Quality Over Quantity: Losing Teammates Restores Confidence, Renews Commitment in Remaining Polar Bears
The Jan. 15 match against Santa Clara University may have been the Polar Bears' 17th game of the season, but in many ways it could have been their first.
The team that took the ice Sunday had a far different look and attitude than any lineup head coach Blake Johnson has thrown out there this season. There were guys who’ve never played together before; others put in positions they had never been in. There was nervousness for some; new confidence for others.
Players were mixed and matched throughout the game, developing chemistry on the fly. There were no set lines, just everyone working together, all at once, as a team.
Before heading into that Santa Clara game no one would have blamed the Polar Bears if they wanted to throw in the towel. SRJC lost 12 of its top players during winter break due to various academic/eligibility reasons and overall lack of commitment. The team loses players every year at semester’s break but 12 is the most in club history.
For the second consecutive year the SRJC Hockey team lost its first game of the New Year to Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association rival Santa Clara University. Despite a solid effort by its entire roster, SRJC fell 9-6 Jan. 15.
Playing with a new roster of only 11, including three new players getting their first SRJC ice time this season, there were plenty of encouraging, and head-scratching, moments.
John Zerbe got it started seven minutes in with his first goal of the year. New player Matt Sullivan followed, netting his first of the night just two minutes later.
“I was feeling good. The puck felt good on my stick. I had two good forwards up there helping me,” he said of each of his two goals. “We had numbers in front of their net and I got the opportunity to just separate myself from their D both times. It really was a complete team effort.”