|The San Jose State Spartans made a statement this weekend, a statement declaring that they deserve to be in the conversation for the ACHA regional playoffs. The Spartans ended up going 3-1 in the teamís biggest weekend of the year without question.
It all started on Thursday night when Denver came into town to play the weekend showcase, but got in an extra game with San Jose State. The Denver Pioneers looked sluggish out of the gate, and the Spartans capitalized scoring two quick goals in the first period.
With the score 4-1 headed to the third period Denver went on the offensive bringing the game back to 4-3. But Mario Retana would not be beat tonight, making an outstanding 45 saves on 48 attempts to get the win against the highly touted #11 Pioneers.
Friday night the Spartans took on the LMU Lions for the second time this season, having worked a 4-4 tie back in October. San Jose State trailed 4-2 late into the third period when Christian Rendino and the Spartans took over. Rendino scored his second and third goals at 8:19 and 3:47 respectively. Those two goals would tie the game and give the Spartans just under four minutes to win it.
It was Zack McKeithan who would come through on a five on three power-play with just over a minute remaining, netting his second goal of the night and third point overall. The Spartans would hold on to beat their rivals to the south 5-4.
The Saturday night affair with Boise State was the marquee matchup for San Jose State to put on a regionals resume. The Spartans played what could easily be considered their best 60 minutes of hockey thoroughly dominating the Broncos to a final score of 5-1.
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead into the second period, where they would explode for four more goals. It would be the four speedsters who put pucks in the net: Starting with Corey Semmelmayer, Zack McKeithan, Romeo Sandoval, and Alex Cacas who put one home with only 16 seconds to go in the 2nd period.
Once again, Mario Retana was superb, stopping 33 of 34 shot attempts for his third win in as many nights.
The Sunday game was forgettable to say the least for the Spartans. They surrendered three goals in the first period, two goals in the second, and three goals in the third against the same Denver team they had beat only three days prior. When it was all said and done the Spartans did get one past Geoffrey Dohrman, who played stellar goalie for the pioneers on his way to a 17 save performance.
Looking at the weekend as a whole, the Spartans were able to go 3-1. Two of those three wins came against teams ranked higher than the Spartans. The Spartans only need to jump two spots from 14 to 12 to make regionals.
Combining the two wins against Long Beach State who is ranked #12, with wins against #10 Boise State and #11 Denver I think it is safe to say the Spartanís road to regionals is looking up.