CSUN hockey takes two of three in Texas

    CSUN hockey player pictured after making a goal
    Garrett Heftye (5) makes his second goal of the game, gives CSUN a 5-1 lead over Texas State Saturday night at the Spirit Ice Arena in College Station, Texas. (Solomon Ladvienka/The Sundial)

    The No. nine ranked Matadors retook the ice after their winter break and won two out of three games in their annual visit to College Station, Texas.

    CSUN opened the three-game weekend Friday night, and defeated the University of Texas, 4-2.

    Evan Wright of CSUN got the Matadors an early 1-0 lead as Maxwell Goen had the initial shot on goal and Wright cleaned it up.

    “I tried to get myself to the net, and get those loose pucks,” Wright said. “The new stick definitely helps and [is a] confidence booster to shoot out there with some new pop.”

    The Longhorns struck back quickly and both teams went into the first intermission tied 1-1.

    Captain Alex Reints gave CSUN a 2-1 lead in the second period, but injured his groin later in the period, sidelining him for the rest of the weekend.

    “I’m hoping to come back next weekend and come back for the team,” Reints said. “I wanted to jump back out there on the ice, but for the team’s best interest, I knew that it was best I waited and try for next weekend.”

    Head coach JP Gale looked for leadership from other members of the team. Wright answered with his second goal of the game. Texas made it interesting in the closing minutes getting the score to 3-2, but Drew LaGaly set up Garrett Heftye with an easy open-net goal, and the Matadors sealed the win.

    The Matadors then took the ice Saturday and squared off with the Texas State Bobcats. Tommy Pang, who left Friday’s game due to a cut that required stitches, was back in the lineup for CSUN and got his team an early 1-0 lead.

    “I was motivated to go out and play with the boys,” Pang said. “It’s just a few stitches and I didn’t come all the way out to Texas to just play two shifts the whole weekend. Hockey is a tough sport and some things you just got to grind it out.”

    Heftye gave CSUN a second goal as he cleaned up the loose puck after being shot by LaGaly and Eli Berengut. Berengut set up LaGaly late in the second as CSUN was up 3-1 at the end of the period. The Matadors added third period goals from Heftye and Quentin Abaya to seal the win, 5-1, over Texas State.

    “We were able to dominate on shots and on puck possession in these two games,” Gale said.

    Skating into the final game, the Matadors faced off with the home team, No. 17 Texas A&M. The Aggies played similar style of hockey to CSUN, fast and physical, and the two teams would play a classic game in the weekend finale.

    The Aggies came out as the aggressor in the opening period. Bodies flew, pushed, shoved and plenty of penalties were called. Texas A&M struck first, and the Matadors went into the first intermission down by one.

    “This was the toughest that we played all year,” said goalie Brandon Kalvoda. “We showed a lot of heart, dealing with all the injuries, captain [Reints] going down, it was a solid effort and it was a battle of heavy hitters.”

    Levi Bolls, Wright, and Heftye were sent to the box several times for being too aggressive as they attempted to finish their checks. Heftye was in the penalty box a total of three times.

    “I was taking some bad hits and trying to stay aggressive but had some mental lapses and I can’t make dumb penalties,” Heftye said. “When the refs have your number, you can’t do anything about it.”

    CSUN wouldn’t stay quiet much longer. Heftye added his fourth goal of the weekend as Berengut set Heftye up with a beautiful goal, cutting the deficit to one.

    The Matadors got shots on goal late in the period, but came up just short, 2-1.

    “It was a good weekend, but we need to come ready to play because the team that is coming in next, is better than this [Texas A&M] team,” Gale said.

    Though the Matadors came up short against the Aggies, CSUN recorded their 20th win on the season, a school record. The team currently stands at 20-4-0-1.

    CSUN returns home this weekend as they host No. seven University of Denver at 10 p.m. on Friday night.