April 5, 2004
INFORMATION: John McElwain or Bruce Battle, (661) 362-3494 or 3432
College of the Canyons Hockey Team Takes State Title
SANTA CLARITA Following a successful 2003-04 season that saw an invitation to the Nationals, the College of the Canyons hockey team had one driving goal for this season: claiming the state title. The Cougars accomplished that feat during the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association's State Championships March 26-28 in a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over UC Davis.
The Cougars entered division playoffs with a strong 14-7-2 record and proceeded to thoroughly dominate the competition. College of the Canyons beat Fresno State 9-3, San Diego State 8-2, UC San Diego 10-0, then downed Fresno State again 8-4 to capture the Division Championship. The win qualified the Cougars for an invitation to the playoffs in Lake Tahoe.
College of the Canyons began the playoffs with a familiar foe: defending State Champion Fresno State. The result was more of the same for the Bulldogs who had already been beaten twice by College of the Canyons as Jimmy Hock scored a hat trick and led the Cougars to a 9-1 win. Jason Feller, Justin Dyke, Jay Sandoval, Andrew McDonald and Ryan Jackson all scored while goalie Shaun Denes turned away 14-of-15 shots for the win.
The second game proved even more lopsided as College of the Canyons dismantled UC Irivine 11-1. Eight different players scored while goalie Matt Crumlish stopped 10-of-11 shots, and the Cougars advanced to the playoff semi-finals.
In the semi-final game, College of the Canyons was surprised to learn that its opponent would once again be Fresno State. Looking to avenge three straight losses, the Bulldogs game out firing, outshooting the Cougars 41-22. But Denes proved up to the task and turned away 40-of-41 shots, while Nick Galeano, Sandoval, Joey Otsuka, Dyke and Jackson all scored goals and the Cougars advanced to the Championship game with a 5-1 win over Fresno State.
The championship game against UC Davis proved to be a defensive struggle. Otsuka scored early in the first period, but that would prove to be the only goal until late in the third period when the Aggies tied the game during a 5-on-3 powerplay. 22 penalty minutes were handed out during the contest and both Denes and the UC Davis goalie made outstanding plays to keep their teams alive.
But it was Otsuka again, coming through for the Cougars with a backhanded shot that whipped past the UC Davis goalie and captured College of the Canyons' first state hockey title.
- The Cougars finished the season with a 22-7-2 record.
- Goalie Shaun Denes was named Tournament MVP by the Cougars.
- Defenseman Jason Diamond has accepted an offer to play for Plattsburgh State College (D-III) in New York. Plattsburgh has won two division titles in the past five years.