Yale goalie Nick Maricic ’13 and Quinnipiac defender Loren Barron have a particularly longstanding hockey rivalry: For over a decade, the pair have faced off against each other in minor leagues, then as juniors in the USHL and now at the collegiate level. But this past June, Maricic and Barron finally suited up for the same side as they competed for Team USA in the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation InLine Hockey World Championship.
The 17th annual tournament, which took place in Ingolstadt, Germany, in early June, brought together eight inline hockey teams from the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Slovenia and Sweden. Team USA was undefeated in the preliminary round, but was upset in overtime by Finland in the quarterfinals. Canada finished the weeklong tournament in first place, followed by Germany and Slovenia in second and third, respectively.
Maricic and Barron were the youngest — and the only two current collegiate players — on the American team, which also included NCAA ice hockey graduates and a few inline hockey players who compete professionally in Europe.
Both Maricic and Barron said they enjoyed playing together for the same team, and Barron added that they have been friends and competitors since they were about 8 years old. Maricic said they grew up about 15 minutes away from each other in their home state of California.
“We always have a friendly banter going back and forth,” Maricic said. “I think I had the upper hand after sophomore year, but then he scored a nice goal on me last season so it’s pretty even now.”
“He’s a great goalie,” Barron said of Maricic. “He definitely makes us feel comfortable back there.”
Others shared Barron’s opinion of Maricic: he was named Team USA’s player of the game after it defeated Great Britain 18–1 on June 6. He finished the tournament with a 1.75 goals against average and a .902 save percentage, while stopping 65 of 72 shots on net.
Inline hockey differs from ice hockey in that it is played on roller blades and is a non-contact sport. Also, there are only four players and one goalie per team and the games take place on an Olympic-sized rink.
Maricic said he grew up playing inline hockey, which is more popular than ice hockey in warmer, southern climates, but switched to ice hockey when he was 12.
“Without hitting, [inline hockey] becomes more of a skill game,” Maricic said. “[As a goalie] you don’t have the same mobility on Rollerblades because you can’t slide, so you really have to anticipate the plays.”
Maricic first met Joe Cook, coach of the national inline hockey team since the summer of 2011, when he was playing for a Californian inline hockey team at the North American Roller Hockey Championships in Florida. Cook invited Maricic to join the national team in January.
Cook said that Maricic was “spectacular” as a goalie, even though the team finished fifth overall in the tournament.
“[Maricic] reads plays well as a goaltender, which is important,” Cook said in an email to the News. “He is a very calm guy, which makes him an asset on the floor while the game is going on. Some goalies get rattled or down on themselves and his solid demeanor was a huge asset for us.”
The Bulldogs’ conference season will start on Nov. 2 and 3 with games at Dartmouth and Harvard, respectively. Maricic and Barron will not face off again until Feb. 2, when Yale hosts Quinnipiac.