Ice Jacks keep rolling despite strange weekend
By Matt Esaena
The newly ranked No. 3 Division II Northern Arizona University (NAU) Ice Jacks traveled to California Nov. 8-10. Scheduled to play three games, the Jacks were only able to compete in two matches due to an ice issue. The Jacks were able to pick up the win by forfeit to increase their current winning streak to eight games and improve to 11–1 on the season.
NAU defeated the California State University-Fullerton Titans by scores of 11–0 and 3–1. On the first night of the Jacks’ road trip, they were awarded the forfeit win against Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
The Ice Jacks’ strange weekend came to an end on Nov. 10 when they beat the Titans 3–1, after crushing them the night before. Junior goalie James Korte started in the net for NAU and turned down 19 of the 20 shots he faced.
NAU outshot its opponent 60-to-20 this game, but due to a good goaltender on the other side of the ice, the Jacks were only held to three goals. Senior forward Rob Brown, junior defenseman Dillon Butenhoff and sophomore defenseman Nathan Kundla all tallied goals for the Jacks. NAU played a physical game, finishing the night with 65 hits, led by senior defenseman Justin Frechoine, who contributed nine.
“It’s good. Especially to have guys step up and take care of business,” said head coach Travis Johanson.
Friday’s matchup was not much of a game. NAU recorded a season–high 74 shots on the net to score 11 goals through the game; five of those tallies came in the third period. The team’s leading scorer, sophomore Vinny Eck, had a goal and two assists, junior forward Greg Park finished the night with a hat–trick and Butenhoff recorded a goal and four assists to total five points.
The Jacks also dominated on face–offs with a .70 win percentage on draws. Freshman goalie and Golden State native Andy Salazar got his first collegiate start and made 24 saves, the first shutout in his Ice Jack career.
“It felt great to get my first collegiate start this year in my home state,” Salazar said. “I have been preparing for this game all season. My teammates played solid in front of me and I was there when they needed me to make saves.”
The peculiar weekend began for the Jacks on Thursday when they showed up to play LMU at Skating Edge Ice Arena in Bay Harbor, Calif. After both teams took to the ice and finished warm–ups, game officials determined the rink was in no condition to hold a game because of damaged ice caused by a leak in the roof. NAU was credited for a win due to forfeit.
After going 3–0 on the road trip, NAU will return home to take on its in-conference foes, the San Diego State Aztecs. A special start time of 7 p.m. has been schedule for the Nov. 16 match-up. Following the series, most of the Ice Jacks will travel to their hometowns to enjoy Thanksgiving before returning to Flagstaff to host in-state rivals, ASU.
“We just have to keep playing one period at a time,” Johanson said. “And not get ahead of ourselves.”
Correction from the previous story: Senior forward Jonathan Isbell was reported as having scored the game-wining goal against the Long Beach State 49ers. It was actually senior forward Rocky DeAngelo who iced the puck for the Ice Jacks.