The UC Davis Ice Hockey Aggies remain unbeaten and sit comfortably atop their division with a record of 12-0.
The Aggies traveled down the I-5 to Riverside for a match against Chapman University (2-11) and came out victorious Friday night. By a score of 16-5, the Aggies extended their winning streak to 11. This game was the first of two on the Southern California road trip.
Head coach Spenser Wagner realized that playing a game following an eight-hour car ride would be challenging.
“We came out really strong,” he said. “From past experience, it can be hard to drive all the way down and play well. But the team obviously has a lot of offense and we won and that’s the most important thing.”
Since many of the players’ family members live in Southern California, the team was supported by friends and family. Senior Andy Chung certainly enjoyed having his aunt and uncle watching from the stands.
“It was actually nerve-racking because they’ve never actually seen me play before. It kind of boosted my confidence too, and so it was good to have them [there],” the defender said.
With another game the next night, the team traveled further south to take on UC San Diego (7-1) in a game of undefeated teams.
The late Saturday game was scheduled for a 10:45 p.m. start, which allowed the team to relax before the big game.
As the players watched the Baltimore Ravens barely edge out the Denver Broncos, they knew that they had a tough UCSD team ahead of them. Because of the consecutive days of playing, players and coaches took a laid-back approach prior to the game.
“It was a nice cool-off moment,” Chung said. “It’s a good bonding moment and getting to know each other on a more personal basis.”
Even with a chance of a perfect season on the line, senior Joey Koressel did not approach the game any differently from the rest.
“We go in every game preparing the same way. We know we have to come out hard in the beginning and obviously for road games, it’s a little tougher because we have to travel,” the captain said.
Koressel attributes the team’s success to strong defensive tactics.
“We have a defense-first mentality. We know we’re going to score goals but our main focus is to keep the puck out of our own net,” he said.
They stayed true to their philosophy by defeating UCSD by a score of 11-3 and pushed their winning streak to a dozen.
“Everyone was skating hard, really flying out there. We played strong defense and wore the other team down,” Wagner said.
Freshman Gordon Dickson led the pack, totaling eight points, and sits atop the league leaders in points with 78.
A strong sense of camaraderie surrounds this team off the ice and the results have been evident in the rink.
The shores of San Diego are recognized as having some of the best beaches in the world. Although 57 degrees is not considered warm by any stretch, the weather was nice enough for the Aggies to enjoy their Saturday afternoon tossing around a football on the West Coast sand before the game.
Wagner summarized the team’s mindset nicely.
“You need to focus during the game or in practice so we try to keep the team really amped up and excited, and at the same time, we’re here to have fun. We’re not the military,” Wagner said.
The Aggies will have a rematch with UCSD on Jan. 19 at 2:15 p.m. at Vacaville Ice Sports for their next game.
LUKE BAE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.