With the last Missouri Mavericks home game still to play, Rob Coggin said only a handful of players had seen the Independence Events Center as of Tuesday afternoon before the 16th-annual National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association Championships, which begin today and run through Sunday at the venue.
“The few players that I’ve seen that have seen the whole arena, their eyes are pretty big right now,” said Coggin, the NCRHA’s director of league operations. “They’re pretty excited about the opportunity to play here. The people have been great, the community is very fortunate to have this arena.”
The event includes 56 teams across three divisions – a total of 136 games of pool play and then single-elimination. Games are scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. and will last past midnight on Wednesday and Thursday. Games on Saturday and Sunday begin at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively.
Collegiate roller hockey games are frequently played on converted ice hockey rinks, but even for the national championships, the IEC presents a more expansive venue than what the NCRHA has been accustomed to, Coggin said. The IEC will have two 200-by-80-foot rinks (standard National Hockey League size) – one in the main arena and one at the adjacent Community Ice Rink.
Collegiate roller hockey games are played four skaters to a side (plus a goalie), lasting three 12-minute periods. If there is a tie at the end of regulation, tournament games continue with same length of periods in a sudden-death format.
Just take out the ice and replace the puck with a rubber ball and skating blades with inline skates rolling around on concrete, and you have roller hockey, Coggin said. “There’s no icing and no offsides, so it’s a wide-open free-flowing game,” he said.
Last year’s championships were held in Aston, Pennsylvania. Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, has won nine Division I titles.
While the NRCHA moves its championships around nearly every year, Coggin already indicated that he wouldn’t mind a return to the IEC.
“I can tell you, if we’re going to repeat it’s a definitely a location we would consider,” he said. “It’s very nice.”