This weekend, the #6 San Jose State Spartans will wrap up their regular season schedule with two games against the #7 CSU Fullerton Titans. While this weekend might serve as a preview to the upcoming regional playoffs, it will also give the seniors on the SJSU team one final home stand at Sharks Ice.
With a very senior-heavy squad this season, it is going to be a rough summer for the Spartans. The turnover could be as high as 50% of the roster. And it's not just role players moving on: 3 of the top 4 scorers for the Spartans will be gone next year. That includes Sam Cimino and Salvatore Barranco, who lead the team in scoring among forwards and defensemen, respectively.
Another one of those top scorers that will depart in the summer is Mason Console, who ranks third on the team with 35 points in 28 games played. He's also in the top 15 all-time in career scoring, despite some years where he played back on the blueline due to the team needs. "I've played all those positions because I've wanted the team to win, no matter what," said Console. "So whatever I can do to help the team win is what I'm here for."
Console has played 159 games over the past 5 seasons with the team and said he's going to miss the road trips most. "I just enjoy spending time with the boys. They're all my best friends." With the Spartans almost certainly headed to the regional playoffs in Flagstaff, Console will have at least one more chance to enjoy a road trip with the team.
But before the Spartans can hit the post-season, one last weekend remains - and on paper, it might be the closest match-up on the schedule all season. San Jose State is just one spot ahead of CSU Fullerton in the rankings, and could very likely be a first-round match-up. "I think it's a good test for us," said Console. "We're playing them in Regionals either way, it looks like." The way the teams play this weekend might decide who gets the higher seed, and therefore the last change in the playoff game. Every little bit helps.
As for the keys this weekend: "We've got to pound them," said Console. "We've got to dump the puck, forecheck hard and that usually opens our game up for our playmakers after that. But we've definitely got to get on them from the start."
Hopefully, a strong start in the games will lead to a strong conclusion for Mason Console and the rest of the Spartan seniors.
- The Spartans got a boost when the latest rankings came out thanks to their strong start effort in the second semester. They kept the momentum going a couple weeks ago with 2 wins against ranked teams, including a win over then #7 Texas A&M. SJSU just missed the sweep by giving up 3 third period goals to Utah State, now #4, as they lost 6-2. "We showed that we could score with those top echelon teams," said Console. "I think we just need to bear down when it matters most."
- Unfortunately for SJSU, they did hit a surprising roadblock last weekend with the USC Trojans. Unlike most other sports, seemingly, the Trojans are not a powerhouse. In fact, they usually don't even crack the top 15 rankings in the West region. But to their credit, USC frustrated the Spartans by sticking to trap hockey. The Trojan defense was nearly impregnable. "They dumped the puck, forechecked hard, hit us, and got us off our game just enough to squeak out a win over us," said Console. SJSU would fall 2-1 in the first game, and just barely escaped the second game with a 3-2 win.
- With a berth in the postseason, the Spartans' travel expenses will also increase. This is a club team, so most of the money is actually raised by the players themselves. If you'd like to make a donation, or would like to work out a sponsorship, please contact the team. They could definitely use the help.