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Bears Start Season with Convincing Victories Over Stanford and USC

8 October 2012

Theo Haboucha (25) and JP McNicholas (17) Celebrate after the Game Tying Goal Against USC

OAKLAND, CA., October 7, 2012 – This past weekend, Cal Ice Hockey started their 2012-2013 campaign off with two strong victories at home over PAC 8 opponents, Stanford and USC. Friday night, the bears downed Stanford 12-5 in front of a rowdy homecoming crowd at Oakland Ice Center. They followed up this victory by stunning the USC Trojans 5-3 on Saturday night. The Bears are now riding a 4-game winning streak that has improved them to 4-1-0 (2-0-0 in PAC 8 Division).

After the official introduction of the 2012-2013 Cal Ice Hockey roster, the Bears came out fiery against the Cardinal. Bryan Brown (Grad.) scored on the second shift of the game, just 1 minute into the first period, on a deflection from Jeff Leong’s (Fr.) point shot. Stanford responded 6 minutes later with a goal of their own. The team’s went back-and-forth for two goals a piece in the last four minutes of the period, with the Bears getting goals from Theo Haboucha (Fr.) on a nifty breakaway set up by JP McNicholas (Sr.), and Leong from Bryce Morisako (Fr.) and Jeff Stock (Jr.). Cal and Stanford went into the locker room tied 3-3 after one period, with a combined total of 27 hits.

Grant Brown (2) Crushes a Stanford Player

The Bears took their time to calm down during the first intermission, which cost them a delay of game penalty to start the second. However, the extra time they used to collect themselves definitely proved to be key as they went on to deposit five straight goals in the second, starting with back-to-back shorthanded goals from Haboucha and Boscha, both assisted by Morisako, to start the period. Morisako came back with a highlight-reel breakaway goal on a perfect bank pass up the boards from Michel Mikhail (So.) directly following the penalty kill to stun the Cardinal and put the Bears up 6-3, just 3 minutes into the second period. Morisako struck again just three minutes later on a perfect back-door pass from Haboucha. On another Bears breakaway set up by Brown, McNicholas tallied his first goal in his first game back for the Bears on a dandy backhander into the roof of the net with just a minute to go in the period to send the Bears into the second intermission up 8-3.
The Bears did not let off the gas and continued to slaughter Stanford in the third period. They started with quick goals from Brown and McNicholas to go up 10-3 with 17 minutes to go. The Cardinal clearly started to get frustrated and the game became much more scrappy from then on out. The teams split a total of 8 roughing penalties in the last 15 minutes of the game, with each side getting a 4-on-4 goal. The Bears got theirs from Chaten Boscha (Grad.) on a nice one-timer set up by Justin Tetyevsky (So.) who had 2 assist on the night. B. Brown ended the scoring with 3 minutes to go on a long stretch pass from the keeper, Kegan Nelson (Sr.), to send the Cardinal back to Palo Alto with a crushing 12-5 defeat.
The Bears ended with a total of 56 shots to Stanford’s 28, and nearly every Cal player had a shot at the net including Frank Anicic’s (Sr.) hard wirst shot off the post that came inches from putting the Bears up 9-3 in the final minute of the second period.
Nelson had another strong outing with 23 saves for the Bears, picking up his third straight victory and improving his save percentage for a third straight game to .801. He also tallied his second assist on the season.
Game Notes: Haboucha scored a hat trick in his third consecutive game to become the Bears scoring leader… McNicholas chalked a total of 3 points in his first game back since deciding to return to the Bears for his 5th season… Leong tallied 5 points to further increase his scoring lead among Cal defensemen… Morisako had his second straight 6-point performance… Stock played a full period without getting sent to the box… Jake White (So.) missed his third straight game due to broken fingers… Sandon Griffin (So.) left the game in the first period due to a lower body injury but came back to finish the game after the first intermission… Mike Holmes (Grad.) served a total of three penalties that weren’t his…

Saturday night’s game against USC was definitely a more even matchup. However, the Bears started the game with crucial scratches to both alternate captains (White and Griffin) due to injury and senior leader, Peter Kler (Sr.), due to an undisclosed lower-body injury. USC is considered one of the favorites to win the PAC 8 Division, but the Bears ended up serving the Trojans a hard-fought defeat to prove that they are contenders for the Division title as well.
The first period was very physical, and neither side saw many clean shots at the net. A defensive lapse by the Bears following USC’s strong forecheck put the Trojans up 1-0 eight minutes into the game, and an unfortunate bounce with 6 minutes to go in the period caused the Bears to go into the first intermission down 0-2. However, the Bears knew they were still very much in the game and came out determined to send USC home with their first loss in PAC 8 Division play.
USC was served with a delay of game penalty to start the second period and Haboucha capitalized on the powerplay with assists coming from Boscha and Morisako to cut the lead to 2-1. Two minutes later, Haboucha struck again, this time from McNicholas and Nic Kawasaki (Fr.), and just like that, the game was tied. The Bears kept the pressure on throughout the second period, outshooting the Trojans 16-12 and outhitting them 10-7. The Bears also killed two crucial penalties that period with solid penalty killing coming from B. Brown and Grant Brown (Sr.). The Bears went into the second intermission tied 2-2, but the momentum had clearly shifted in their favor.
Just four minutes into the third, Leong sent a brilliant breakout pass up to Morisako who came in 2-on-1 with Haboucha. Morisako slid a saucy pass over to Haboucha who pulled the goalie out of position as he dragged the puck across the crease and sent a backhander into the gaping net to put the Bears up 3-2 and earn his fourth straight hat trick. The Bears, however, were not done. Just two minutes later, with the crowd still buzzing from Haboucha’s goal, McNicholas inserted a rebound over the goalie’s left shoulder with another crafty backhanded shot, which proved to be the game winner. Haboucha and Kawasaki were each credited with the assist on the pivotal insurance goal. USC did not go down without a fight though, and the battled back to make it 4-3 with 10:50 to go. On the subsequent 10-minute misconduct issued to a Bears defenseman, Cal was forced to make some line adjustments and Andy Abrams (So.) stepped up to the plate to contribute some solid defensive play in the last 10 minutes of the game, which was exactly what the Bears needed. They survived the last two minutes of play shorthanded and McNicholas capped the game on an empty netter with 26 seconds to go to send the Bears home with a convincing 5-3 victory.

Matt Bloomfield (29) in Net For the Bears

Matt Bloomfield (Sr.) got the start in goal for the Bears, his first since the tragic Berkeley fire last November caused him to miss the majority of the 2011-2012 season. After a bad puck bounce off the endboards into the crease led to USC’s second goal, Bloomfield reasserted his status as one of the PAC 8′s strongest netminders, saving 28 of the next 29 shots by USC to lead the Bears to their fourth straight victory.
Notes: All four Bears freshman earned points in their fifth straight game since coming to Cal… The Bears are now tied for the PAC 8 Division lead with a 2-0-0 record… Mike Holmes (Grad.) led the team in blocked shots on the weekend… Sam Friedman (So.) regained his Best Hair title on the team following Tetyevsky’s subpar haircut…