Ice Hockey Cruising After Early Season Problems

    CLUB SPORTS — The UCSD club ice hockey team is rolling after
    a slow start, crushing its last two opponents. The Tritons faced Loyola
    Marymount University

    on the road, winning the contest 10-4 on Jan. 18 before dominating University
    of the Redlands on Jan. 19 with a
    12-3 blowout victory.

    UCSD currently holds an 8-5 record, reaching that mark with
    a rollercoaster of an early season. After starting out 2-0, the Tritons ran
    into problems, particularly against San Diego
    State
    , losing to the Aztecs twice
    early in the season. The Tritons also suffered tough losses to UC Davis and UC
    Irvine, giving the Tritons a 5-4 record in the first half of their season
    before winter break.

    UCSD returned after the break with intensity, posting a 6-5
    win over Northern Arizona
    University
    on Jan. 12 before its
    two wins last weekend.

    “Our game against NAU and past two games over the weekend
    are the best hockey that we’ve played,” freshman forward Stephen Lockwood said.

    In their second game against University
    of Redlands
    this season, the
    Tritons posted an easy victory.

    “We played well in the game while missing three of our top
    scorers,” junior captain Ken Yamashita said.

    UCSD started out strong against LMU, scoring four straight
    goals before the Lions could answer back. The Tritons led for the entire game,
    never allowing LMU a chance to come back in the contest.

    “LMU is a Division II team and we beat them,” Yamashita
    said. “The win should give us a boost in rankings.”

    Junior forward Chris Bachman had a team-high four points in
    the game, including a hat-trick. Sophomore forwards Kenny McCubbins and Michael
    Frederick added three points each.

    Bachman’s return to the team is one reason why UCSD has had
    greater success as of late. Bachman came back to the team recently after
    missing the first half of the season.

    “Bachman returned from playing junior hockey out east,”
    Yamashita said. “He has been one our top-caliber players since his freshman
    year.”

    In addition to Bachman’s return, the team’s younger members
    have also become more comfortable playing with each other, ironing out kinks
    that nagged the team earlier in the season.

    “Our team chemistry is great and we’re all comfortable with
    each other,” Lockwood said. “We trust each other on the ice and have really
    bonded.”

    According to Yamashita, there was confusion early in the
    season because of the players’ and coaches’ limited experience working
    together, which hindered the Tritons in the early games.

    “We got a lot of problems and confusions straightened out
    and have been able to relax and concentrate,” Yamashita said.

    While relaxing is important, UCSD is now focusing on the
    postseason.

    “Our goals are to get a high seed in the playoffs and make
    [it] into the top four teams in our region so that we can go to nationals,”
    Lockwood said.

    UCSD will next face UC Irvine on Jan. 25. The last time
    these two teams squared off the Tritons took a 7-4 loss to the Anteaters on
    Nov. 30 at Irvine. UCSD will follow
    up that game against Fresno State
    on Jan. 26.

    “We have a debt to settle with Irvine,”
    Yamashita said. “It’s definitely a winnable game. We need to come out strong
    and beat them. We also have a debt to settle with Fresno
    because of last year’s hard, physical game against that team. We won that game
    but [Fresno] doesn’t respect us as
    a team.”

    Readers may contact Janani Sridharan at [email protected].

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