After going winless in three games at the second annual Wine Country Collegiate Classic, the Polar Bears closed out November with a much needed 11-3 win over Stanford University on Friday.
Set with a healthy team, the Polar Bears attacked Stanford early; dominating both sides of the ice long enough to put the score at 3-0 by the end of the first period. The team put up three more goals in the second before Stanford managed to get one off SRJC goalie Jacob Pavsek. The freshman goalie went nearly two full periods before giving up a goal; an encouraging improvement from Pavsek’s last game in which he gave up eight.
Goalie Pat Vrba took over in relief of Pavsek and the Polar Bears added to the score. At the start of the third period, SRJC was up 8-1. The Polar Bears kept the intensity up in the period, something that has been a real challenge for the team. When all was said and done, SRJC took its first win since a 5-4 victory over Boise State University Oct. 27.
Several players had points in the game including Cam Davis (2 goals, 1 assist) and Don Coyle, who contributed three goals and one assist in his first game back from the injured list. Forward Josiah Nikkel put up five points, bringing his point total up to 39, and eight points came from the Polar Bears defense.
Now that players are healthy, the Polar Bears are able to fill key spots the team was left scrambling to fill these past two months. Players now have a better idea of what is expected of them.
"With consistent lines and systems, our team is already playing more organized on the ice and it's been very effective,” said coach Tom Billeter. “We're seeing the results we expect from such a talented group of guys. The next few months should be great for SRJC Hockey fans!"
The Polar Bears will take on UC Berkeley Dec. 2 at Berkeley’s home arena, followed by a Dec. 7 match at UC Davis. The team will return to Snoopy’s Home Ice Dec. 14 to play the University of Nevada in the last home game of 2012 before returning to competition in January.
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
The Polar Bears hosted its second annual Wine Country Collegiate Classic November 8-10 at Snoopy's Home Ice and despite a hard effort the team was winless in three games.
SRJC opened the weekend against Metropolitan State University at Denver. Impressive goaltending kept both teams off the board for 11 minutes before Metro State scored two off goalie Jacob Pavsek. Polar Bears forward Josiah Nikkel added to his team-leading point total with two goals in the second period to tie the game.
The match stayed close until Metro State scored three in the third period to take a 7-3 lead. After another goal by Nikkel and one by Chris Whitten, defenseman Alex De Vaughn put the Polar Bears within one with 16 seconds left in the game. A miraculous shot by Alexi Kulikouskiy with 2.1 seconds on the clock sent it to overtime. The game was still tied at 7 after a five-minute overtime, prompting a shootout. In the end, it was Metro State on top, 8-7 (SO 2-1).
The next day the Polar Bears took on the Bay Area Sharks. In this exhibition game between SRJC and the Junior team, three players, defenseman Andreas Rahm, Nikkel and forward David Horton sat out the game due to injuries, along with defenseman Sam Davis who received a three-game suspension following an ejection against Metro State. Without these key players, the Polar Bears could not defeat the Sharks. SRJC lost the game 10-3.
Hoping to salvage at least one game, the Polar Bears closed out the showcase against the Northern Arizona University Ice Jacks. After SRJC scored first with a goal by Spencer Wright, the Ice Jacks tied it up. As NAU added on in the second period, De Vaughn took a stick to the neck and was forced to leave the ice. Forward Jackson Joyce would also leave the game with an injury. The Polar Bears tried to keep the game close with goals by Kulikouskiy and Whitten, but at the sound of the final buzzer it was NAU 8, SRJC 4.
After this weekend's misfortunes, the Polar Bear's losing streak is now at four games. More concerning is the team's growing list of injured players. After losing forward Don Coyle in late September, several players are either nursing injuries or scrambling to fill injured spots.
"When we have eight plus guys playing hurt or not in the lineup, line pairings change, systems change and special teams changes," said Coach Tom Billeter. "When drastic changes like this occur, your team can easily be affected both mentally and performance wise."
As the team's dynamic changes, players know what has to be done in order for the team to move on in competition. Currently, the team is ranked 13th in the American Collegiate Hockey Association with a record of 5-6-1.
"The team has been staying strong and we have kept our heads up," Horton said. "Losing is part of every game. We know what we have to do and that losing this many games is not good for the outcome of our season."
SRJC will finish out the first half of the season on the road with games against Stanford University (Nov. 30), UC Berkeley (Dec. 2), UC Davis (Dec. 7) and Sacramento State University (Dec. 15). The team will keep fans updated on the status of the Dec.14 game, as the San Jose State University Division III team is no longer a club.
The American Collegiate Hockey Association released the preliminary rankings on Friday, which has the SRJC Polar Bears in the 13th spot for the Pacific region. This starting position is 2 spots lower than the Polar Bears’ starting position last season and places them 3 spots out of the regional playoff picture.
Teams ranked #1 and #2 in the final ranking period in February receive an automatic bid to the national tournament, teams ranked #3 through #10 attend the regional tournament to battle for the last two spots at the national tournament.
Click to view the entire ACHA rankings.
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
After two canceled games to open November, the Polar Bears hockey team is ready to get back on the ice as they host the 2nd annual Wine Country Collegiate Classic at Snoopy's Home Ice November 8-10.
Hockey fans will be treated to a three-day showcase featuring the SRJC Polar Bears, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Northern Arizona University and the Bay Area Sharks (a Junior team).
Competition opens up at 6:30 p.m.Thursday, November 8 as the Polar Bears face off against the Metropolitan State Ice Jacks. The remaining two teams, the Bay Area Sharks and Northern Arizona University, will match up for a 9 p.m. game to close out Day 1.
The Polar Bears will take on the Bay Area Sharks at 6 p.m. Friday, November 9, followed by an 8:30 p.m. game between Metropolitan State and Northern Arizona University.
On the last day of competition, SRJC will play Northern Arizona University in a 5:30 p.m. match up. The Sharks and Metropolitan State will close out the weekend with an 8 p.m. game.
The Wine Country Collegiate Classic gives the team a chance to face talented clubs and gear up for the next month of competition before the winter break. The team is confident this weekend's showcase will get them back on track.
"Our showcase provides us with an opportunity to forget about the losses in October, and has major implications on rankings for us," Coach Tom Billeter said. "With players returning from injuries and sharper systems and special teams, it'll be tough, but I think our guys can take a 3-0 record from the showcase."
By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer.
It has been a very interesting month of play for the Polar Bears.
After going 3-0 to start the season, the Polar Bears dropped four straight games including two at Snoopy’s Home Ice to Division III teams, a first in recent club history. Luckily the team ended the month on a good note, going 2-1 on their recent road trip to Idaho.
SRJC lost two games in Colorado before coming home October 13 to face UC Davis. Despite a sluggish start, the Polar Bears kept it a close game. The team managed to tie it at seven when forward Josiah Nikkel scored his third goal of the night with a minute and a half to go. But with 14.2 seconds left on the clock Davis scored on a breakaway to take the game 8-7.
The team suffered the same fate October 20 against rival Santa Clara University. In their Breast Cancer Awareness match, the team had trouble pulling it together against Santa Clara's impressive goalie. Both John Keshishian and Josiah Nikkel scored two goals apiece, but it was not enough. The Polar Bears lost 7-4.
Determined to end October better than they had started, the team took on Brigham Young University, Boise State and Western Washington University in Idaho October 26-28.
Hoping for a surge of energy, SRJC took the ice October 26 against BYU. The Polar Bears managed to garner a 5-4 win with a goal by defenseman Matt Schaben, his first in a Polar Bear uniform.
The next game against Boise State University was also another 5-4 win. Cam Davis scored two goals in the game and Josiah Nikkel's three points on the night brought his point total up to 26 on the season. The freshman forward has put up points in 9 of his first 10 games.
The team’s last match of October was against Western Washington University. Even though the team lost 9-3, things look brighter for the Polar Bears going into November.
"October was a challenge for our club. After a strong September, we were immediately impacted by the injury bug with key players going down with serious injuries," Coach Tom Billeter said. "We played banged up all of October, but we made adjustments and our guys salvaged two big wins in Idaho against good Division II clubs."
Next up for the Polar Bears is the Wine Country Collegiate Classic November 8-10. The team will host its second annual showcase at Snoopy's featuring the Bay Area Sharks (a Junior team), Metropolitan State University of Denver and Northern Arizona University.