SDSU Hockey Strikes Gold Against Long Beach in 5-0 Shutout


Joshua Frojelin

SDSU hockey players huddle up around the net during their match against Long Beach State University.

by Joshua Frojelin, Contributor

On the heels of a 12-4 victory over the Long Beach State University 49ers (2-3 Independent) on Friday the 22, the San Diego State Aztecs (2-2, 0-2 Pac-8) welcomed back fans for the first time since the 2019-2020 season on Saturday for the team’s home-opener, a 5-0 victory.

Unfortunately, the fans were starved of scoring in the first period, as both clubs felt each other out with low-risk chances early. The fans still had something to cheer about with constant scrums and shoving matches happening after every whistle creating a fun, yet intense, mood throughout the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

Senior captain Derian Theberge noted a fast and physical game “is nothing we’re not used to — we handled it.”

In the second period, the Aztecs were finally able to light the lamp. Theberge gave his team the lead, finishing a puck bouncing around the crease to put the Aztecs up early in the period.

Freshman Michael Eng joined on the scoresheet later in the frame. Fellow freshman Cole Kosowski had primary assists on both second-period goals as the Scarlet and Black began dominating play.

Head coach Phillip Bateman knew his team could dominate. 

“We always preach hard work through all zones… we were just sustaining all the puck pressure in their own zone… we knew that after the first (period) that we had the legs tonight,” Bateman said. 

That momentum continued into the third period. Eng, along with freshmen Ian Stentz and Isaiah Tano overwhelmed the 49ers at the end of the period, as SDSU closed the game with two goals in the last few minutes. The Aztecs also maintained a 16-save shutout for senior goalie Nick Ilvento.

On the team’s shutout performance, the goalie said “our defense was huge today. We did a really good job of controlling the puck in our own zone.. Just forcing it (the puck) out when it needed to be out.”

After two tough losses to back-to-back Pac-8 champion Oregon Ducks, Bateman’s team was able to respond with two emphatic wins. He knew  “coming out of the gate (at Oregon), there are little timing issues. Those two games got us right.” After those opening weekend losses and more practices, “you gain your timing. You gain your hockey legs.”

Next, the Aztecs will face the UC San Diego Aggies, with a more healthy roster. The head coach felt it was important to mention the team is “still missing three very highly skilled top-end guys on our roster.” Even without those key talents, Bateman touted his current team “is already one of the best teams I’ve coached here at (San Diego) State in six years.” There’s no telling the offensive force Bateman’s club could have when fully healthy.

Looking to improve above their .500 record, the Aztecs will need to continue imposing their offensive firepower over another southern California rival. Friday, Oct. 29, fans will be welcomed back to Kroc Ice Center for hopefully another high-energy and lively atmosphere.