Not even a late night road game could keep the SRJC Polar Bears from continuing their PCHA domination this season as they beat San Jose State University’s Division III team 15-3 last Saturday, improving the Polar Bear’s league record to 3-0.
Coming off an incredible last-second win over rival Santa Clara University, SRJC travelled to Sharks Ice in Fremont, Calif. to face San Jose State. Stephen Wolmarans started the action, scoring off the faceoff 10 seconds into the game. Chris Whitten followed suit with his first goal of the night a minute later. That 2-0 lead was trimmed to one as SJSU robbed Jacob Pavsek at 15:34 in the first period. Luckily, rookie Matt Katicich scored two back-to-back goals to increase SRJC’s lead 4-1- a lead the team would not relinquish.
Both Whitten and Katicich completed the hat trick early in the second period, and Nikkel scored his first of four goals on the night just five minutes in. SRJC made a change in the net to start the third period, allowing rookie Dylan Farinacci to get his second taste of action on the season. Farinacci saved five of six shots in his 20 minutes played.
Wolmarans (2 goals, 2 assist), Blake Johnson (1 goal, 2 assists), John Keshishian (1 goal, 3 assists) and Sam Davis (1 goal, 2 assists) also contributed to the score.
More impressive than Whitten’s and Nikkel’s multiple goals was Katicich’s first hat trick as a Polar Bear. In nine games, the rookie forward has eight goals, and six assists- leading all new skaters this season.
“We’ve found a good chemistry early this season and are playing well together. Wally [Jackson Waldron] and [Andrew] Mason gave me some great looks to make a play and I'm just trying to capitalize on those opportunities,” Katicich said. “We always manage to find each other on the ice. I'm just trying to do whatever I can for the team.”
Only one minor flaw kept this game from perfection: the abundance of unnecessary penalties, including having too many men on the ice to end the first period. While the team has cut its penalty minutes nearly in half since the beginning of the season, taking eight penalties in an offensive heavy game is something to be concerned about.
SRJC must be cautious as it moves into the next three weeks of competition, as it will face a higher-level of talent. The Polar Bears will take on both UC Davis (Friday, Oct. 24) and Cal Lutheran University (Saturday, Oct. 25) at Snoopy’s Home Ice this week, and the games won’t be as easy as others this season.
“Davis has a few guys that can put the puck in the net if we’re not careful. We know they’re capable of winning games against us if we don’t come out and play well,” Johnson said. “We’ve never seen Cal Lutheran before, so they’re a bit of an unknown. We have to prepare like they are a team that can beat us and be ready for a 60 minute battle.”
The team’s weekend series against PCHA opponent UC Davis and Cal Lutheran University will kick off at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s Home Ice.