Matadors face red-hot Cowboys

Kendall Capps

 The Matadors will put their 14-game winning streak on the line when they face Wyoming this Saturday night. Photo Credit: Christiaan Patterson / Contributing Photographer
The Matadors will put their 14-game winning streak on the line when they face Wyoming this Saturday night. Photo Credit: Christiaan Patterson / Contributing Photographer

The Cal State Northridge hockey team has a gigantic clash this Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. against the hottest Division III American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) team, the University of Wyoming, at the Valley Ice Center in Panorama City.

Northridge is 14-1 on the season and is ranked third in the Pacific division.

No. 6 Wyoming has recently beaten No. 1 College of the Canyons and No. 2 the University Colorado. Now the Cowboys are going for the sweep against the top three teams in the Pacific. Beating CSUN would surely move them up the rankings.

However, the Matadors have won 14 straight games after losing the season opener to College of the Canyons. During the winning streak, the Matadors have outscored their opponents 125-40.

“I think our strength is clearly our offense. Our No. 1 line is probably the best No. 1 line in the country,” head coach Steve Gale said.

It is hard to disagree when the team has two of the country’s leading goal scorers playing on the same line.

Forward Chris Gale leads the ACHA in goals (38) and points (81). Gale’s teammate Anthony Kendryna follows him in second place with 36 goals and second 66 points. You would be hard-pressed to find a one-two combination like that anywhere in the country.

This game against Wyoming could go a long way toward placing the team in position for a deep postseason run.

Last season, the Matadors reached the regionals, but fell short on gaining a spot in the national tournament.

“We set out in our first meeting of the year to make the national tournament. CSUN has never been and with this team I felt that we had the talent to get there,” team captain J.P. Gale said. “This year our goaltending is better, and we have good depth. We are getting some more offensive production from different players that we didn’t get last year.”

Ron Dierkes, Northridge’s starting goalie, is also having a solid season. He leads the ACHA in wins with 11 and has 3.40 goals against average with a .900 save percentage.

New rankings come out each month and with a win versus Wyoming, CSUN has a shot to move into one of the top two spots.

The top two teams at the end of the season receive an automatic bid into the national tournament.

“I’m a coach that feels that if you take care of your own stuff, you don’t have to worry so much about other things, and execution on our part is key,” coach Gale said.