It’s the official end of the 2013-14 season as SRJC’s spring semester ends, and despite a grueling playoff end in February it was still an incredible season for the Polar Bears.
The Polar Bears had high hopes this last season: a winning record, a division title, a national championship. But SRJC’s 7-2 loss to Robert Morris University in the first round of the ACHA Regionals playoffs Feb. 21, ended the team’s goal of getting to play on the national stage. Despite that disheartening loss, it capped arguably the best season the club has ever had.
After winning the PCHA championship to end the previous season, the Polar Bears entered this year’s competition with 23 healthy players and a newfound confidence. SRJC bolted out the gate, winning every game in September and October before suffering their first two losses on a grueling four-game weekend road trip. The team tried to bounce back against Division II rival San Jose State University, but the Polar Bears lost 5-3 for their third loss of the season.
Not liking the sting of defeat, the Polar Bears took a new attitude into November, beating the new club from San Francisco State University and sweeping the Wine Country Collegiate Classic. A complete turnaround from the year before when SRJC lost three straight games in its showcase, the Polar Bears leveled rival UC Davis, College of the Canyons and beat no. 3 ranked University of Northern Colorado. The WCCC got the Polar Bears back on track, both physically and mentally.
The team broke for winter in early December, winning its final two games of 2013 with impressive double-digit victories over San Jose State DIII (2-1) and San Francisco State (17-3). SRJC returned in the new year with a different look, but the same dominating play. It beat out the rest of the regular season with an overall record of 19-3.
With a smaller squad heading into postseason play, the odds were stacked against the Polar Bears. But that didn’t stop them from taking down Sacramento State University on day one of the PCHA Tournament, and forcing a forfeit from Santa Clara University in the championship game. The Polar Bears brought home the Adams Cup for the second consecutive year, sweeping their division rivals for a perfect PCHA record.
Alas, that postseason win would be it for SRJC this year. A terrible first period in game one of the ACHA Regional Tournament, doomed the Polar Bears and sent them back home without a bid to nationals. Still, as the no. 8th ranked team in the ACHA’s DIII, SRJC is a forced to be reckoned with.
The Polar Bears outscored their opponents 216-67, with 11 double-digit victories and an undefeated record in the PCHA.
Top skater Josiah Nikkel lead the team with 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists), with four shorthanded goals and two gamer winners. Chris Whitten, Adam Johnson and John Keshishian followed closely with 45, 44 and 43 points, respectively.
Dylan Dixon and Jimmy Reed lead all rookies, with 40 points (Dixon) and 35 points (Reed).
The SRJC’s goaltenders were nothing short of amazing throughout the season, as Chris Tomaszewski and Jacob Pavsek combined impressively throughout the year. Rookie Troy Tennison was among the top goalies in the ACHA DIII most of the year, before being sidelined in January.
The combination of all players, and strong leadership both on and off the ice, helped SRJC make this one for all to remember.
With the season done for the year, the club is tirelessly preparing for next year’s competition. Already, the recruitment process is looking optimistic and players are committed to being the best in all aspects.
Fans are encourage to check the team’s website and social media sites during the offseason for updates and information about the club and next season.
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.
Omaha, Nebraska was the location of the 2011 ACHA Pacific Regional Tournament. The ACHA Pacific Regional Tournament is an 8 team, playoff style, single elimination tournament with only 2 teams advancing to the national tournament. The tournament featured the 3rd through 10th ranked ACHA teams in the pacific region (in ranking order); Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, University of Colorado, Cal State Northridge, University of Iowa, Santa Rosa Junior College, South Dakota State University, and Northern Arizona University.
In the first round, the #8 SRJC Polar Bears upset the heavily favored #5 University of Colorado by a score of 5 to 4. The game featured back and forth action with both team countering each goal with another. The SRJC Polar Bears had goals from John Keshishian, Errol Garcia, Bryan Vrba, and 2 goals from Kurt Jones including the game winner. Goaltender Danny Roy played incredible, making 45 saves. The Polar Bears are only the second team in history to defeat a # 5 ranked team in the first round of the regional tournament.
With the first round victory, the Polar Bears advanced to the final round of the regional tournament with a matchup against #3 ranked Iowa State University. The Polar Bears came out flat for the first 30 minutes of the game, woke up for the last 30 minutes with good play, but the damage was done as Iowa State University scored 5 goals against the sleeping Polar Bears. “If you take your game down for any period of time against a team as fast and as disciplined as Iowa State, they’ll capitalize and make you pay for it,” remarked Coach Tom Billeter. SRJC was unable to pull off a second upset and lost with a final score of 5 to 3.
Despite not advancing to the national tournament, the Polar Bears had an extremely successful season and have turned many heads in the ACHA. By making it to the final round of the regional tournament in only the second year of reestablishment, the Polar Bears have proven that they are a strong club that is growing quickly.
The SRJC Ice Hockey team clinched aPacific Regional Tournament berth on
Thursday night when the ACHA released the 4th and final rankings. The Polar Bears, comfortably occupying the #8 rank will travel to Nebraska, from February 16th to the 19th, for the club’s first regional tournament appearance in club history.
The SRJC Polar Bears will square off with the #5 ranked Buffaloes from University of Colorado to kick off the single elimination tournament. This game will take place on Friday, February 17th, at 12:00pm central time. If the Polar Bears win, they will play a second and final game on Saturday, February 18th, the opponent will be determined after Friday’s slate of games. After the first round of games, teams will be matched up based on original rankings for the second set of games. The two teams that win both games will advance to the National Championship Tournament in New Jersey to be held in mid March.
SRJC Ice Hockey fans are invited to skate with the Polar Bear players, and play broomball during the team’s Skate with the SRJC Hockey Team fundraiser on February 4th, 2012, at Snoopy’s Home Ice.
The public skate, which includes free skate rental, will run from 8:15pm to 10:00pm and costs $20 per person, or $30 for families of 3 or more. . Broomball will begin at 10:00pm and run until 11:30pm, cost for broomball is $10. All donations are tax deductible.
Fans will have the opportunity to meet the Polar Bears, play games, shoot pucks at Polar Bear goalie Jacob Fitzpatrick, and have a great time while supporting the team.
This fundraiser will help the SRJC Ice Hockey Team with expenses for their trip to Nebraska for the ACHA Pacific Regional Tournament, taking place on February 17th and 18th.