Knights finish season at Nationals

After a 12-6 season record, the California Lutheran University Knights club hockey team clinched a spot in the National Collegiate Hockey Association tournament in Newark, Ohio.

The trip extended from March 17-20, as the men played against three other teams in the span of two days.

“We didn’t know what we were up against going against those East Coast teams,” Assistant Coach and team faculty adviser Bruce Gillies said. “It was a new level of hockey for us, so we knew that we needed to step up the game.”

In their first matchup against Penn State Altoona, the Knights played their closest game of the tournament which resulted in a 7-6 loss.

“That was a very exciting game—the best game of the tournament probably. And that was with us being completely jet lagged and exhausted from the trip,” left wing Blake Hall said. “That was the highlight of our hockey tournament.”

Later that day, the Knights finished their day against the Union College Dutchmen. Halfway through the second period, a collision near the goal knocked goaltender Grant Yurosko out of the game.

Without any backup goalkeepers, officials allowed former Knights player and current assistant coach Antonio Foreman to suit up as goalie, but the Knights lost 12-2 to the Dutchmen.

The following day, the men took on the St. Vincent Bearcats in their third and final game of the tournament.

With Yurosko still out of the game, right/left wing Jeffrey Roberts stepped in as goaltender.

“It was my first time playing goalie since I was eight,” Roberts said in an email interview. “The team played amazing that game. They kept the puck out of our defensive zone for most of the game and had lots of shots and just peppered their goalie.”

Roberts stopped 20 out of 22 shots in the first two periods, but the team could not hold off indefinitely as the game ended with a 7-3 loss.

Yet, even with a 0-3 record in the National Tournament, the team still remained positive about this past season as well as future seasons.

“I think we did really well,” Hall said. “We had a really good team this year. We ran into some struggles with injury and coaching changes and a little bit of roster shakeouts, but overall, we had a really solid team. To be able to make it to nationals was such a cool experience.”

After this season, the Cal Lutheran Knights will graduate seven seniors, leaving a chunk of recruiting up to next year’s team and changing the future dynamic of the game.

“We formed such a tight bond [at nationals], and everyone was so close to each other, but knowing we have quite a few people who are graduating this year was really hard,” Roberts said. “We are all really sad to see them go, but we are also very excited to see who steps up.”

As the team moves forward into next season, they have nationals to look back on and work toward.

“I think that getting how far we did with what we had was really, really good,” Gillies said. “We finished up first place in the California Collegiate Hockey League for the season and for a while, we were the best record for the whole NCHA. [But] the entire season was fun. It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it.”

Rachael Balcom
Staff Writer
Published April 6th, 2016