It was a weekend of firsts for the SRJC Hockey team.
The Polar Bears opened the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association season Oct. 3-4, earning the team’s first league wins and double-digit victories. Four rookies scored their first SRJC goals and the team’s first female player received a point in her first ice time of the year.
SRJC’s thrilling two-game homestand featured San Francisco State University and Stanford University, providing a small glimpse at the competition the two-time defending PCHA champions will face this season.
Friday night’s match against SFSU was a blowout from the second the puck dropped. Josiah Nikkel got it started with a goal five minutes into the first period, completing the hat trick five SRJC goals later. Rookies Ryan Ellis and Josh Greenwell scored their first goals in the period.
With an 8-0 lead, the Polar Bear’s domination of SFSU continued in the second period as the team put six more goals on the board. Freshman Colin Ridenour netted his first goal, with a little help from veteran Sam Davis. Sophie Angel got her first point, passing the puck to John Keshishian and on to Nikkel for a goal.
“Getting on the ice for the first time this season was amazing, I really felt like part of the team. I had so much fun, I think I may have been smiling through my mouth guard the whole time! I had a blast and that is what matters to me,” she said, “There was a little pressure, but it's what I love to do so that made it less intense. I was just happy to get out there and play with my team.”
At the end of the night, SRJC skated away with an 18-0 victory.
Nikkel led with five goals, pushing him past Jackson Waldron to earn the spot as the team’s points leader. Waldron contributed two goals, making it five consecutive games with a goal scored. Three other Polar Bears- Davis, Eric Zagacki and Keshishian- each had two goals.
The next day, the Polar Bears took on familiar foe, Stanford University. SRJC was a little slow out the gate, and allowed Stanford to score first. Keshishian came back a few minutes later to end the first period with a tied 1-1 score.
Parnell broke the tie with his first goal of the year at 1:24 into the second period. He became the fifth Polar Bear rookie to earn their first goal, putting him at a goal and two assists for the weekend.
A day after earning his first goal, Josh Greenwell looked like he couldn’t be stopped in the second and third periods of the Stanford game. The quiet freshman contributed four goals and an assist in the final 40 minutes, giving him five goals and three assists in two games.
The final score was 14-1, with three goals each from Chris Whitten, Keshishian and Zagacki.
SRJC scored 32 goals in the two games, with the lone Stanford goal as the only blemish on a fantastic weekend. While it may be early, these first PCHA wins puts the Polar Bears on track to another successful league season.
“I think with our great goaltending this year, and with all the different threats we have to score, I don't think anyone can touch us,” Nikkel said. “We’re excited to compete for a third [PCHA] championship in a row!"
The Polar Bears will take on dreaded rival Santa Clara University at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 in Redwood City. This will be the teams’ first matchup since Santa Clara forfeited the PCHA Championship game, crowning SRJC the victor.