Spartans qualify for Nationals after successful regular season

by Mar 11, 2014 7:03 pm

San Jose State wingman Sam Cimino (middle) celebrates with his teammates after tying up the game at 2-2 against USC on Saturday night. The Spartans won 3-2.

Juan Reyes | Spartan Daily San Jose State wingman Sam Cimino (middle) celebrates with his teammates after tying up the game at 2-2 against USC on Saturday night. The Spartans won 3-2.

The San Jose State hockey team is heading to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Nationals on March 21 led by Head Coach Phil Hazelwood in his first season with the team.

The Spartans started off on a high note with a six game winning streak, and the team never lost more than two games in a row during the season.

“Every game is important in this league,” said senior forward Sam Cimino. "You have to win. Even one loss, one bad loss to a team lower than you can make a difference, it almost made a difference for us this season.”

SJSU ended its season with back-to-back come-from-behind victories over CSU Fullerton on Feb. 7 and 8, which was good enough to grab fifth place in the ACHA Western Conference (5-6) and finished the regular season with a record of 20-9-1.

The Spartans then played in the ACHA West Regional Playoffs, where they defeated Texas A&M (4-0) and University of Utah (2-1) which helped them advance to the ACHA national tournament in Boston.

“We really want to go to Nationals and do the best that we can, the best that the team has ever done and make the program move forward even more” Cimino said, who finished the season with a team-high 43 goals and 69 points.

The Spartan's defense also played a big role in their success this season.

“Our first goal, my first goal was going to Nationals,” Hazelwood said. “We accomplished that, but the whole thing about getting to that point is that you have to have pretty good defense and towards the end of the year we did what we were supposed to do defensively.”

SJSU junior goaltender Mario Retana tied for the league's lead in shutouts with four and held a .913 save percentage on the season.

“The last two games at Regionals we gave up one goal in two games so, can’t ask for anything better than that,” Hazelwood said.

The road to Boston is not going to be an easy one for the Spartans as they face off against teams that they have never seen before. Teams include William Paterson, University of Maryland Baltimore County and Illinois State.

“I think we are really gonna key (in) on the defensive part of it,” Hazelwood said. “We haven’t played any of them so we are going to stick to what we do best and hope for the best.”

Though playing against unfamiliar foes is not the only thing on the players and coach's minds.

According to the team’s play-by-play announcer, Jonathan Wold a senior broadcast journalism major, the team has to raise $25,000 to compete in the ACHA Nationals in Boston. This includes the price of ice time for practice.

The team has raised about $14,000 toward the expense.

Without the money being raised, the Spartans would skip the trip to nationals and are risking being suspended from next season's post-season play.

The team is raising money through an indiegogo campaign.

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