As the clock ticked down Saturday night on SDSU Hockey’s 6-9 defeat against the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes, the Aztecs looked mentally and physically drained. Many would have expected the Aztecs’ jump to Division-1 to have been a struggle, but the team remained competitive for virtually the entire weekend.
Head coach Phillip Bateman was still complimentary of his team’s fight against the Buffaloes. “I think pretty clearly we’re a tenacious and speedy team,” said the coach. “We had a good game one, and evolved into a better game two… I think this group is learning to keep working hard and we just have to keep on (doing) that.”
Even in their losses, some individual Aztecs shined in their Division-1 debuts. Senior Ian Stentz potted two goals in Saturday’s matchup, despite just scoring five times in all of last season. Sophomore defenseman Lucas Bellig assisted on five of his team’s seven goals over the weekend, including a four-assist night on Saturday.
The main thing SDSU needs to improve upon: Discipline. In the words of captain Mike Pellegrino, “I think a lot of the goals they scored; we just took too many stupid penalties.” The Aztecs logged 27 penalty minutes over the course of their two games.
The captain was still proud of his team’s performance. “I don’t want anyone to hold their head down… Some people wrote us off and figured ‘they (SDSU are gonna get killed by a team that’s been in this league 10 years.’ I think it’s good these were both close games.
“There’s things we need to work on, but I think we belong in this division with everyone else.”
The Aztecs will now be favored heading into this weekend’s matchup against Division-2 team Northern Arizona University. The Aztecs defeated the Lumberjacks in back-to-back away matchups last season and will be chomping at the bit to earn their first win of the season at the Kroc Center on Friday.