Bulldog Senior Named Game MVP Today
INGOLSTADT, Germany – A Yale student spending a few weeks in Europe during the summer is nothing unusual, unless they are competing for a world championship in a relatively unknown sport. It gets more interesting when the Eli overseas, Nick Maricic '13 (Alta Loma, Calif.), is better known for being a student-athlete playing for a high-profile winter team on campus.
The Bulldog ice hockey goalie was between the pipes for the U.S. inline national team at the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation InLine Hockey World Championship in Ingolstadt, Germany. Maricic, named USA's player of the game (12 saves) after today's 18-1 win over Great Britain, helped the Americans finish fifth overall.
He finished the five-game tournament with a 1.75 goals against average and a .902 save percentage in 144 minutes while stopping 65 of 72 shots on target.
While inline (also known as rollerblading) hockey is common for West Coast kids like Maricic, there are not many current college hockey players trading their metal blades for rubber wheels after the ice is melted. Quinnipiac's Loren Barron is the only other Team USA member who is an active collegian. There are good reasons why, including the regional aspect of the sport and the very different style of play.
That said, it seems like a great way for an ice hockey goalie to train during the off-season, and there are unique challenges.
"Inline is a much more wide open and offensive game than ice. It's four-on-four on an Olympic-sized rink with no hitting, so the extra space tends to lead to more odd-man rushes and high-quality scoring chances," said Maricic, who has a 2.91 goals against average in 30 career games at Yale. "The puck is also a little lighter so guys can shoot it that much harder. As a goalie, you have to do a better job reading and anticipating the play because you don't have the mobility that you have on ice. If you get caught out of position, it is much more difficult to recover."
"I first started playing hockey on wheels. When I was seven I started playing at a local inline rink and played only inline until I was 13. Inline is very popular in Southern California and the vast majority of ice hockey players from the region still play inline," said Maricic, who is the second (Billy Blase '10) Yale goalie from the Golden State.
The world championships are just the beginning of Maricic's jet-setting summer. The philosophy major goes home for a few weeks and then heads to Morocco for a five-week, Yale study program. He returns to California in late July where he will train for the ice season over last month of the summer.
The U.S., which had a two-day tryout camp in Lakewood, Colo., at the Rocky Mountain Roller Hockey Rink, won its first three games in Germany before being upset by Finland (Maricic was not in net). The win today kept the Americans in the top division for next year's championships. The U.S. won the world title in 2010.