Not even a championship high could sustain the Polar Bears this past weekend as they failed to defeat San Jose State University once again on its home ice this season. SRJC fell 7-3 to the Division II team Feb. 5 in the final game of its 2015-16 campaign.
Coming off a momentous Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association victory over UC Davis Jan. 30, SRJC was confident it would take the final game of the season series against San Jose State. After all, the Polar Bears took the last two matches — a 4-3 shootout win Oct. 3 and a 6-3 win Nov. 20.
The team looked slightly slow out the gate but kept San Jose from any real scoring opportunity. But a lapse in judgment by Chris Tomaszewski led to a 1-0 San Jose advantage just three minutes in. The Polar Bears’ veteran goalie deflected the puck in off his blocker shortly after a faceoff on the left side the zone. San Jose kept that lead for most of the period until alternate captain Stephen Wolmarans tied the score with a little over five minutes left.
Both teams stayed even for much of the second period, until San Jose scored three unanswered goals in the last seven minutes for a 4-1 score.
“We were all ready to go before the game, pretty pumped to get back out there,” Wolmarans said. “Even after the first and second period with San Jose scoring that first goal we didn’t get down. We kept the pace up. It was tough to stomach those three right before the third. But we were still pretty ready to head into it.”
Being down three goals to enter the third period against San Jose is nothing new to the Polar Bears; twice this season SRJC has tied the score in the final frame.
Tomaszewski was unbelievable in the first 10 minutes, stopping everything that came his way. Only a bad bounce at 9:52 stymied his excellent play in net.
David Lundgren and Max Brownlee then answered with two power play goals to trim San Jose’s lead 5-3. But a series of unfortunate penalties had San Jose on the advantage to end the game. The team scored two power play goals to seal the victory over SRJC.
“I wish things ended up a bit differently than they did. It is always tough coming down to San Jose and playing in this building. They seem to have our number here,” Wolmarans said.
Despite that fact, the Polar Bears can still can still hold their heads high against their longtime rival. This season saw the club’s first ever win in recent SRJC history against the DII squad. Not to mention the shootout win on the road during the Boise showcase.
This final game may not have been what the team hoped for, but the effort displayed catapults SRJC into a promising offseason.
“It is really a pleasure to come out here and compete with the guys, week in and week out,” said team president Wolmarans, who has decided to retire after this season. “We had a full bench tonight and that is promising for the future. There are a lot of guys really engaged, not only in the team aspect but in the growing the club. It’s encouraging to see them put in the effort already for next season.”