Knights play under the lights at Staples center

In the first 20 seconds of the California Lutheran University club hockey game at the Staples Center, senior left wing Blake Stevens scored on a breakaway for the Knights. The Knights had the opportunity to play on the Staples Center ice as part of the L.A. Kings College Hockey Series Tournament.

“I was really nervous prior to the game, but once the puck dropped my head was in the game,” Stevens said. “I skated as fast as I could, scoring my favorite goal that I ever made in my life.”
The Knights took advantage of a Long Beach State University’s player too busy looking into the stands talking to fans, therefore leaving the ice wide open for the Knights to take possession of the puck.

Junior goalie Grant Yurosko stopped a Long Beach counter attack and several more throughout the game.

“It was pretty exciting being at Staples Center playing on their ice, although I am a Ducks fan,” Yurosko said. “It is a lot of pressure being the only goalie since Long Beach had more than one.”

“This is the first year that CLU has been in the ACHA Division II with LBSU after several years of participating in the NAIH and NCHA leagues,” graduate student and defender for the Knights Spencer Votipka said.

Long Beach players started to get aggressive and slammed the Knights into the glass, which is known as “checking a player.” The two teams battled for the puck and after multiple scoring attempts, Long Beach was finally able to put a shot past Yurosko.

“We have a new coach this year, Jerry Toy, who encourages our players to play their game, meaning that each player can focus on their skills that best benefit the team,” Votipka said.

Toy said he knew the Long Beach team’s skill level because he recruited several of their players as a coach with USC’s ice hockey program.

The game was very physical, evident in an interaction between Long Beach forwards and senior defenseman Warren Cutbill for the Knights. Cutbill slammed the two forwards into the glass and was flagged for checking. Cutbill entered the penalty box with a smile, knowing his physical style of play is just part of the game.

“My first impression of them off the ice was that they were a pretty big team, but when we got on the ice, I felt like we were the better team,” Cutbill said.

Throughout the entire game, the Knights moved swiftly down the ice and in strong defensive pairings knowing that Yurosko was their only goalie.

“The whole time, on defense, our job was to protect [Yurosko], since he is our only goalie,” Stevens said. “This is his first season in six years and he had one hell of a game.”

After a faceoff, Long Beach slapped a shot at the goal and claimed that the puck made it in. Knights fans yelled in disagreement since they pushed Yurosko and therefore moving not only the puck and the goalie but also the net.

“It was hard because the nets didn’t have pegs on the bottom, which I found to be odd since the Kings just played and of course they had pegs,” Yurosko said.

In the third and final period junior defenseman Andrew Daehlin gained control over the puck and was able to score. However Long Beach came back to score right after the ensuing faceoff.

At the end of the third period Yurosko was pulled from the goal, giving the Knights an extra attacker.

Despite the hard work and physicality on the ice, the Knights succumbed to Long Beach 7-6. The Knights fell to 2-2 for the 2015-2016 campaign.

“I am really enjoying this first season with the Knights,” Toy said. “I was pleasantly surprised at the skill and speed of our players.”

“We have some very talented young players that I am very excited about. That will be instrumental in the growth of this club,” Cutbill said. “I am very excited about the future of this club as we have gotten better each year and have had great support from our school, its students and our fans.”

The Knights plan to play against Long Beach once more at the Simi Valley Iceoplex for revenge on their home ice.

“Staples Center is a wonderful arena to play in and the fan support was great,” Votipka said. “We look forward to competing in next year’s L.A. Kings College Hockey Series Tournament.”

Sami Steele
Staff Writer
Published October 21st, 2015