The UCSB roller hockey team will travel to Huntington Beach this weekend for its third league event of the year.
The Gauchos are sitting on a 3-3-1 record after their trip to Sonora, Calif. on Oct. 25. After dropping a heated game to rival Cal Poly, UCSB would go on to lose an extremely physical game to Chico State in the last few minutes of the match. Santa Barbara rebounded with a win against UC Davis and a come-from-behind tie with Moorpark College. Santa Barbara dominated much of the game with excellent puck control and physical play, snapping Moorpark’s six-game win streak. Freshman goaltender Jason Green had perhaps his best game of the season, standing on his head and stopping several key scoring opportunities to preserve the tie.
“That was a great result for us. After the bounces we’ve gotten and the way things have gone, we could’ve folded against a very good Moorpark team – but we battled back and got the tie. Jason played incredibly well,” senior captain Greg Franks said.
Santa Barbara will have rematches against Berkeley and Chapman University. The team soundly defeated the Golden Bears, but lost a crucial game to Chapman in the last minute of the match on Oct. 11. The Gauchos will then face off against Arizona State. This will be the first ever meeting with the Sun Devils, who are traveling to California for out-of-conference play.
“We really want the Chapman game. They’ve beaten us in the last minute three times in a row now. We’re definitely ready to get our revenge,” Franks said.
The big game of the tournament will be when UCSB, the 1999 National Runner-up, takes on Cal Poly Pomona, the defending 2003 National Champions. Led by senior forward Tom Wiebe and junior goalie Stephen Freeman, both unanimous First Team All-Americans, the Mustangs are undefeated so far this season.
Wiebe has been the leading scorer of the conference for his entire career, and is on track to do it again this year. Last season, Santa Barbara shut down the dangerous forward in its first match, only to lose 3-4. Pomona would again squeak by with a 10-9 win against the Gauchos in the regional championship series after Wiebe anchored his team with a game-high five points. Freeman was the 2003 Goalie of the Year.
“We already know we can play with Pomona, and we know we can shut down Wiebe. They’re a great team, but also a beatable team. If we win that game, it’ll be a statement to the rest of our league and all the other teams out there in the nation,” Franks said.
UCSB is currently in fourth place, but has played more games than half of the other Division I schools. A 4-0 result in Huntington Beach, though, could help clinch a berth to regionals in March.