In its first season as part of the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association, the SRJC hockey team defeated UC Davis 9-5 Feb. 24 to win the 2013 PCHA Championship title.
The Polar Bears traveled to Lake Tahoe Feb. 23-24 for the PCHA playoffs as the number 2 seed. Matched against Santa Clara University in the first round, SRJC prepared for another battle against the impressive Santa Clara goalie.
SRJC forward Don Coyle scored to open the game before Santa Clara shot back-to-back goals. Alexi Kulikouskiy tied it with seven minutes left in the period, followed by another SRJC goal for a 3-1 lead. Tied at five going into the third period, the Polar Bears scored three more goals for an 8-5 win and a spot in the Championship game.
The next day SRJC faced the number one seed UC Davis, who beat Sacramento State University the day before. The Polar Bears handed Davis its only loss of the regular season in a 7-6 overtime win Jan. 25.
Davis scored first but SRJC forward Josiah Nikkel tied the score soon after. At the end of the first period SRJC was up 3-1.
Six minutes into the second period, defenseman Bryan Vrba shot one past the Davis goaltender to pad the lead. Davis scored on a power play to come within one but SRJC’s Chris Whitten got the point back a minute later. At the end of the period the Polar Bears were on top 7-4.
Polar Bear’s forward Adam Johnson added a goal in the third period before SRJC goalie Chris Tomaszewski let one by with three minutes to go. Davis went with an extra attacker in the final two minutes but couldn’t pull off a comeback. As the clock ran out, Nikkel scored an empty net goal to seal a 9-5 victory.
With the final buzzer, the Polar Bear’s bench poured onto the ice in celebration. Marcel Delagnes, Kulikouskiy, Blake Johnson and Cam Davis accepted the Adam’s Cup trophy on behalf of the team as SRJC hockey fans cheered on. Players took turns posing with trophy, relishing in the team’s hard fought victory.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play and win with. Everybody worked their tails off, and it paid off,” Blake Johnson said. “I’m honored to be a part of SRJC’s first PCHA title.”
With this title, the Polar Bears have a lot to be proud of and an exciting 2013-14 season awaits the club.
“This win is huge for the SRJC hockey program, it gives us something that we can hang our hats on and that nobody can take from the club,” coach Tom Billeter said. “This title is a building block for our next goal, to participate in the ACHA national tournament. The PCHA title is very important to us and should provide plenty of confidence for the club as we look forward to next season.”
Fans have one last chance to see the PCHA Champion SRJC Hockey team as it hosts the annual alumni game March 16 at Snoopy’s Home Ice.