The SRJC Polar Bears held their annual Hockey Fights Cancer Cancer Night on October 24 when the team hosted the UC Davis Aggies. The month of October highlights Hockey Fights Cancer, a sport-wide initiative to raise awareness and funds for such a devastating disease.
Polar Bear players were seen wearing pink ribbon decals on their helmets, sporting pink hockey tape on their sticks and custom pink equipment.
Fans were treated to a display of pink and purple lights as the players walked from the locker room to the bench. Polar Bear off-ice staff were seen wearing commemorative SRJC Hockey fights cancer T-shirts, pink dress shirts, pink ties and even pink pants.
The SRJC Hockey Team was honored to have former Polar Bear goaltender David Wattson drop the ceremonial first puck of the game. David’s mom Sharon lost the battle to breast cancer in 2010. Sharon was a diehard hockey fan and never missed a Polar Bear home game. She had a big warm heart and loved all of David’s teammates like they were her own kids.
In addition to the extended exposure for cancer awareness, The SRJC Polar Bears donated 50% of the gameday profit to the American Cancer Society to help fund breast cancer research.
“Without our fans, our community and our sponsors, this event would not be the outstanding success that it is” said Director of Public Relations, Jacob Fitzpatrick. “We thank each fan, sponsor and partner for joining us in support of this special event.”
Not even a late night road game could keep the SRJC Polar Bears from continuing their PCHA domination this season as they beat San Jose State University’s Division III team 15-3 last Saturday, improving the Polar Bear’s league record to 3-0.
Coming off an incredible last-second win over rival Santa Clara University, SRJC travelled to Sharks Ice in Fremont, Calif. to face San Jose State. Stephen Wolmarans started the action, scoring off the faceoff 10 seconds into the game. Chris Whitten followed suit with his first goal of the night a minute later. That 2-0 lead was trimmed to one as SJSU robbed Jacob Pavsek at 15:34 in the first period. Luckily, rookie Matt Katicich scored two back-to-back goals to increase SRJC’s lead 4-1- a lead the team would not relinquish.
Both Whitten and Katicich completed the hat trick early in the second period, and Nikkel scored his first of four goals on the night just five minutes in. SRJC made a change in the net to start the third period, allowing rookie Dylan Farinacci to get his second taste of action on the season. Farinacci saved five of six shots in his 20 minutes played.
Wolmarans (2 goals, 2 assist), Blake Johnson (1 goal, 2 assists), John Keshishian (1 goal, 3 assists) and Sam Davis (1 goal, 2 assists) also contributed to the score.
More impressive than Whitten’s and Nikkel’s multiple goals was Katicich’s first hat trick as a Polar Bear. In nine games, the rookie forward has eight goals, and six assists- leading all new skaters this season.
“We’ve found a good chemistry early this season and are playing well together. Wally [Jackson Waldron] and [Andrew] Mason gave me some great looks to make a play and I'm just trying to capitalize on those opportunities,” Katicich said. “We always manage to find each other on the ice. I'm just trying to do whatever I can for the team.”
Only one minor flaw kept this game from perfection: the abundance of unnecessary penalties, including having too many men on the ice to end the first period. While the team has cut its penalty minutes nearly in half since the beginning of the season, taking eight penalties in an offensive heavy game is something to be concerned about.
SRJC must be cautious as it moves into the next three weeks of competition, as it will face a higher-level of talent. The Polar Bears will take on both UC Davis (Friday, Oct. 24) and Cal Lutheran University (Saturday, Oct. 25) at Snoopy’s Home Ice this week, and the games won’t be as easy as others this season.
“Davis has a few guys that can put the puck in the net if we’re not careful. We know they’re capable of winning games against us if we don’t come out and play well,” Johnson said. “We’ve never seen Cal Lutheran before, so they’re a bit of an unknown. We have to prepare like they are a team that can beat us and be ready for a 60 minute battle.”
The team’s weekend series against PCHA opponent UC Davis and Cal Lutheran University will kick off at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s Home Ice.
Fifty-nine minutes and 55 seconds of SRJC’s match against Santa Clara University Oct. 11 was an aggressive, ugly battle without evidence of a clear victor. But for five seconds- the only seconds that mattered in the game- SRJC proved itself to be the true and rightful victors.
It’s no secret there’s bad blood between the two former PCHA opponents- after all, SRJC robbed Santa Clara of a league title last February in a heated forfeit. It was clear from puck drop this first season matchup was going to be intense.
The Polar Bears were slow out the gate, and early miscommunication looked like it’d sink them. But the team killed off two huge penalties to keep the game scoreless for most of the first period. Only a minor blemish with 51 second left in the frame put SRJC down 1-0.
Chris Whitten didn’t let Santa Clara get too comfortable, as he scored on a power play eight minutes into the second period. Santa Clara answered back, but SRJC wouldn’t back down. With help from Blake Johnson and Josiah Nikkel, Sam Davis found the back of the net to put the score at 2-2 to end the second.
Santa Clara took the lead back 22 seconds into the final period- a lead that again, didn’t last long. Steve Wolmarans scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway halfway through the period to give the Polar Bears another fighting chance. The game looked like it would go to overtime, until John Keshishian forced a charging penalty to put SRJC on the man advantage for the last two minutes. That penalty was the nail in Santa Clara’s coffin as Chris Whitten scored on the power play with five seconds left on the clock for a 4-3 win.
“The winning goal was pretty lucky for me,” Whitten said. “Josiah [Nikkel] and Blake [Johnson] moved the puck on the blue line, Blake fed the pass down to me behind the goal and we had numbers in front of the net. There were a couple big saves by their [Santa Clara’s] goalie and the puck just slid over to me from [Josh] Greenwell. It was one of those right place, right time goals.”
With Santa Clara University no longer a member of the PCHA, the Polar Bears will only face the team once more this season- in game one of SRJC’s Wine Country Collegiate Classic Nov. 6-8. After the sting of four consecutive losses, the Polar Bears expect Santa Clara to come out swinging.
The Polar Bears will take on the Division III team of San Jose State University at 10 p.m. Oct. 18 at Sharks Ice in Fremont, Calif. The team will head back home Oct. 24-25 for a weekend series against PCHA rival UC Davis and Cal Lutheran University. Both games will start at 8:30 p.m. at Snoopy’s Home Ice.
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.