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!”
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
With a 10-3 win over Santa Clara University Jan. 19, the SRJC Hockey team now holds the number one spot in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association.
After taking down UC San Diego Jan. 18, SRJC faced Santa Clara the next day at Snoopy’s Home Ice. The Polar Bears controlled the ice right out the gate with an early goal by forward Don Coyle and one on a power play by John Keshishian. Despite a couple of penalties and a two-man advantage for Santa Clara, defenseman Bryan Vrba closed out the first period with a goal to put SRJC up 3-0.
Alexi Kulikouskiy scored to extend the lead in the second period, followed by a goal by Blake Johnson, who has contributed either a goal or an assist in five of his last six games. Santa Clara broke the shutout with their first goal of the night off Polar Bears goalie Pat Vrba later in the period. Pat was replaced with Jacob Pavsek, who gave up a goal on a power play. Defenseman Sam Davis got the point back with a little under three minutes left in the period to make it, 7-2.
Santa Clara scored on another power play in the third, but SRJC forward Cam Davis scored his second goal of the period to finalize the score 10-3.
With two weeks left in competition, SRJC has regained the dominance displayed earlier this season. The recent wins have been accredited to the new recruits who pulled together the roster and added more depth. As Sam puts it, “The team camaraderie and excitement for games is at an all-time high; we’ve greased the wagon wheels.”
With games against UC Davis and Stanford University this weekend, the Polar Bears know what needs to happen to keep this win streak alive.
“You gotta want it more than the other team. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard,” Sam said. “We need to carry over this momentum into each game. If this group continues to play with intensity and a 100 percent effort, we will be successful.”
The Polar Bears will play their last home game of the season this Saturday against Stanford. This will be the last home game in a Polar Bears uniform for several players and the team urges fans to come out and celebrate another exciting season of SRJC hockey. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s, and as always, admission is free.
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
Coming off a victorious start to the New Year, the SRJC Hockey Team proved the success of its new “team first” approach as the Polar Bears took down UC San Diego 8-5 Friday night at Snoopy’s Home Ice.
The game did not start out as the Polar Bears wanted: the team struggled right out of the gate and players seemed lost on the ice. UCSD scored twice off new goalie Chris Tomaszewski in the first ten minutes of play before Polar Bears forward Adam Johnson put SRJC on the board to make it a one-run game.
Polar Bears points leader Josiah Nikkel scored on a power play to tie the game in the second period, but UCSD came back immediately with two goals to retake the lead, 4-2. Slowly, SRJC got back in the game with goals by John Keshishian and Blake Johnson.
With two minutes left in the second period, UCSD was hit with a penalty and the Polar Bears took full advantage. Defensemen Chris Whitten scored to give SRJC the lead, followed by Adam Johnson’s second goal of the night with 23.9 seconds left in the second. SRJC’s momentum continued as Spencer Wright and Alexi Kulikouskiy scored in the final period to end it, 8-5.
“There wasn’t any moment of hesitation from our team because we knew we were going to pull it together,” said defenseman Bryan Vrba, who had four assists on the night. “Overall we played well enough to come out with a W and prepare for our game tonight against Santa Clara.”
The Polar Bears will face division rivals Santa Clara University tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s. Only two players, Keshishian and Nikkel, contributed goals in a 7-4 loss to Santa Clara back in October. If SRJC comes out with a win, the Polar Bears will take full possession of the number one seed in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association.
“We have playoffs in Tahoe coming up in February where we plan on taking the PCHA title,” Vrba said. “Without a doubt it should be difficult, but with the roster we have now in place, there is no reason we shouldn’t win big.”
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
A few fresh faces and a brand new attitude propelled the SRJC hockey team to victory last weekend as the Polar Bears opened 2013 with a series of dominating wins.
The team bolstered its roster with five new recruits as it took the ice Jan. 11 against Ventura County College. Three former players- Adam Johnson, Bryan Vrba and Chris Tomaszewski - and new skaters Michael Olsgaard and Chase Bierbower looked to help SRJC continue its win streak from 2012.
It didn’t take long for the new players to make an impact as both Vrba and Johnson assisted Alexi Kulikouskiy’s goal to give the Polar Bears a 2-0 lead in the first period. Johnson scored his first goal back in an SRJC uniform with two minutes left in the period.
The Polar Bears kept control into the second as defenseman Sam Davis scored his second goal of the night; Johnson added a goal on a breakaway to make it 6-1. In the end, SRJC skated off the ice with an 11-1 victory.
Joining Davis and Johnson’s multi-point night was Kulikouskiy (3 goals, 2 assists), Blake Johnson (3 assists) and John Keshishian (2 goals, 1 assist). Josiah Nikkel scored the last goal of the night to bring his season point total to 42 (22 goals, 20 assists).
SRJC headed to Fresno the next day for a weekend series against Fresno State University. The Polar Bears beat Fresno Jan. 12 by a score of 15-2 and the next day came out on top 8-2. Jackson Joyce scored a hat trick in the first game, followed by a Willis Swift hat trick in the second.
After nagging injuries and a string of bad luck in the first half of the season, SRJC has found a successful strategy in its current five-game win streak. A key to that success is players learning to play as a team and not as individuals.
“Selfish play is what our player’s resorted to last semester when in close games or when playing from behind,” Coach Tom Billeter said. “The players now understand that in order to get the results we want they need to play for the guy next to them, not themselves, and everyone will benefit. It has been gratifying for all the players to see the camaraderie that comes with playing as a team.”
The team has a chance to continue this new mentality as it tries to redeem itself against Santa Clara University Jan. 19 at Snoopy’s. SRJC lost to Santa Clara 7-4 in October. The Polar Bears will first take on UC San Diego at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18 at Snoopy’s.