Division I action on Saturday featured some great games and some surprises. Newcomer San Jose State started off slow but got rolling later in the day. Cal Poly SLO, with some great new additions from the San Jose area, surprised some teams. Both of those teams sit in 2nd place at the end of the first day of the season.
Long Beach State defeated San Jose State in their first Division I game 9-0, and immediately after, Cal Poly SLO put up a great game against Arizona State. The teams traded goals in the first period, never getting more than a 1-goal lead. The score was 3-2 going into the 2nd. ASU scored in the 2nd on the power play, putting them up 4-2. That score would stand up despite 5 ASU penalties in the 3rd, including two 2-man advantages for Cal Poly.
UCSB faced Long Beach in the 4 o’clock game – Despite 4 first-period Long Beach State goals, UCSB was able to come back and skate to a 7-7 tie. UCSB freshman Travis Noe put up 4 goals and 2 assists, including the game-tying goal, short-handed with 18 seconds left in the game.
San Jose State next faced UNLV, in another case showing the parity in the division this season. UNLV dominated the first period with 5 goals, but after trading goals in the 2nd period, San Jose State scored 4 unanswered goals to come within 1, coming up just short. UNLV got the win by a score of 6-5.
At 7 o’clock – dual Division I games featuring Long Beach State – Arizona State and Cal Poly SLo – UNLV were played. Long Beach State vs. Arizona State was the rematch of the WCRHL Championship Game from last season. This game did not disappoint as the 2 offensive powerhouses combined for 17 goals. Will Heinze put up 5 goals and 2 assists and Ryan Burrows netted 4 goals and 1 assist to lead their teams.
Cal Poly SLO and UNLV was another one of those back and forth games – with both teams trading goals and entering the 3rd period tied 3-3. The 3rd period was even as far as the shot count goes, but Cal Poly freshman Ryan Newens scored with 1:19 remaining for the game-winner. They would add an empty net goal to seal the 6-4 win.
The 10 o’clock hour featured all six Division I teams. A spectator could stand in the center of the Silver Creek Sportsplex and watch all 3 games. San Jose State was searching for their first Division I win in a great matchup with UC Santa Barbara. Scoring was light in the first 2 periods and we entered the 3rd with a 2-2 score. UCSB struck first in the 3rd with a goal by Casey Wedge, but San Jose struck back with 2 goals under 2 minutes apart to take the lead and hold it for the 4-3 win. Joey Atkins scored the game-winner and had 3 points to lead all players.
Long Beach State is definitely one of the stronger teams in Division I this season, and this, their 4th game of the day, would prove to be a test. Cal Poly SLO opened up with 2 goals by Kevin Middlekauff, and for the rest of the 1st and 2nd periods, Long Beach would outscore Cal Poly 5-2, to take a 1-goal lead into the 3rd. Cal Poly would score 3 goals to Long Beach’s 1 in the 3rd period, 2 of them, including the game-winner, coming from Cal Poly freshman Ryan Newens, which was scored with under 2 seconds to go in the game. Seven players had 3 points a piece to lead the scoring.
Arizona State started strong in the final DIvision I game of the day – with 3 goals in the first. UNLV countered with 3 straight goals in the 2nd, immediatley followed by 3 UNLV goals, immediately followed by 5 Arizona State goals. 2 ASU goals in the 3rd would seal the deal – Final score Arizona State 10, UNLV 3.
At the end of the day, Arizona State, to no surprise, sits in 1st place. Immediately below them are Cal Poly and San Jose State, followed by Long Beach. Both UCSB and UNLV picked up 2 points on the day, so they are not far behind. With the rest of a 20-game season ahead of them, as well as games on Sunday morning, there is plenty of opportunity for all of this to change. This event has shown us that Division I is anyone’s game, and that even if one team looks to be above the rest, the rest are not far behind.
All six Division I teams will meet again in 3 weeks at Huntington Beach Inline on November 13-14.