SRJC’s Top 10 statistics of the 2015-16 season: No. 6— First-year players
It shouldn't be a surprise that SRJC's entire rookie class makes our list of top statistics from the 2015-16 season; especially with the numbers that the first-year Polar Bears players put up.
Most seasons there are one or two rookie standouts, but this year all 11 freshman players made a name for themselves.
Freshman forwards Kurtis Klinger and Lane Beliveau lead the rookies for the first three months of the season, notching 34 points between them in 16 games. But once they were done at the end of the first semester we pit the other three top rookie skaters against each other just for fun.
Evan Hastings, Max Brownlee and Larry Hansen battled throughout January to see who would be crowned SRJC’s rookie king. Hastings came into the second half of the season with a six-point lead over his two teammates, but a strong pull by Brownlee in back-to-back weekends to start January pushed him into the lead.
Brownlee had an under-the-rader point streak from Nov. 6 to Jan. 29 that completely blew Hastings' lead out of the water. He ended the season with 28 points, with Hastings right behind at 26 (10 goals, 16 assists) and Hansen at 25 (11 goals, 14 assists). Hastings and Hansen took two penalties on the year, while Brownlee clocked 16 minutes.
Hansen was the only Polar Bear rookie to complete a hat trick this season, scoring one goal in each period of SRJC's 5-4 loss to Cal State Fullerton Jan. 15. Brownlee came close to the hatty a few times on the season, but Hansen is the one that sealed the deal and ended up with the sole honor.
"I think all us coming from competitive hockey backgrounds and programs really helped us contribute throughout the year," Hansen said. "From the get go everyone knew that the talent was there. There wasn't any pressure on one rookie to produce, which helped take out a lot of stress."
SRJC’s top three rookie points leaders may have put up some big numbers overall, but they are just a small part of the contribution the freshman made.
Out of the 157 goals scored by SRJC this season, rookie skaters accounted for 71. That's only 15 goals less than returning players combined.
Defensemen AJ Spears and Tim Buchter solidified the Polar Bears blue line in a year when SRJC's defense was a big what-if. Although not a huge offensive force, Zack Azevedo provided not only a couple key assists in the second half, but his non-official goal against the Oakland Ice Raiders Dec. 5 goes down as one of SRJC's best cellys of the season (go ahead and check our Instagram page if you don't believe us).
The 2015-16 freshman were arguably the best first-year skaterd SRJC has seen since its first two years after rebranding. We kinda let that go to the rookies heads season. Partially because we wanted to see them compete against each other, partially because they all were that impressive.
Tune in Monday, March 14 to see what No. 5 is on SRJC’s Top 10 Statistics of the 2015-16 season.