It’s the official end of the 2013-14 season as SRJC’s spring semester ends, and despite a grueling playoff end in February it was still an incredible season for the Polar Bears.
The Polar Bears had high hopes this last season: a winning record, a division title, a national championship. But SRJC’s 7-2 loss to Robert Morris University in the first round of the ACHA Regionals playoffs Feb. 21, ended the team’s goal of getting to play on the national stage. Despite that disheartening loss, it capped arguably the best season the club has ever had.
After winning the PCHA championship to end the previous season, the Polar Bears entered this year’s competition with 23 healthy players and a newfound confidence. SRJC bolted out the gate, winning every game in September and October before suffering their first two losses on a grueling four-game weekend road trip. The team tried to bounce back against Division II rival San Jose State University, but the Polar Bears lost 5-3 for their third loss of the season.
Not liking the sting of defeat, the Polar Bears took a new attitude into November, beating the new club from San Francisco State University and sweeping the Wine Country Collegiate Classic. A complete turnaround from the year before when SRJC lost three straight games in its showcase, the Polar Bears leveled rival UC Davis, College of the Canyons and beat no. 3 ranked University of Northern Colorado. The WCCC got the Polar Bears back on track, both physically and mentally.
The team broke for winter in early December, winning its final two games of 2013 with impressive double-digit victories over San Jose State DIII (2-1) and San Francisco State (17-3). SRJC returned in the new year with a different look, but the same dominating play. It beat out the rest of the regular season with an overall record of 19-3.
With a smaller squad heading into postseason play, the odds were stacked against the Polar Bears. But that didn’t stop them from taking down Sacramento State University on day one of the PCHA Tournament, and forcing a forfeit from Santa Clara University in the championship game. The Polar Bears brought home the Adams Cup for the second consecutive year, sweeping their division rivals for a perfect PCHA record.
Alas, that postseason win would be it for SRJC this year. A terrible first period in game one of the ACHA Regional Tournament, doomed the Polar Bears and sent them back home without a bid to nationals. Still, as the no. 8th ranked team in the ACHA’s DIII, SRJC is a forced to be reckoned with.
The Polar Bears outscored their opponents 216-67, with 11 double-digit victories and an undefeated record in the PCHA.
Top skater Josiah Nikkel lead the team with 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists), with four shorthanded goals and two gamer winners. Chris Whitten, Adam Johnson and John Keshishian followed closely with 45, 44 and 43 points, respectively.
Dylan Dixon and Jimmy Reed lead all rookies, with 40 points (Dixon) and 35 points (Reed).
The SRJC’s goaltenders were nothing short of amazing throughout the season, as Chris Tomaszewski and Jacob Pavsek combined impressively throughout the year. Rookie Troy Tennison was among the top goalies in the ACHA DIII most of the year, before being sidelined in January.
The combination of all players, and strong leadership both on and off the ice, helped SRJC make this one for all to remember.
With the season done for the year, the club is tirelessly preparing for next year’s competition. Already, the recruitment process is looking optimistic and players are committed to being the best in all aspects.
Fans are encourage to check the team’s website and social media sites during the offseason for updates and information about the club and next season.