim the gold, the men’s team had to fight off an early one-goal deficit to Canada before prevailing for a 5-4 victory.
“It was great for both those teams to be on top and bring home gold,” said Murchison, who hopes to continue coaching at next year’s World Inline Hockey Championships. “The whole atmosphere in Italy was one-of-a-kind, from the crowds and the different chants from country to country to the opening and closing ceremonies.”
The trip abroad was definitely a success for not only the three medal-winning USA teams, but for THE RINKS. In such a short time, the Ducks’ three-facility rink program (which also includes Anaheim ICE) has made considerable gains and now it can include international triumphs from players to its list of accomplishments.
“It is excellent for THE RINKS program,” Murchison said. “It was great experience being overseas and the competition was really good.”