Spartan head coach Ron Glasow said this game was a lot different than the December 4th championship match for the Gold Rush Tournament title, which SJSU won 7-5 in a closely contested battle in San Jose.
“The (Berkeley Iceland) ice has a lot to do with it - and Andy Whiteside,” Glasow said. “The last game we played (Whiteside) was hurt with a shoulder injury so he didn’t play – he makes a big difference. And the ice here is wavy and hilly and tough to play on, but I think our speed is much better than theirs and a bigger ice surface works to our advantage.”
SJSU Captain Ray Kellam said the team was still fired up after their big two-game weekend against the 5th ranked Brigham Young University Icecats.
The Spartans lost their lead to BYU within the final minutes of play on both nights – the first producing a 5-5 tie, the latter a heartbreaking 5-4 loss.
“We played well against BYU – we were just kind of upset,” Kellam said. “We played up to BYU’s level and then just stayed at that level to play Cal. We didn’t stoop down to Cal’s level.”
In the opening period of Thursday night’s match-up, for nearly 15 minutes both netminders remained perfect in the paint as Cal’s Brad Buss and SJSU’s Joe Best kept the puck at bay.
It wasn’t until 14:23 of the first period when Cal’s Sean Haq and SJSU’s Jeff Mattern were each assessed two minutes for slashing that the pace quickly turned in favor of the visiting team.
With 1:26 of four-on-four action remaining, veteran forward Adam Dekeyral put the Spartans on the board.
With 2:55 left on the clock, the Spartans were down a man after being dealt a boarding infraction, but less than 15 seconds into the penalty kill Cal’s Amir Moazeni was hit with a slashing minor.
A return to four-on-four action saw Dekeyral netting his second goal of the night on a drop pass from Kelly Spain to put the Spartans up 2-0 before the second.
Less than four minutes into the middle frame, the Golden Bears drew within one after blueliner Jeff Murphy dished the puck to winger Francois Pellerin who beat Best stick side with a shot to the upper corner of the cage.
Minutes later, a San Jose turnover in their own zone nearly cost them the lead as winger Doug Fraleigh’s slap shot rang hard off the inside goal post and deflected back out toward the point.
SJSU quickly regained their two goal lead as Spain notched another point with his first goal at 12:29, which would stand as the game winner by night’s end.
Spain said the freshman D-man Zach Glasow had dumped the puck into the zone, which Cal was unable to clear.
“The Cal defenseman was bringing it up, but he had his head down and stumbled the puck right in front of me and he was the last guy back,” Spain said. “I just picked it up right in front of the net - it was a wide open.”
The Spartans top line struck next when Captain Kellam fed a perfect pass to linemate Sean Scarbrough for the one-timer – a top shelf tally that popped the water bottle.
Two minutes later freshman Jeff Mattern would nearly mimic Scarbrough’s goal, connecting top shelf on a pass from veteran forward John Barney to provide the Spartans with a four goal lead going into the final 20-minutes.
At the start of the third period, Whiteside toppled Cal’s top playmaker Sean Haq with a hard check against the neutral zone boards. A minute later, Cal D-man Chase Krieger dropped freshman Skyler Yu to the ice.
But on the same shift Yu still managed to get the puck to forward Michael Villalobos who connected with the Spartans sixth goal.
Villalobos said the play started with veteran Max Ramsey.
“(Ramsey) dug it up in the corner and I let him free, he broke it out to me and I passed it up to Skyler (Yu) and Skyler went wide with speed and just centered it and the goalie just didn’t have a chance,” Villalobos said. “I hit it right in the middle on his glove side. Just went across the crease, tapped it in on the perfect pass,” Villalobos said.
The sophomore forward also noted it had been a while since the last time he scored a goal.
“It’s a big load of the shoulders so hopefully I can keep it going’ for tomorrow (against Palmer),” Villalobos said.
With less than ten minutes remaining in the game, Scarbrough walked in on Buss alone to slip the puck past the netminder’s left leg pad for a 7-1 Spartan lead.
Seconds later, a scuffle in the corner boards of the SJSU defensive zone resulted in Cal captain Chris Dang and center Justin Edwards heading to the penalty box while Scarbrough sat down for the Spartans.
With 1:36 remaining on San Jose State’s power play, Spain registered his second goal to cap off the visiting team’s tallies.
Spain said his second goal was all Ray (Kellam).
“Kellam shot it, it rebounded right out in front of me, their goalie was out of position – right into the net,” Spain said.
At 14:25, Scarbrough almost slipped past the Cal D for another breakaway, but his effort was thwarted by 6’2” Krieger has he successfully pushed San Jose’s point leader off the puck.
The Golden Bears’ second and final goal of the night began with left winger Steve Polchinski getting the puck to Moazeni who then found Haq stationed on the doorstep for the top line’s only goal of the contest with 4:15 remaining on the clock.
Cal would have one more power play opportunity to try and chip away at the Spartans six goal lead after Whiteside was sent to the sin bin on a slashing infraction with 2:50 left in the third.
However, Cal was unable to convert with the man advantage and failed to register another goal before the final horn sounded to end the match, with the Spartans out shooting the Bears 42-24.
SJSU’s biggest game of the year is set for Saturday at home against 3rd ranked Utah State, but they have to face a gritty Palmer squad first, which doesn’t have the San Jose State Captain too thrilled.
“We don’t want to play Palmer,” Kellam said. “The Utah State game has our season riding on it and Palmer is nothing. Ron (Glasow) is planning to sit a few guys and anyone who’s ever sat on the sidelines is going in.”
Cal hosts the Utah State Aggies Friday, 10:45pm at Berkeley Iceland as the SJSU Spartans face off against former cross town rival Palmer College, 7:45pm at Logitech Ice Center. San Jose then goes on to host the Aggies on Saturday at 8:15pm for a chance to resolidify their claim on the No. 4 position in the West with a much needed victory.
SJSU Win Big in Berkeley 8-2 Over Cal, Spartans sweep the four game series
By A. Sheldon