The Blue-Green rivalry will take place on skates as the roller hockey club travels to Santa Barbara Friday for the annual Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League’s Coastal Clash.
The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. for one of Cal Poly’s Division III teams, Gold, at the University of California Santa Barbara Recreation Center. After that, the Division I team will play, followed by a match between Cal Poly Gold and the Mustangs’ other Division III team, Cal Poly Green. Cal Poly Green will also play UC Santa Barbara at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
“Santa Barbara is always the best tournament,” Cal Poly Gold Captain Nick Peterson said.
Sophomore Captain and club President Danny Kumata leads the Division I team that is currently third in the standings at 6-6.
After a rough season last year, the addition of six new players — four freshmen and two transfers — whipped the Mustangs into shape.
“It’s awesome having a bunch of young blood, especially playing college-level hockey. It’s a step up from what they’re used to, but all the guys are handling it really well,” Kumata said.
That “young blood” has been filling the stat sheet with outstanding performances. First year transfer Mitchell Myjack ranks among the best goalies in the division with a 0.847 save percentage. Freshman defenseman Joe Blakewell is third in the division in assists with 12.
Despite strong performances, the Mustangs’ top team has not been able to beat UC Santa Barbara, with three close, one-goal losses to the first place Gauchos.
In both San Jose and Huntington Beach, the Gauchos broke a 5-5 tie with less than 20 seconds in the final period, defeating the Mustangs 6-5. In Las Vegas, the Mustangs’ three-goal third period wasn’t enough to overturn the Gauchos’ advantage.
“We know we can play with them and beat them for sure,” defenseman Chris Audi said, “Santa Barbara is great. They’re class competitors, but we’re planning on beating them.”
Cal Poly Gold and Cal Poly Green have struggled this season, placing sixth and seventh in Division III.
Gold had to rebuild their roster after losing all four of their defensemen from their second place Western Conference run last season. Freshman forward Jake Mandel is tied in the division for most game-winning goals.
Cal Poly Green is composed of almost completely new players.
“Different guys come every year, but the same Cal Poly spirit hangs with us. [They] are all really hard workers, they leave it all out here,” Green and Gold coach Bryan Carnahan said.
Junior forward Andrew Heim and freshman defenseman Vincent Leuzze lead the team with nine points each.
Following the Coastal Clash, all three Cal Poly teams will play other Western Conference teams the following Saturday in Santa Barbara.
“We’re really looking forward to this [tournament],” Audi said. “It’s the defining moment for us to see what we’re made of.”
The tournament’s progress can be tracked on the WCRHL website and Cal Poly Hockey’s Facebook page.