By: Keshia Knight, SRJC Hockey Staff Writer
Coming off a victorious start to the New Year, the SRJC Hockey Team proved the success of its new “team first” approach as the Polar Bears took down UC San Diego 8-5 Friday night at Snoopy’s Home Ice.
The game did not start out as the Polar Bears wanted: the team struggled right out of the gate and players seemed lost on the ice. UCSD scored twice off new goalie Chris Tomaszewski in the first ten minutes of play before Polar Bears forward Adam Johnson put SRJC on the board to make it a one-run game.
Polar Bears points leader Josiah Nikkel scored on a power play to tie the game in the second period, but UCSD came back immediately with two goals to retake the lead, 4-2. Slowly, SRJC got back in the game with goals by John Keshishian and Blake Johnson.
With two minutes left in the second period, UCSD was hit with a penalty and the Polar Bears took full advantage. Defensemen Chris Whitten scored to give SRJC the lead, followed by Adam Johnson’s second goal of the night with 23.9 seconds left in the second. SRJC’s momentum continued as Spencer Wright and Alexi Kulikouskiy scored in the final period to end it, 8-5.
“There wasn’t any moment of hesitation from our team because we knew we were going to pull it together,” said defenseman Bryan Vrba, who had four assists on the night. “Overall we played well enough to come out with a W and prepare for our game tonight against Santa Clara.”
The Polar Bears will face division rivals Santa Clara University tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s. Only two players, Keshishian and Nikkel, contributed goals in a 7-4 loss to Santa Clara back in October. If SRJC comes out with a win, the Polar Bears will take full possession of the number one seed in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association.
“We have playoffs in Tahoe coming up in February where we plan on taking the PCHA title,” Vrba said. “Without a doubt it should be difficult, but with the roster we have now in place, there is no reason we shouldn’t win big.”