|The Spartans continued their road to regionals with a 2-1 record on their trip to College Station, Texas for the MLK Showcase hosted by Texas A&M University. The Spartans defeated the host Aggies 4-2, fell to Denver 3-2, and came back with a big 6-1 victory over North Texas.
After a grueling trip to even make it to the Lone-Star State, the Spartans began the weekend against Texas A&M. It was a tightly-fought first period, with the Spartans getting up on the board in the most unexpected fashion. While Keanu Deguchi was forechecking in the offensive zone, an Aggie tried to fire the puck up the ice, only to have it deflect off Deguchi's skate straight back into the net.
Texas A&M came back in the second period with a goal to tie the game. The Spartans quickly responded as Nicholas Matejovsky scored with a big slapshot from the blueline to regain the lead. Cody Murphy and Luke Schneider had the assists on the goal with 2:35 remaining.
In the third period, the Spartans built on the lead with goals by Christian Rendino and Jacob Hickey. Hickey also had the assist on the first goal, while Matejovksy and Murphy contributed the helpers on Hickey's rebound goal.
With time winding down and the Aggies pulling Palmer for the extra attacker, A&M was able to get one more goal, but the Spartans held on for the 4-2 victory. Mario Retana made 19 saves on 21 shots for the win.
Saturday evening, SJSU took on a resurgent Denver Pioneers team in a penalty-filled affair. After a scoreless first, the Pioneers' Taylor Jay gave Denver a 1-0 lead after two periods as the penalties really started to pile up.
Things opened up offensively in the third period for both teams. After Jay quickly scored to begin the third, the Spartans responded with a powerplay goal for Michael Schwartz on a deflection. It was the first goal for Schwartz since returning to the team in the second semester. Rendino and Hickey had the assists as SJSU brought the game to a 2-1 score.
Midway through the third, a strange dump into the Spartans' zone by Denver's David Dredge would somehow ricochet off the boards and find its way into the net to give Denver a two goal lead again. Schuyler Krawczuk scored with 35 seconds left to keep the Spartans in striking distance, but SJSU couldn't quite finish off the comeback and fell 3-2. The Spartans had a combined ten penalites in the second and third periods, stunting their momentum along the way. Retana stopped 33 of 36 in the loss.
After the disappointing result on Saturday, the Spartans needed a big win against unranked North Texas on Sunday morning. Despite being outside the top fifteen in the west, the Mean Green had put together a very strong weekend at the showcase.
The Spartans started scoring quickly this time around, with Matejovsky firing home another slapshot on his first shift of the game. Michael Stivers had the assist on the goal that put the Spartans up 1-0 just 46 seconds in. Cody Murphy would later score on a goal assisted by Hickey as SJSU took a 2-0 lead into the dressing room.
In the second period, Schwartz started a streak as he scored for the second time in as many games to put SJSU up 3-0. In the third, North Texas was able to break Retana's shutout bid, but three late powerplay goals sealed the game for the Spartans. After a major penalty was charged to the Mean Green for boarding Keanu Deguchi, Cody Murphy and Christian Rendino (twice) were able to score on the resulting powerplay. SJSU took the game by a 6-1 final score.
Retana had 21 saves in the victory. Christian Rendino had 4 points in the game, including 2 goals, giving him the team lead with 17.