SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA (Sept. 26, 2017): After the late addition of a few key pieces just days before the Polar Bear’ first official game of the 2017-18 season Sept. 23, first-year head coach Nate Panek is ready to officially announce his roster for the first half of the season.
Seventeen players will suit up for SRJC— a slightly smaller roster to begin the year than what the Polar Bears are used to. But with a healthy mix of returning and new players, SRJC is pretty primed for a comeback after the less-than-stellar end to the previous season.
Last year’s points leader David Lundgren highlights a healthy list of 10 forwards. This is his fourth semester with the team, and will no doubt anchor SRJC’s top lines, and quite possibly, defense as well. Lundgren is one of four returning Polar Bears who switch between both positions. His leadership, along with returning players John Zerbe and Anthony Giampaoli, is paramount to the success of first-year players Mike Anderson, Blake Coleman, Auston Ghirardelli, Steven McDowell, Bobby Rogers, Marco Schamoni and Jacob Yaden.
Defense is a little light this year, as the Polar Bears suit up only four men: Matthew Sullivan, Larry Hansen, and rookies Tim Patten and Grant Snetsinger. Sullivan and Hansen, like Lundgren, could easily move between positions; it wouldn’t be surprising to see all three on SRJC’s special teams— especially in high-powered situations. While only four blue liners on the roster is not the ideal situation, the Polar Bears are pretty used to having a small, but semi-strong arsenal in this area.
The Polar Bears will carry three goalies in sophomores Matthew Colegrove, Steven Morton and Miles Kellam. Colgrove and Morton each played their first season with SRJC last year, with Morton holding a .821 save percentage, 7.75 goals against average and 142 saves, and Colgrove with a .722 save percentage, 8.67 gaa and 345 saves. Colegrove spent the entire second half of last season in net, with 13 games started overall; Morton had four. Both Morton and Colegrove are expected to get a majority of the time in net, with Kellam probably seeing more PCHA action.
Having only 16 rostered players each game doesn’t give Panek much wiggle room. But his mentality and approach to the roster echoes what SRJC came to believe in the second half of the 2016-17 season: that the quality of the players on the roster far outweighs sheer numbers.
“I’m really excited about the team we have this season. We have a great core of returning players who have been committed to the program, and added a number of very talented new players to round out the team,” Panek said. “As a group, we are fast, skilled, and will be exciting to watch. We don't have as deep a bench as some of the teams in the league, but the guys have put in a tremendous amount of work at conditioning for the season. As a team, we're ready to reclaim the PCHA [Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association] title, and feel like a spot in regionals is ours to take.”