In a nail-biting match, the Polar Bears beat undefeated UC Davis 7-6 in overtime to stay number one in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association.
After losing two games to Davis earlier this season, SRJC travelled to Vacaville Jan. 25 hoping to extend the team’s win streak and keep its number one spot.
The teams battled across the ice for five minutes before defenseman Bryan Vrba scored to put SRJC on the board. But then SRJC was hit with a penalty and with one second left on the power play, Davis scored to tie the game. With an assist from Josiah Nikkel and Don Coyle, Vrba scored again and forward Alexi Kulikouskiy slipped one by the Davis goalie to put the score 3-1. At the end of the first period, Davis took two from goalie Chris Tomaszewski, tying the game.
Nikkel scored to retake the lead in the second and defenseman Andreas Rahm scored 22 seconds later to make it 5-3. SRJC took another penalty, ejecting defenseman Chris Whitten. Davis took the advantage and scored to put the game within one. The Polar Bears got the point back with a goal by Blake Johnson.
SRJC tried to close out the third period, but a few questionable penalties got the best of the Polar Bears. Willis Swift was ejected and Vrba and Johnson were each given two-minute minors. For the last six minutes of the game, Davis had a two-man advantage over SRJC. As the clock ran out, Davis scored, taking it to overtime.
With 2:30 left on the clock in a five minute OT, Kulikouskiy hit one in for the victory. Players rushed onto the ice, celebrating the team’s eighth win.
“Scoring the game-winning goal in OT is the greatest thing to experience for any hockey player, young or old. It's hard to describe how I felt at that exact moment,” Kulikouskiy said. “Excited, liberated, somewhat relived. Most of all happy; not for me, but for the team. “
The Polar Bears return for their last home game tonight at 8:30 p.m. to take on Stanford University. Their next goal: the PCHA championships.
“As always we are all excited to play tonight in front our amazing fans and finish strong at home,” Kulikouskiy said. “For some players, like myself, it’s the last home game. We want to put on a show for our fans. SRJC brings hockey, our fans bring the cheers and the Ruckus Crew brings the Ruckus!”