Crash Course: Spartans back in business

San Jose State started the second semester with two wins over College of the Canyons. Now they'll face a major test on their final road trip of the regular season.

With six weeks away from the ice, one would expect the #7 Spartans to stumble a bit before shaking off the rust. That's exactly what happened against the College of the Canyons Cougars. Back in the friendly confines of Sharks Ice, any home-ice advantage the Spartans had was quickly stripped away against the Cougars.

Midway through the first period, SJSU was trailing 2-0 to a team from ACHA D3, a full division below them. Although they were missing a combined ten players compared to their last game, the makeshift lineups finally gained a foothold. The temporary top line of Kyle Dutra and second line wingers Ian Seidl and Mason Console were tearing apart the competition. Those players ended up being involved in 7 different Spartan goals, and combined for 13 points.

"Our whole unit was just dominant," said Ian Seidl. Seidl ended up with a hat trick and two assists in the first game. He and Console have good chemistry from working together in the past, and they were able to easily slide Kyle Dutra in at center. "Anyone can play with him. He's always in the right spot at the right time."

Once the lines got going, the Spartans were able to pull away to a 9-5 victory. Not the best night for Spartan goaltender Mario Retana, who allowed 5 goals on 32 shots, but that would all change on Saturday. In the rematch, Retana made some huge saves and ended up stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced.

Saturday night was a very different type of game. Whereas Friday's game was an offensive blitz for both sides, Saturday was very tightly contested for quite a while. A first period power play goal by SJSU's Christian DeJesus was the only goal for the first forty-five minutes of play.

"They were in it, and we kind of let them have a chance to be in it with us," said defenseman Christian Rendino. "It wasn't until the second half of the game that we kind of picked it up and started taking a little control and getting our momentum back." Just as they had done in the first game, SJSU was able to finish strong.

That's thanks in part to a power play that seems to have finally gotten its groove back. The Spartans ended up with 4 power play goals in the third period, finishing 7 for 11 on the man-advantage for the weekend. The Cougars did end up scoring two in the third as well, but it was too late, and San Jose State was victorious 7-2.

It was good for the Spartans to get their feet back under them with a couple of wins to start the semester, but the real test for this team comes this weekend. The Spartans will head down to So-Cal to face three in-state rivals. First up in #8 San Diego State. The Aztecs are led by prolific scorer Kevin Vaughan (brother of former Spartan Robbie Vaughan), who has been a one-man wrecking crew, averaging nearly two points per game.

"We need to have a really big first game in San Diego, that's for sure," said Seidl. His teammate agrees. "It starts off big. I think the first game is our most important one, and we'll try to get the momentum rolling from there," said Rendino. "Three W's is important here."

The Spartans will look to keep the second semester momentum headed in the right direction with three games this weekend. They'll start with #10 San Diego State on Friday night at 9 pm from the KROC Arena in San Diego. From there, they'll move on to face #8 Loyola Marymount at 5:45 pm on Saturday. It will be the rubber match in the season series after splitting with the Lions earlier in the year in San Jose. Finally, the Spartans wrap up their roadie with another game against a familiar foe, College of the Canyons. The Cougars will look for revenge on their home rink, Sunday at 11 am. All three games will be broadcast online via Black Dog Enterprises.

Fight on, Spartans!