CSUN’s hockey team defeated 19th ranked Long Beach State on the road, 4-3, Friday night to earn their third consecutive victory. It was also the first road win for the program on the road against the 49ers in eight seasons.
The win helped the 18th ranked Matadors cause to jump a few slots in the American Collegiate Hockey Association standings. The top 12 teams in the ACHA earn a playoff bid at the conclusion of the season.
The first period was evenly fought as both teams exchanged shots against one another. It wasn’t until the second period where the action began to pick up.
Long Beach State got the game started with a goal in the second period. A riffle shot past goal-tender, Vincent Sepe, gave the 49ers the 1-0 lead. Sepe, after allowing the goal, made consistent saves and gave the Matadors hope to get back into the game.
The cycling of the puck was key for the Matadors. Alex Reznikov slid the puck to the blue line to an awaiting Will Lesik. Lesik put the shot on goal and Cam Rorick was there to tip the puck past the Long Beach State goalie, tying the game 1-1.
“It is crucial to get the first goal of the game to get the team going,” Rorick said. “I saw the shot coming from the point. I went in front of the net and put a stick on it to make it change directions.”
This game went down to the final period. Deadlocked at one, any goal was crucial. When the team needed him the most, Eli Berengut helped give CSUN the lead early in the third. Garrett Heftye was able to find Berengut streaking towards the 49ers goalie, and Berengut top-shelved the goalie, giving CSUN the 2-1 advantage.
“It was a really tough game,” Berengut said. “It was a 1-1 game. We were trying our best to win a must-win game.”
Long Beach State tied the game minutes later. A bouncing puck found its way through the legs of Sepe. With 12:30 remaining in the game, the teams were tied at 2-2.
It didn’t take long for CSUN to regain their lead. A minute later, captain Alex Reints and Berengut were battling in front of Long Beach State’s goaltender and the puck found the back of the net.
Just 17 seconds later, Quentin Abaya scored on a breakaway and CSUN extended their lead to 4-2. Another breakaway for the Matadors and Abaya cashed in.
“The puck was able to get past the defender and I just chipped it by,” Abaya said. “I came down and had a really sharp angle. I had to stuff him up top. Luckily, it was a good pass from [Matt] Bushton.”
The game wasn’t over yet. A breakdown in CSUN’s zone left the backdoor of the net open and the 49ers converted on their opportunity. CSUN now clinging to a 4-3 lead, needed to shut it down for the remaining 7:43.
Long Beach State put pressure on Sepe and the Matadors, but CSUN held on for the win.
“It was good to see that they [the coaching staff] had faith in me going into a game that we needed to win,” Sepe said. “I continued to play my game. It’s been a while since we won here. We lost 1-0 last year, so for it was good for us to come back here and get a win.
The win also allowed the Matadors to complete the season series sweep of their rivals.
“Everyone tried their hardest,” Berengut said. “From the fourth line to the first line, everyone gave it their all, played with heart and left it all out there on the ice. We walked away with the W.”
The Matadors (8-7) rose above .500 for the first time this season. The team will have this Thanksgiving weekend off before playing host to Chapman University on Dec. 1.