Davis, CA- The regular season came and went in a hurry, exemplifying the rapid pace of the hockey season. The Aggies finished the season with 6 wins in 16 games to finish 4th in the PCHA standings and earn a spot in the playoffs. UC Davis will face Santa Rosa Jr. College on Friday, February 14th at 9:15 pm in San Mateo. The winner of that game will earn the opportunity to play in the division finals on Saturday against either Santa Clara University or Stanford. Let’s take a look at some of the key moments of the regular season.
Following an up-and-down October, the team went an even 2-2-0 in November and maintained a steady improvement in their quality of play as the season progressed. Despite losing William Teeple (#80) to an injury in late October, the Aggies found a way to utilize enough of their depth to salvage some goals.
The first weekend of November, the Aggies hosted Stanford and UC Santa Cruz for back-to-back nights of action. Previously, the team sunk the home opener to Stanford in a 6-4 loss. This night would grant the Aggies a better fortune, however. Much to the elation of the entire team, freshman Chris Dunleavy (#24) scored his first career ACHA goal, which ended up being the game-winner. Captain Kazunori Machida (#19) then completed the hat trick to make it a 4-0 lead. Stanford spoiled Timur Katsnelson’s (#31) shutout bid late in the game, but the team skated away with a 4-2 victory. The Aggies hosted the Banana Slugs the following night which was a wildly different game compared to the 10-1 win in October. Robert Polon (#18), Oliver Carlson (#17), Bill Zhang (#21), and William Teeple were unavailable to play that night, which made way for newcomer Madeline Frey (#77) to make her debut. The Aggies got plenty of offense but could not get a save during the third period, and Santa Cruz was able to tie it up. In the midst of the scoring, freshman Anthony Goldhawk (#55) scored his first two ACHA goals. With the game tied at seven in overtime, Machida secured the win for UC Davis as they narrowly escaped with two wins for a successful weekend.
With two more home back-to-backs, the Aggies welcomed Santa Clara University for a rematch of last season’s PCHA finals and UC San Diego the next night. Against the Santa Clara Broncos, the Aggies were missing Machida and defenseman Catherine Heyboer (#9) in a late-night special 11:00 pm start time. Heyboer was able to return to the lineup against San Diego the next night, however the Aggies were unable to claim a win in either game. The team put together a strong effort, but there were too many factors to overcome. Katsnelson faced over 70 shots in both games to conclude the fall quarter set of games.
At the onset of a new decade, the Aggies began the winter with a difficult match-up against Santa Rosa Jr. College, a team that beat them handily earlier in the year. That night would be somewhat repeated, unfortunately. The Aggies put up a strong effort, but could not hold the fort up long enough. The team made up for this loss the next night, however, with a solid 5-2 win over UC Santa Cruz.
The team’s annual journey to Southern California featured two games against the UC San Diego Tritons, who took both games in low-scoring affairs. The trip served as an excellent opportunity for many of the newcomers to the team like Kevin Shaver (#45) and Eli Hamlin (#39), as well as returnee Josh Mendelson (#70) to get acquainted and enjoy the company of their teammates. The SoCal trip is always one of the most enjoyable times of the year, and the team is grateful for the incredible hospitality of the Dunleavy, Katsnelson, Mendelson, and Polon families in hosting These games also marked the beginning of a five game goal streak for Polon.
The other highlight of the quarter was Parents' Weekend, a new event organized by the team’s President Robert Polon. Several families came to watch the final two home games of the season in Vacaville. Against Cal Lutheran University, Katsnelson faced his brother in the opposing net. This was one of the most tightly-contested games of the season, and exciting until the final whistle. The next night the Aggies earned their sixth win of the regular season over Santa Cruz, sweeping their season series against the Slugs. With this, the Aggies went undefeated in front of their parents, and who could ask for more?