The UCSB roller hockey team recently finished an exciting and very successful season, having returned from the 2007 Collegiate Roller Hockey National Championships with an impressive showing in their first trip ever. The Gauchos skated through the regional tournament en route to St. Peters, Mo., where they advanced out of group play before eventually losing to champion Lindenwood University in the single elimination round.

“We had a tough draw having to play Lindenwood, but we played well and gave them their best competition,” Head Coach Alex Hynes said.

In order to make it to St. Peters, the team first had to win the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League Regional Championship Tournament in Newport Beach. In the first round, the Gauchos slipped past UC San Diego 3-2 behind a double shorthanded goal by junior right wing Greg Rizza that sparked Santa Barbara’s comeback. The one-day tournament tested the endurance of UCSB, especially when going against archrival Cal Poly in the finals.

“Every year it comes down to us or them and it is always a highly energized game,” Hynes said.

Hynes himself played for the Gauchos before graduating last year and taking over the coaching position. This year proved to be the year for UCSB, as they shut out the Mustangs 6-0 behind a marvelous performance from senior Charles Gustafson-Trombley Jr. who recorded a hat trick and added two assists.

“We played with so much cohesion and spirit against Cal Poly and the fact that they are our rivals made it that much sweeter,” Gustafson-Trombley Jr. said.

That cohesion would stand a difficult test when the team traveled to the national championships to play the top ranked teams from around the country. In the first round of group play the Gauchos finished 0-1-1, but were able to advance based on points from the single elimination round. UCSB’s first game was against Towson University, a highly touted team from Maryland. UCSB defeated the Tigers 5-3 behind two goals apiece from sophomore forward Danny Messeri and junior defensemen Nick Scruton.
“We were inspired by the fact that the Frozen Four was being played in the same city at the same time and our team stepped up to the challenge,” Gustafson-Trombley Jr. said.

UCSB hit the end of the road when they met with powerhouse Lindenwood in the semi-finals. The Gauchos jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a goal by senior forward Brandon Telesmanic and a power play goal by Gustafson-Trombley Jr. The 2-0 score presented the only deficit that the Lions would find themselves in the entire tournament. The Lindenwood defense was able to contain Santa Barbara for the rest of the match, overcoming UCSB 7-2.

“We started out strong, had a lot of energy, but they were a great team. It was still an exciting atmosphere to be in,” Telesmanic said.

Lindenwood went on to defeat University of Rhode Island in the finals and claim the national championship. The Gauchos ended a sensational season as the eighth-ranked squad in the country at the end of the tournament.

“[The Lions] recruit and give out scholarships, which makes it very difficult for anyone to compete on the same level as them,” Hynes said.