Spartan Crash Course: South Bay supremacy

After proving their superiority in the South Bay, the Spartans hope to do the same in their upcoming trip to Utah. But they'll face a much tougher challenge when facing three of the top 10 teams in the West.

The #5 San Jose State Spartans are coming off a couple dominant performances last weekend versus the two other South Bay hockey teams: Stanford and Santa Clara. The team dismantled Stanford last Friday 21-0, before a 12-5 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday night in the last two home games of the first semester for San Jose State.

Things started well for the Spartans against Stanford. Schuyler Krawczuk got the Spartans on the board first, and were rarely challenged from then on. Krawczuk was also the one who capped off the game with a natural hat-trick to make it 21-0. Krawczuk ended with 4 goals and 3 assists.

The Spartans' usual fourth line (Krawczuk, Tyler Hutchings, and Michael Schwartz) got the majority of the playing time and ended up with 16 points combined. It was a nice payoff for the line that has been looking solid the past few games. "We work pretty well together," said Krawczuk. "We just forecheck hard and get a good cycle going."

Before the Stanford game, assistant coach Steven Stichler told me that a game like that would be good for giving some extra confidence to the depth players. And it certainly paid off. Each line looked good. In fact, every player short of Ian Seidl and goaltender Bryan Toma (who ended up with his first shutout) had at least one point.

It was one of the most one-sided games I've even seen, and that includes some pretty bad mismatches in youth hockey. The shots finished 78-8 in the Spartans' favor. Admittedly, it's a game that the Spartans should have won in a blowout. Stanford was 0-5, and only had about a dozen players. But you have to give them credit for actually doing it.

The next night against Santa Clara, SJSU started a bit slow, and Santa Clara took advantage. The Broncos took the lead three times, but the Spartans were able to answer back each time. After one, it was 3-3. Again, though, Santa Clara only had about 12 players, and the Spartans wore on them. San Jose State would finish with the 12-5 victory.

It was a tougher match-up for SJSU, but it was another good night for the depth. "I haven't been playing too many games this season, so it was good to get out there," said Sam Shayesteh. Shayesteh has been a healthy scratch for most of the season, but has shown to me he's one of the most dedicated players to the team. "There's open ice here at Sharks Ice at Gretzky hour. I've been going there six in the morning, afternoons, working out at night time," said Shayesteh. He also said he credits former Shark Curtis Brown, who helped teach him a lot of on and off ice. "It's no secret to why I wear #37," said Shayesteh. All that hard work paid off for him, with a goal and assist versus Stanford and another assist against Santa Clara.

It was a good weekend for the depth players, but there was a feeling that it would have been better preparation for this weekend if the games were more competitive. A tough trip lies ahead for the Spartans when they travel to the state of Utah for games against the #7 Utah Skatin' Utes, #9 Weber State Wildcats and #1 Utah State Aggies.

"It's high altitude, so it may be a little sketchy in the first period," said Stichler. But once they adjust, they should thrive on the Olympic sized rinks. "This team is built on speed, and this is the weekend where we come out and show it."

The Spartans get started on their Utah road trip this afternoon at 3:00 pm Pacific against the Utah Skatin' Utes. They play Weber State at 6:35 pm tomorrow, and wrap it up against the best team in the West region, the Utah State Aggies on Saturday at 6:00 pm. All three of the games will be streamed with video by Black Dog Enterprises.

Fight on, Spartans!