By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
The Polar Bears proved the team would not carry its current losing streak into the New Year as SRJC closed out 2012 with an exciting set of wins.
After losing games to UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the team returned to Snoopy’s Home Ice Dec. 14 to take on the University of Nevada, at Reno. Immediately things looked promising for the Polar Bears as forward John Keshishian scored off the Nevada goaltender 12 seconds into the game. Keshishian had three goals each with an assist by Alexi Kulikouskiy in the first 10 minutes. The Polar Bears completely dominated the first two periods, putting up 13 points and keeping Nevada off the board.
SRJC forward John Hutton scored his 50th goal in a Polar Bears uniform to open the third period, making the score 14-0. But Nevada managed to shoot one by goalie Pat Vrba to break the shutout soon after. Nevada added three more goals, but the Polar Bears didn’t allow them to get back in the game. In the end, it was SRJC 23, Nevada 4.
Several Polar Bear players had multi-point games including Kulikouskiy (3 goals, 3 assists) and defensive players Blake Johnson (3 goals, 2 assists), Sam Davis (3 goals, 2 assists) and Matt Schaben (4 assists). Keshishian finished with 5 goals and 4 assists, topping an impressive night for the Polar Bear defense.
Hoping to build off that win, the Polar Bears traveled to Vacaville Dec. 15 to play the Sacramento State University Hornets. The last time SRJC faced Sac State was in a two-game series in September when the team outscored the Hornets 28-8.
Sac State took an early 1-0 lead, keeping the Polar Bears scrambling to get on the board. But with four minutes left in the first period, forward Cam Davis tied the score then gave SRJC the lead with a goal in the second period. Spencer Wright, Kulikouskiy and Conner Harrison added goals to make it a 5-2 game in favor of SRJC as the period ended.
After goals by Johnson and Keshishian in the third period, Sac State took one from Vrba with a little under three minutes to go. But the Polar Bears were able to keep the Hornets from making a comeback. A goal by defensemen Chris Whitten with 52.5 seconds on the clock put the Polar Bears on top 8-3.
“We entered the weekend with a completely different attitude and mindset than before,” said Keshishian, who finished the weekend with 6 goals and 7 assists. “After struggling the last few games we came together as a team, played as a team and the result was two wins we needed. We want to keep that momentum moving into the New Year.”
After a troublesome first half, SRJC looks to keep this current win streak going in 2013. The Polar Bears will return to the ice Jan. 11 to face the Ventura County College.