Santee’s Baldwin to represent Team USA at inline hockey world championship event

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California will have significant representation during this month’s International Federation of Roller Hockey (FIRS) inline hockey world championship tournament in Roana and Asiago, Italy. Specifically, Santee resident Charles “Chucky Slick” Baldwin will represent East County.

California will have significant representation during this month’s International Federation of Roller Hockey (FIRS) inline hockey world championship tournament in Roana and Asiago, Italy. Specifically, Santee resident Charles “Chucky Slick” Baldwin will represent East County.

Baldwin, who will be making his second consecutive appearance for Team USA in the international event, called it an honor to be selected to represent his country. He helped the U.S. men’s senior team capture the bronze medal at last year’s event in Argentina by tying for the team lead with 10 points and leading the team with eight goals.

Baldwin recorded a hat trick in Team USA’s 7-4 win over Latvia in last year’s bronze medal game. 

The high-scoring forward has now set his sets on excelling in Italy.

“We’re going for gold,” the 2014 Asia Cup MVP explained. “We always strive for the highest possible achievement.”

International games have become closely contested in recent years. The Czechs edged France, 2-1, to win last year’s gold medal.

Baldwin knows the Czechs quite well after playing professional ice hockey over the winter in the Czech Republic. The Czechs swept the senior women’s, junior men’s and senior men’s divisions at last year’s FIRS inline world championship event.

“They know how to play hockey, for sure,” he noted.

Besides Baldwin, Californians on this year’s U.S. senior men’s roster include Brian Ganz (Sunnywale), Cody Page (Dana Point) and goaltender Blake Ducker (Orange). Baldwin, Ducker and Ganz are all returners off last year’s team.

“From what I understand, this year’s team has a lot of returners and maybe three or four new guys,” Baldwin said.

Team USA players will report June 15-16 in New York before departing for Europe. The senior’s men’s tournament is scheduled June 20-25.

This year’s senior men’s field includes 25 international teams: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela. 

Going for gold

The United States will have teams competing in all four divisions — junior women, junior men, senior women and senior men. This year’s tournament is expected to set a participation record with 1,500 athletes from around the world. Players from the Golden State comprise a sizable percentage of the various U.S. teams’ rosters. 

This year’s U.S. junior men’s roster includes eight Californians (out of 10 roster spots) while six Californians have been selected to compete on Team USA’s junior women’s squad. Five Californians brace the U.S. senior women’s team.

The junior men’s and senior women’s divisions faced off the tournament with games June 12-17 in Asiago while the junior women’s tournament is scheduled June 20-25 in Asiago and Roana.

This year’s FIRS senior women’s tournament includes 17 teams divided into four groups. The United States, France, New Zealand and Australia comprise Group B.

Group A includes Sweden, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Canada and the Czech Republic. Group C includes Great Britain, Spain, India and Namibia. Group D includes Iran, Italy, Finland and Latvia.

Team USA will meet France in its group opener on June 12, followed by games against New Zealand on June 13 and Australia on June 14. The playoffs follow on June 15 and conclude with medal-round games on June 17.

The Czech Republic recorded a narrow 2-1 victory over the U.S. team to win last year’s gold medal. In another close match-up, Spain edged Finland, 4-3, to win last year’s bronze medal game.

Meanwhile, the U.S. junior men’s team will be looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish. 

This year’s junior men’s field includes 18 teams divided into four groups. The United States, India, Spain and Great Britain will compete in Group D.

Group A includes Slovenia, Namibia, Canada, Colombia and the Czech Republic. Group B includes Sweden, Latvia, Chinese Taipei, Mexico and France. Group C includes Korea, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

The U.S. junior men’s team will play three pool games, starting June 12 against India and following with games June 13 against Great Britain and June 14 against Spain. Playoff rounds are June 15-17.

The Czech Republic defeated France, 2-0, in last year’s gold medal game while Italy denied Team USA a medal on the strength of a 3-2 victory in the bronze medal game.

This year’s junior women’s field features nine teams: Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Finland, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States.

The division resumes play at the international level after not being contested at last year’s FIRS international championship tournament in Rosario, Argentina.

For tournament updates, visit the website at www.worldinlinehockey.com.

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