San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Aztecs hockey completes sweep over Oregon with 3-0 win in season finale

SDSU held down home ice against the Ducks to cap off their second ACHA Division I season
Soraya Morgan
San Diego State goalie Garrett Fuller makes a save through traffic with an attempted deflection by Oregon forward Nick Slayton on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Kroc Center Ice. Fuller made 40 saves to earn his second-straight shutout in the Aztecs’ 3-0 win over the Ducks.

The Aztecs hockey team followed up a 7-0 victory on Friday with another shutout, taking down Oregon 3-0 on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Kroc Center Ice.

SDSU (8-14-1) hosted Hockey Night in San Diego, a celebration of youth hockey in the surrounding area. After a ceremonial puck drop featuring a group of Aztec hockey alumni, it was time for the final game of the Aztecs’ 2023-24 campaign.

The matchup began with both goaltenders being tested early. SDSU goaltender Garrett Fuller turned aside the first few shots in the game, which were brought on early by Oregon (7-14-0). On the other end, Oregon goaltender Henry Bradford turned aside some point-blank opportunities by the Aztecs.

An early theme in the game was the physicality between the two teams, which started with a huge neutral zone hit by defenseman Lucas Belling. Shortly after, a scuffle broke out between forward Sean Devaney and Oregon defenseman Keegen Kemper. Both players received fighting majors and ejections as a result.

Though their time in the game was short, they lit a spark in the packed Kroc Center crowd, which continued throughout the game.

Playing through the emotions of the game was a key part of SDSU’s success in the evening.

“They were trying to get in our heads and rattle our guys…We asked them to kind of get above it and not muck into it,” said coach Bateman. “But, that said… they gotta do what they need to do and they know that Oregon’s a physical team and they weren’t about to back down from it.”

Both teams garnered chances to close out the first period, but neither were able to find the back of the net. The Aztecs had the lone power play of the period but did not make anything of it.

Following the intermission featuring the star attraction of local mites, the Aztecs entered the second period with the next goal being a critical one. Fuller turned aside multiple early Oregon chances, including a sprawling rebound save.

“You just kinda read the play the best you can and then you just kinda rely on muscle memory and reactions to do them,” Fuller said regarding these constant backdoor stops. “We did a great job in front getting guys away from the net.”

The game did not stay tied for very long in the second, thanks to a short-side snipe by forward Marcus Kim. Kim’s shot, assisted by forward Luke Desmarais and defenseman Sean Yeo, got the crowd rocking and handed momentum to SDSU.

Special teams and goaltending became an emphasis in the remainder of the period.

SDSU killed two Oregon power plays, highlighted by strong goaltending from Fuller. Oregon then killed an SDSU powerplay and had a breakaway coming out of the box, which was rejected by Fuller, who then slid across to deny a rebound opportunity.

The Aztecs applied late pressure, but were not able to extend on their 1-0 lead after two periods.

SDSU applied early third period pressure, which paid off quickly. A blue-line shot from defenseman Braden Mayer found its way into the net at the 1:38 mark. Forward Brandon Grant assisted on the play as well as Desmarais, tallying his second of the night.

Just like the game started, there was chippiness and after-whistle scrums throughout the third period. Chirping and shoving between the two teams continued throughout, but the Aztecs remained composed.

As the period was around its halfway point, defenseman Cam Henderson sent a breakout pass to Belling. He then launched it through the neutral zone to the tape of the team’s leading goal scorer, forward Mason Brown, giving him a breakaway chance that he would bury. Brown’s goal was the dagger, putting the game out of reach for Oregon.

The Aztecs finished the game strong, holding onto the 3-0 victory. With 40 saves, Fuller earned his second shutout of the season, just 24 hours after earning the first in ACHA Division I history for SDSU.

Fuller was quick to give credit to the team when asked about his back-to-back shutouts.

“Both these shutouts are representative of the team game… It was a bit sketchy at times tonight, but we found a way to get the job done, and yeah, I’m just so proud of this team,” Fuller said.

After the buzzer, the team shared a huge embrace around their goaltender, followed by a lap around the rink, saluting fans for packing the rink for the evening and throughout the season.

SDSU will look to build upon the momentum they built at the end of this season going into their third ACHA Division I season. They will be joining the Western Collegiate Hockey League for the 2024-2025 season.