The Polar Bears are no strangers to the penalty box, but in Friday night’s match against College of the Canyons, they kept their cool when it mattered most and captured an 8-2 victory.
After beating CoC 6-2 on Thursday, the two teams met for a rematch Friday. Right out the gate, the Polar Bears looked a bit lost; Misconnections, turnovers, and a starting line that looked uncomfortable together. But the Polar Bears still managed to end the period with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a Blake Johnson goal and Matt Kiticich’s first goal as a Polar Bear.
“We were just chipping and dumping; trying to keep the pressure up. We were causing some simply turnovers, making simply passes and got it to the point and to the back of the net,” Kiticich described as the setup of his first goal.”
Players came out in the second period looking better than they did in the first, pulling off a goal by Brandon Bronze and Andrew Mason’s first SRJC goal.
“Our play in the first period was chaotic; we didn’t play our game,” said Chris Whitten, who had an assist on SRJC’s first goal. “[Mike] Kovanis [head coach] did a great job in-between periods, and our strategy improved tremendously.”
“We played our style of play in the second period and controlled the game better,” he continued. “Bronze and Mason did a great job getting our team fired up. The talking on the bench shows we’re really becoming a closer family.”
With a 4-2 lead going into the final period, the game was completely up for grabs. The teams traded penalties for 11 minutes before Josiah Nikkel scored a power play goal. From there, the tension on the ice continued to grow and CoC proved the team just couldn’t handle the heat.
In a disputed play in the CoC’s offensize zone, two players collided for what CoC believed to be an intentional hit. No penalty was called and a CoC forward and coach were ejected from the game. SRJC skated with a five-minute man advantage, allowing Jackson Waldron to score and Nikkel to add to more to complete the hat trick. Two CoC slashing penalties also contributed to the Polar Bear’s end of game offensive blowout.
While the Polar Bears scored timely goals, it was Dominic Jones’ impressive play in net that really silenced CoC. Jones performed near acrobatic saves, deflecting 21 of 23 shots and earning save no. 3 on the season.
SRJC outshot CoC 67- 23 in the game and will face the team one more time this season: in the Polar Bear’s November showcase. After nearly self-destructing in this match, no doubt CoC will be out for blood.
The Polar Bears will finish their three-game road trip tonight at 9:15 p.m. against CSU Fullerton’s Division II team.