The Matadors ice hockey team split a two game road-trip last week by losing to San Jose State 12-2 on Friday, but then beating Fresno State 8-2 on Saturday.
The Spartans looked to be a tough opponent going into Friday’s game because they compete in the more competitive Division 2, while the Matadors are in Division 3.
Similar to the season opener, the Matadors got into penalty trouble early in the game. This time they wouldn’t come away with the win, though. CSUN also had some trouble clearing out rebounds in their defensive zone.
“They (San Jose) made the best out of their opportunities,” said head coach Sean McLynn. “They got us down early in the game and we just couldn’t get back in it mentally.”
The size and physical play of the Spartans might have drawn some of the penalties to the Matadors.
“Sometimes it’s hard to avoid penalties when you’re hitting and getting physical with the other team,” CSUN forward Vincent DePalma said. “Or, we’ll catch ourselves out of a play and have to make a bad penalty to save a goal.”
CSUN goalie Robert Beltrami got the spot in net for the game against San Jose. Despite the 12 goals scored on CSUN, McLynn said that Beltrami played well in goal.
“A lot of that score wasn’t really his fault,” McLynn said. “He made some real good saves and the score doesn’t show how he played at all. We still have a lot of confidence in him.”
It’s not surprising to see that the Spartans were a threat on offense when given a chance. They have several good offensive players, including leftwing Sean Scarbrough, who has scored 108 goals and 69 assists as a Spartan. Those totals make him the third leading point scorer in Spartan history.
“I can’t take anything away from them.” McLynn said. “We did a lot of things that we could’ve done differently, but I can’t take any credit from them. They have a very good team.”
As devastating as the loss to San Jose was, it might have given CSUN a spark. The Matadors bounced back the following night against Fresno State by staying out of the penalty box and improving their play in the defensive zone.
“I think we came together and cleaned it up for that game,” DePalma said.
McLynn said that the loss to San Jose turned out to be a decent momentum-builder for the Fresno State game on Saturday.
“As you can imagine, a lot of the guys were upset after the game on Friday night,” McLynn said. “We feel that we should’ve played a much better game. These guys really didn’t believe that they were that team and believed they were better than that. So they came out on Saturday night and executed.”
The game against Fresno State had some good signs for CSUN. Not only did the Matadors manage to stay out of penalty trouble, but they came together to beat a tough team in their division after a disappointing loss the night before. This would be an accomplishment for any team, let alone a team like CSUN with several new players to their roster.
“I think we just need to bring out our full potential, get the puck moving, and play better as a team,” DePalma said.
The Matadors’ next game is Saturday against UC San Diego.
“I’m expecting a tough game,” McLynn said. “The San Diego teams are always very physical. If you don’t go in prepared and determined, they could beat you. I believe that we have the ability to win, but it’s definitely going to take a strong effort on our part.”
The game against UCSD is the Matadors’ home opener at the Valley Ice Center in Panorama City. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. and admission is free to CSUN students.
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