Aztec club hockey ousted in postseason play by UNLV, 5-1

by Meghan Lanigan , Staff Writer

San Diego State club hockey has not made a playoff appearance in over three years, but with a winning season under head coach Ted Powers, the team qualified for playoffs this year and made the trip to Utah on Friday, Feb. 26.

However, their season would end shortly after landing, suffering a 5-1 loss to UNLV in the opening round of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s National Championship tournament for Division II.

“Nobody expected us to be sitting at regionals,” Powers said. “I think we did much more than anyone thought.”

Regionals is the first stage of the tournament with the winners moving on to for a chance to compete in the title game.

“We just couldn’t convert,” Powers said.

UNLV scored the first goal of the game with 13:39 remaining in the first period when senior defenseman Alec Snow went into the penalty box for slashing. UNLV’s rightwing Bryden Marsh scored on the power play assisted by defenseman Axle Anderton and forward Cody Williams.

Snow had three penalties in the game, including one for holding and one for hooking.

The Rebels added one more goal with just under three minutes left in the first period when left wing Mitchell Province scored an unassisted goal to take the 2-0 lead.

The Aztecs had four power-play opportunities in the first period, but failed to capitalize.

SDSU came back in the second period when junior center Branden Vara scored on an assist from freshman left wing Aaron Mayer with 8:20 remaining in the period.

SDSU was about to head into the third period only down by one, but with 31 seconds left in the second period, UNLV forward Christopher Jones scored with an assist by defenseman Trevor Ruiz to put the Rebels up by two.

The third period looked a lot like the first for UNLV as the Rebels scored two more goals.

Marsh scored his second goal of the night with 18:34 remaining in the third period with assists from Williams and forward Austin Shannon. Shannon then scored his own goal with 2:28 to go in the game with assists from Williams and center Ethan Montoya.

The Aztecs had a strong 2015-16 season and made it to the tournament against all odds. They have a new coach for the fourth year in a row. Players came and went. The team also has no assistant coach so the responsibilities of commandeering a collegiate-level hockey team fell solely on the shoulders of Powers.

But the team still finished above .500 with a 13-12 record.

“For my first year, we crushed it,” Powers said. “We’ve learned a lot this season. I’ve learned a lot.”

Chemistry was often the theme this season, and on more than one occasion Powers has said the attitude of the players and their abilities were the difference-makers.

With just over six months until next season begins, Powers is already looking forward to what’s in store.