|The Spartans postseason chances hang by the thinnest of strings after coming up short twice in Southern California.
SJSU stayed close with both USC and LMU, but couldn't hang on late. They'd lose 4-3 and 5-2, repsectively to start the trip, before defeating College of the Canyons 12-1 on Sunday.
The trip started with a game against USC on Friday night in Anaheim. Mario Retana was battling the flu, and Eddie Berlin got the start between the pipes. Berlin officially stopped 22 of 26 shots, but he made some flashy saves and even Retana would have had trouble with at least three of the goals. Berlin even contributed on the scoresheet with an assist in the game.
It was USC who struck first in the game, taking a 1-0 lead into first intermission. Back to back goals by Spencer Archer gave the Spartans the lead in the second period, but the Trojans came back with two more to lead 3-2 after two.
Spartan rookie William Hoffman scored his first goal of his Spartan career after collecting a rebound off Trojan goalie Harrison Xu. Hoffman also had an assist on Archer's first goal. With a 3-3 score, the game looked destined for overtime. But with only 14.7 second left in the game, USC's Juho Pertilla scored on his second goal of the game to give the Trojans the upset win.
While a bit deflated after the loss, the Spartans had their biggest game of the season with a Saturday evening showdown with #10 Loyola-Marymount.
LMU's Jack Hyman was on his game, scoring in the first 22 seconds of the first period, and the last 23 seconds of the second period. He nearly had a natural hat-trick as well with a goal midway through the third period, but Spencer Archer had spoiled that with a goal a few minutes earlier.
Schuyler Krawczuk brought the game back within one with just under five minutes left to go. SJSU pulled Retana for the extra attacker, but LMU scored on the empty net to make the game 4-2 in the final minute. With the game decided, the Lions added one more goal in garbage time to make the final score 5-2.
The score was not indicative of just how close this game was. Shots finished up 23-19, with both teams having plenty of good chances. Retana stopped 18/22 in the loss.
With two very disappointing losses, the Spartans needed a win against College of the Canyons to blow off some steam and make the drive back feel a little shorter. The Spartans got just what they needed.
Although it didn't necessarily start as planned. The Cougars actually scored first in the game, on just their second shot, to take a 1-0 lead. It wouldn't last long. From that point on, the Spartans took complete control of the game, with the puck rarely leaving the COC defensive zone. In order, the Spartans got goals from: Brant Haddon, Zach McKeithan, Schuyler Krawczuk, McKeithan again, Ian Seidl, Michael Stivers, Cody Murphy, McKeithan for the hat-trick, Sam Shayesteh, Seidl again, Jacob Hickey, and Stivers again.
By the time the game came to a merciful end, the Spartans won 12-1 with shots 89-14 in SJSU's favor (and honestly, the scorekeeper missed at least two Spartan shots in the final minute). Eddie Berlin had 13 saves in the Spartan victory, while COC's Taiyoh London officially had 77. Even with 12 goals against, that's still an .865 save percentage. Both teams gave him a ton of credit and respect after that performance. It was a fun way to end an otherwise disappointing trip for SJSU.