Despite a near epic comeback that saw back-to-back goals from points leader Josiah Nikkel and rookie Max Brownlee in the last three minutes of the third period, the SRJC Hockey team fell 6-5 to Santa Clara University Jan. 8 to open the New Year.
The team struggled at times throughout the game, scrambling to fill spots left by injured forwards Lane Beliveau and Matt Katicich.
Obvious miscommunication between line pairings slowed the Polar Bears throughout much of the first period. Despite a goal from high in the slot by defensemen Tim Buchter, they trailed 2-1 after the first 20 minutes.
SRJC pulled it together in the second period, better adjusting to the fast play and taking a short-lived lead halfway through. Santa Clara challenged once again, but goaltender Chris Tomaszewski kept it even at three to end the period.
Things started to look bleak again to open the third as Santa Clara scored three unanswered goals to take a 6-3 lead. Brownlee and Nikkel's goals shifted the momentum in SRJC's favor as the minutes ran down, but even with an extra attacker to finish out the game, the Polar Bears couldn't pull off the upset.
The team will get a second chance as SRJC hosts Santa Clara Jan. 9 at Snoopy's Home Ice. Players better understand what they need to do to get a win; part of which includes staying out of the penalty box.
The Polar Bears took nine penalties in Friday's game, but managed to only give up one late power play goal. Their penalty kill shined, while keeping most of the play in their opponent's defensive zone.
But if the Polar Bears want to avoid the weekend sweep, they must see production from their bottem lines. And freshman points leader Evan Hastings, who was silenced in the first match.
Puck drops at 8:30 p.m., and as always admission is free.