The Polar Bears are no strangers to the penalty box, but in Friday night’s match against College of the Canyons, they kept their cool when it mattered most and captured an 8-2 victory.
After beating CoC 6-2 on Thursday, the two teams met for a rematch Friday. Right out the gate, the Polar Bears looked a bit lost; Misconnections, turnovers, and a starting line that looked uncomfortable together. But the Polar Bears still managed to end the period with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a Blake Johnson goal and Matt Kiticich’s first goal as a Polar Bear.
“We were just chipping and dumping; trying to keep the pressure up. We were causing some simply turnovers, making simply passes and got it to the point and to the back of the net,” Kiticich described as the setup of his first goal.”
Players came out in the second period looking better than they did in the first, pulling off a goal by Brandon Bronze and Andrew Mason’s first SRJC goal.
“Our play in the first period was chaotic; we didn’t play our game,” said Chris Whitten, who had an assist on SRJC’s first goal. “[Mike] Kovanis [head coach] did a great job in-between periods, and our strategy improved tremendously.”
“We played our style of play in the second period and controlled the game better,” he continued. “Bronze and Mason did a great job getting our team fired up. The talking on the bench shows we’re really becoming a closer family.”
With a 4-2 lead going into the final period, the game was completely up for grabs. The teams traded penalties for 11 minutes before Josiah Nikkel scored a power play goal. From there, the tension on the ice continued to grow and CoC proved the team just couldn’t handle the heat.
In a disputed play in the CoC’s offensize zone, two players collided for what CoC believed to be an intentional hit. No penalty was called and a CoC forward and coach were ejected from the game. SRJC skated with a five-minute man advantage, allowing Jackson Waldron to score and Nikkel to add to more to complete the hat trick. Two CoC slashing penalties also contributed to the Polar Bear’s end of game offensive blowout.
While the Polar Bears scored timely goals, it was Dominic Jones’ impressive play in net that really silenced CoC. Jones performed near acrobatic saves, deflecting 21 of 23 shots and earning save no. 3 on the season.
SRJC outshot CoC 67- 23 in the game and will face the team one more time this season: in the Polar Bear’s November showcase. After nearly self-destructing in this match, no doubt CoC will be out for blood.
The Polar Bears will finish their three-game road trip tonight at 9:15 p.m. against CSU Fullerton’s Division II team.
It’s early in the season, but the Polar Bears are already on a roll with two wins in as many games. With an 8-4 win over Cal Sept. 20, and Thursday’s 6-2 College of the Canyons victory, the Polar Bears have a quick 2-0 record.
Last Saturday’s 6-2 win against UC Berkeley was just what the team needed after struggling in four preseason games. John Keshishian scored a hat trick early in the game, paving way for five veteran teammates to pad the score. Chris Whitten put up two goals in the game, with Josiah Nikkel, Jackson Waldron and Steve Wolmarins each adding one goal. Rookies Matt Kiticich and Colin Ridenour scored their first points in an SRJC uniform; Kiticich assisted Waldron’s second period goal, while Ridenour passed off to both Whitten and Keshishian’s second goals.
That opening night win propelled the Polar Bears into their first road trip, matching up against Southern California nemesis College of the Canyons Sept. 25 for the first match of a two-game series.
It was a battle for the first 10 minutes, but SRJC scored first with two goals by defensemen Brandon Bronze and Blake Johnson. Sophomore forward Jackson Waldron scored to end the first period with the Polar Bears on top, 3-0. Waldron added another goal in the second period for a 4-1 lead.
“I felt great out there tonight,” Waldron said, who has three goals and an assist in two games. “Playing with Andrew [Mason] and Matt [Kiticich] made things easy or me. We were clicking as a line and just grinding away.”
Alex De Vaughn and Keshishian added a goal in the third period, both assisting on each other’s goals along with help from Bronze (Keshishian’s goal) and Nikkel (De Vaughn’s). In the end, SRJC won 6-2.
In two games against COC last year and Thursday night’s win, the Polar Bears have outscored the team 26-6, with two games left to play this season. Despite a clear offensive swing in SRJC’s favor, the Polar Bears know it could be anyone’s game and are concentrating on what they need to do to come out victorious.
“We need to come out hard and fast tomorrow, hit them early and often,” Waldron said. “They [COC] don’t want to lose two in a row in their barn, but if we play our system, we’ll be coming out with another win.”
The Polar Bears will face COC at 7:30 p.m. Friday night before finishing their road trip at 9 p.m. Saturday against CSU Fullerton’s Division II team.
The SRJC Polar Bears are currently preparing for the 2014-15 hockey season with much anticipation for another successful and fulfilling year. The success of the season is credited largely to the sponsors, who lend their names and financial support to the team. By participating as a sponsor, organizations will benefit from extended exposure through media campaigns and promotional efforts directed toward the supporters of the SRJC Ice Hockey Club. The Polar Bears offer four unique sponsorship packages so organizations can select the level of participation that best meets a variety of business needs
If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the SRJC Ice Hockey Club please click here to see our marketing guide.
Before the official start of the ACHA season, SRJC Hockey will head out on the road for a few tune up games against some stiff WSHL competition. These games will serve as “extra practices” as the team looks to find its bearings since setting the official roster in late August.
This season 28 skaters will don the SRJC jersey, with an even mix of returning and rookie players.
Last year’s points leader Josiah Nikkel tops an impressive list of forwards that includes goal leaders John Keshishian and Chris Whitten. Sophomores Jackson Waldron and Steve Wolmarins look to make a full-season impact this year, as does Sam Davis in his switch over from the blue line. SRJC will rely on these veterans to provide leadership to the 12 new players who round out the position.
De facto captain Blake Johnson will once again lead the defensemen, with the hard-hitting Alex De Vaughn, sophomore standouts Eric Zagacki and Brandon Bronze and new players Colin Ridenour and Jonathan Durrell.
While a few familiar faces are gone, fans will see Travis LaBrucherie and Dominic Jones return to the ice. Jones will see significant time in the net, pairing with veteran goaltender Jacob Pavsek and the newly acquired Dylan Farinacci.
SRJC also has a change at the helm, as long-time head coach Tom Billeter repositions as general manager and last year’s assistant coach Mike Kovanis takes over lead. Mike Bodulow will also return for a second year as assistant coach, and is optimistic about the new roster and upcoming season.
"I'm pleasantly surprised to see such a significant number of young and promising players who've turned out for the JC this year,” Bodulow said. “I can't wait to see what they bring to the table once the rust wears off and we start playing some ACHA competition."
The Polar Bears will take on the Tahoe Blue this weekend and the South Oregon Spartans the next before kicking off its official home season at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Snoopy’s Home Ice against UC Berkeley.
For a full roster list, please click here.
The 2014-15 season is chalk full of marquee matchups and high-stakes games. With many of these key contests outside the comfy confines of Snoopy’s Home Ice, the SRJC Polar Bears need to figure out only one thing before they head out of the road: how fans can come along for the ride?
From today until noon Sept. 20, SRJC asks fans to participate in an online survey to find out how the team can keep fans tuned in from the first puck drop to the last. The nine-question survey asks fans about what types of content they’d like to see, how they would like to be updated, and how SRJC can improve fan experience as a whole.
As a thank you for taking the survey, participants are automatically entered to win a $25 Visa Gift Card. A winner will be chosen at random prior to SRJC Hockey’s home opener on Sept. 20. The winner will be announced via the team’s Facebook page and emailed instructions on how/when to pick up the reward.
The Polar Bears want fans with them on every step of their journey to the national stage and ask all fans to take and share the survey. Follow the survey link and let the SRJC hockey team know how to keep you in on the action all season long. CLICK HERE to take the survey.
Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TBXWXMN