The CSUN men’s hockey team traveled to Oakland this past weekend to play in the ACHA Pacific Regional Tournament. On Friday, the No. 5 seed Matadors lost to the No. 8 seed University of California, San Diego, 9-4. Northridge had better luck on Saturday, defeating the No. 10 seed CSU Sacramento, 9-3.
This was the second meeting of the season between Northridge and San Diego. On Feb. 2, the Matadors easily beat the Tritons, 11-4.
Friday’s game began with a scoring barrage. The two teams combined for four goals within the first six minutes. UCSD got on the board first with a goal by center Troy Miller at 18:10. Two minutes later, CSUN freshman forward Chris Gale evened the score at 1-1 with an assist by junior forward Jason Bobich.
Less than 13 seconds later, and with Northridge on a power play, San Diego forward Casey Gong scored on a short-handed goal to give the Tritons a 2-1 lead. Two minutes later, Miller scored his second goal of the period. Miller, the team’s second-leading scorer, gave San Diego a 4-1 advantage with the hat trick at 7:09. CSUN ended its scoring drought with 14 seconds left in the period with a goal by defenseman Tom Duma. Bobich recorded his second assist of the night. CSUN went into the first intermission down 4-2.
The second period belonged to the Tritons. Just 41 seconds into the period, forward Alex Azuma scored, increasing San Diego’s lead to 5-2. With UCSD on a power play, Gong scored his second goal of the night at 14:04.
Forward Frederick Michael closed the period with a power-play goal at 7:08. The Tritons went into the second intermission with a commanding 7-2 lead.
“Going into the third period down 7-2 is a big lead to overcome,” junior captain J.P. Gale said. “We packed it in at that point.”
The San Diego scoring attack continued into the third period. At 17:42, Michael scored his second goal of the night increasing UCSD’s lead to 8-2. After four unanswered goals, CSUN found some offense. Junior forward Derek Van der Wal scored on a power play at 15:01. Junior forward Ryan Jackson recorded the assist. Ten minutes later, Chris Gale and Bobich hooked up again. Gale scored on a short-handed goal to cut the deficit in half. UCSD closed the game with a power-play goal by center Chris Bachman, giving the Tritons a 9-4 victory. After the game, the players were in “shock and disbelief.”
“We played the worst game of the year and they played their best,” J.P. Gale said. “We just didn’t show up, and there is no excuse.”
On Saturday, Northridge looked to rebound against Sacramento. In the first meeting of the season on Jan. 25, CSUN edged out the Hornets, 7-6.
The first period started slow for both teams. Northridge senior forward Nikita Behm scored the only goal of the period at 6:37. Chris Gale was credited with the assist.
The second period was the opposite of the first. The teams combined for eight goals, with CSUN recording six of the scores. Bobich got the offense rolling for the Matadors. At 16:46, he scored on a power play, with assists by Chris Gale and senior defenseman Waleed Missoumi. Sacramento got on the board with a power-play goal by defenseman Nick Navas to close the gap to 2-1. Two minutes later, with CSUN on a power play, J.P. Gale increased the lead to 3-1. Behm and Chris Gale were credited with the assist. At 7:01, the duo of Chris Gale and Bobich connected for the third time in two days and less than one minute later, Behm scored this second goal of the night giving Northridge a 5-1 advantage. Jackson and junior defenseman Clark Torres recorded the assists. After three unanswered goals, Sacramento closed the gap to 5-2 with a goal by defenseman Tim Kesner. The Matadors fired back 41 seconds later with a goal by Torres, and with 1:01 left in the period, Bobich found Chris Gale once again for a short-handed goal. CSUN went into the second intermission with a 7-2 lead.
With a commanding lead, Northridge looked to put the game away in the third period. At 10:32, the sixth Matador of the night scored a goal, this time defenseman Jose Avilla. Missoumi and Van der Wal recorded the assists. Two minutes later, Behm got his third assist of the night when he found Jackson for a power-play goal. The score extended CSUN’s lead to 9-2. Sacramento’s Malachi Mahan scored the third and final goal for the Hornets at 6:57.
“We played a much weaker team,” J.P. Gale said. “We also played with more intensity, trying to make up for the [San Diego loss].”
CSUN goalie Geronimo Cebrero stopped 20 shots, while Sacramento’s Gokalp Gurer had 22 saves. Northridge’s 9-3 victory pushed its record to 13-9-0.
The Matadors travel to Bakersfield next Thursday to compete in the PCHA playoffs.