|Above: Mason Console battles with an SRJC Polar Bear in the neutral zone during the Spartans' 5-3 win on Friday.
Powered by Cimino's hat trick & Cacas' 3-point night SJSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Friday. The Santa Rosa J.C. Polar Bears struck back with 3 unanswered goals, but the Spartans hung tough and held on to win the Battle of the Bay 5-3.
The two teams had last met in February when they clashed on the last weekend of the 2012-13 season. In that game it took a late tying marker by Ian Seidl and 4 goals by Sam Cimino, including an OT winner, for the Spartans to earn a victory. This past Friday's game featured another strong performance by Cimino and ended with another Spartan victory, but the game couldn't have been more different than the one in February.
The Spartans came into Friday night's game fresh off their first loss of the season, suffered the previous Saturday at the hands of the Long Beach State 49ers. They looked very lethargic in the opening half of the first period, but luckily so did the Polar Bears who were coming off a 2-2-0 road trip in the southwest. It wasn't until 8:36 left in the first period when Cimino woke up the crowd by deking through a couple of SRJC defenders before depositing the puck past SRJC goaltender Chris Tomaszewski to give SJSU a 1-0 lead.
Cimino would follow that score up on his next shift with another goal, this time with the teams playing 4 skaters aside by way of walking off the left half wall before whipping a shot past Tomaszewski's glove. The two goals in quick succession gave SJSU a 2-0 lead and marked the 5th time in the 7 games Sam has played this season that he scored 2 or more goals.
With 1:41 left in the opening period Alex Cacas picked up his second point of an eventual three as he took a pass in tight at the top of the crease from Nicholas Matejovsky and slapped it past Tomaszewski to give SJSU a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Cimino would complete his hat trick at the 14:11 mark of the second period after a great cross-ice feed from Cacas and Michael Stivers would record his second goal of the season at 8:20 with a seeing-eye slapper from the point to push the Spartans' lead to 5-0. Both of those goals came on the power play, a place where the Spartans were strong in this contest, going 3 for 7.
Spartan starting goaltender Mario Retana, who hadn't been really challenged to this point, finally started to see some action as the Spartan defense started to falter. In the final 5 minutes of the frame, within a span of 28 seconds, the Polar Bears notched two goals to bring the score to a much more attainable 3-goal margin in the third period.
Penalties picked up in the final frame as the teams combined for 12 minor penalties and two 10-minute misconducts, both handed out to SRJC's Josiah Nikkel in the closing minute of the game. The Polar Bears would score once more on the power play at 9:07 as Blake Johnson blasted a point shot past Retana, but it wouldn't be enough as the Spartans hung on for a 5-3 victory.
The win pushed the Spartans' record to 7-1-0 on the season while the Polar Bears fell to 10-3-0. UPDATE: 11/6/13 - The 1st West Regional Rankings have been released. The Spartans sit 9th which puts them in a playoff position to start the season. Click HERE to see the full rankings (right side of screen) and scroll to the bottom of the page for a description of how the ACHA playoffs work.
For now the Spartans look ahead to their first showcase of the season: the 7th Annual Mid-State Electric Best of the West Showcase. The event will run from Friday, November 8th to Sunday, November 10th and will feature 3 of the top clubs from around the West in Northern Arizona, San Diego State, and Oregon. Click HERE for more information and check back on Thursday for a full weekend preview.
- The Spartan faithful had a bit of a scare in the third period as Sam Cimino was viciously hit from behind head first into the corner end-boards. After a good two minutes down on the ice, Cimino was able to get up and make his way off the ice with some assistance. He missed a few shifts but was able to finish the game. Incredibly both referees missed it and no call was made on the play.
- More on Cimino: his 3 goals and 1 assist push his team-leading season total to an astounding 14 goals and 7 assists in a mere 7 games. Cimino has moved into sole possession of second place on the all-time goal scoring list (122) and now sits in a temporary tie for third place all-time in points (238).
- It's hard to be as strong as Mario Retana was in his first 3 games of the season when he pitched 150 straight minutes of shutout hockey against the COC Cougars and recorded two shutouts. He's been a bit more beatable in his last three appearances, surrendering 12 goals, but he's still won all three games and sits at a perfect 6-0-0 on the season.
- With 5 points in his past 2 games, Alex Cacas now has 10 points (including 7 goals) this season. That equals half of his career total (20) amassed over the past 3 semesters of play since joining the team in the Spring of 2012.