CSUN hockey team off to 9-0 start

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The 2005-06 CSUN hockey team started off its season with a hot streak and plan on continuing to ice the rest of its remaining opponents before a possible postseason run.

At 9-0, the Matadors are ranked second in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association and have beat their opponents with a plus 44 goal differential, scoring 61 goals and giving up 17.

With the winning record, the team seems to be giving more effort.

“It’s great, everyone tries harder when you’re winning,” senior goaltender Luis Aceves said.

Junior team captain Joey Otsuka said the Matadors’ streak of impressive play show that the players are fulfilling their roles and it makes for a better team enviornment.

CSUN is averaging nearly nine goals per game, an impressive feat considering the lack of experienced players on the team.

“This year we have a lot of depth, with good new (and) young guys,” coach Sean McLynn said. “Our goaltender is great, he is out of his mind. Our defense is also doing a great job.”

The new defensive philosophy and Aceves is one of the main differences of this year’s team compared to last year’s team.

“Our goaltender (is) the best I’ve ever seen since I’ve been playing,” said junior center Andrew McDonald.

Last year’s team struggled and ended the season with a losing record. However, this seasons team has an abundance of freshman and transfer students that have in-depth hockey experience, which is something last year’s squad did not.

“Last year’s team had a lack of experience,” McDonald said. “We especially lacked experience at the defensive position.”

With the new, experienced players combined with last year’s players, the team has the talent and chemistry necessary to help them win games.

Despite being undefeated, the team acknowledged it is not perfect and still has work to do.

“We can work on special teams, on power plays and position hockey,” McDonald said. “We need to work on textbook hockey.”

Most of CSUN’s wins have been by more than one goal, but its toughest challenge was the 2-1 victory over Arizona State. According to McDonald, it was a game that could have gone either way.

CSUN has upcoming games at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 9 and against UC San Diego on Dec. 10, but they are looking forward to the Jan. 26 game against Walla Walla College, a Division II team.

However, the team recognizes that every game is important which is why it is not looking past its game.

The winning streak has players thinking of not just the remainder of the regular season, but of the playoffs too. Going to Nationals in Florida in March would be a test for the Matadors and is the teams ultimate goal.

“If we make the tournament, then we get (to) see how good we really are,” Otsuka said.

The perfect start for the Matadors clears the playoff picture a little, however. The team needs to stay sharp and cannot lose its quality of play through the rest of the season.

“We need more intensity,” McLynn said. “We can’t get too comfortable with the wins. We’re going to play hard every game, as if it were our last.”

In his second year of coaching the Matadors, McLynn also played for the team only two years ago.

“I think the biggest thing is our coaching,” Aceves said. “The coach is a huge difference. He knows the game well and knows what drills to make us work on.”

With practice held at night and the brutal road schedule, sometimes the team feels fatigued, but they have been motivated enough to overcome these obstacles.

“We have drive,” Otsuka said. “With the night practices and traveling, we need drive.”

As mentioned, the team’s next home game will be against UC San Diego on Dec. 10. The Matadors play at the Ice-0-Plex in Panorama City.

“Support has been great,” McLynn said. “Sometimes it really gets rowdy out there. But we can always use more.”

Being the only fast-paced contact sport other than football, the team is hoping more students will visit the Ice-0-Plex and support them, especially since they are 9-0.

“It’s nothing they’ve ever seen,” McDonald said. “Our sport stands alone. It’s the only contact sport (at CSUN). It’s rough and physical.”

For more information on the hockey team, such as schedules and scores, visit www.csunhockey.org

Oscar Areliz can be reached at oscar.areliz@csun.edu.