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Men’s hockey club wraps up third season of play

Sergio Muñoz
The UTEP hockey club finishes the season with an overall record of 19-11 and 17-5 in the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference.

The 2017-18 campaign for the UTEP men’s hockey club came to an end on Friday night, Feb. 9, as the Miners fell to North Texas 2-1 in the semi-final round of the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship (TCHC) playoffs.

Through the first and second period, the Mean Green earned two goals in consecutive periods, while the Miners’ Noah Vanderzwan found the back of the net late at the 19:42 minute mark of the third period, but the attempt at a comeback was too little, too late.

Nonetheless, it was still a positive season for the Miners’ hockey club overall, who finished with a final record of 19-11 overall and 17-5 in TCHC play.

Coming off a 2016-17 season, where they won the TCHC championship, the Miners had a heavy load to follow up at the start of the season.

They started their season in late September, losing five of their first seven games, including losses to Texas A&M on the road and a sweep at the hands of Northern Arizona at home. The Miners were able to steal two wins against Texas Tech. However, the problem with the Miners at the beginning is they were getting heavily outscored by their opponents. The opposing teams beat them at a 33-16 rate through their first seven games.

Then the Miners started getting into their groove, winning their next five games, followed by a two-game skid. They beat out the likes of Texas A&M, Dallas Baptist and SMU by a combined score of 29-11. During this win streak, the Miners squeezed by Texas A&M, 5-4, and by Dallas Baptist, 4-3.

Their luck on the road against Arizona teams continued to trouble them as they fell twice to Northern Arizona and lost against Arizona State at the top of November. Northern Arizona handled the Miners well, beating them out 5-0 in the first and 8-2 in the second matchup. Arizona State followed with a shutout victory, beating the Miners, 7-0.

Finding luck at home in the El Paso County Coliseum’s Events Center, the Miners hit their highest peak of the season, winning 10 games in a row. Their hard-fought streak started against TCU, as they beat the Horned Frogs 3-1 and then 3-2 in their two-game series.

The team beat out the likes of North Texas at the start of December, beating them 6-4, and then 8-1 in the second game. Keeping their streak alive, the Miners saw success against the University of Texas’ hockey club, as they beat them out 8-4 and 4-2 in their home series. After gaining huge wins against Texas State at home with a combined score of 26-0, the club went on the road to Austin to face Texas State and the Longhorns.

The Miners again outlasted the Bobcats, this time 12-5 on the road, and split the away series against the Longhorns, winning the first, 4-1, but being shut out in the second, 3-0.

They closed out their season against East Texas Baptist University at home, splitting the series as they lost the first, 4-3, but won the second, 4-2.

Leading up to the playoffs, the Miners would have to face a Texas A&M  team that they were 2-2 against this season. After a Jorge Duenas Abin goal early in the first period for the Miners off a Dominic Foggia assist, Texas A&M scored three consecutive goals spanning from the first period to the top of the second. Then, Matt Sanca scored on a power play for the Miners, inching closer to A&M’s lead, trailing 3-2. At the top of the third period, the Aggies scored on a power play, making the score seem out of reach at 4-2.

However, Joshua Baeza scored on a power play nine minutes after the Aggies’ score from a pass from Nicholas Howell to put the Miners in a better situation nearing the end. Then, just 30 seconds later, the Miners scored off a Matt Sanca power play. He then capped off the lead again with a repeat goal at the 15-minute mark to give the Miners the 5-4 advantage, which would then give them the win.

Through the second half of their season, the Miners became one of the best offensive teams in the league. They outscored their opponents 134-99 overall and averaged nearly five goals per game at the end of the season.

Leading the way for the Miners this season was Dominik Taras, who finished with 28 goals and 24 assists. Vanderzwan followed Taras with 18 goals and 18 assists. Sanca led the team in assists, totaling 28 this year and also contributed with 14 goals. Seven Miners scored more than 10 goals this season.

Aleksander Lazarski finished the season with the highest win percentage as a goalie in the TCHC, winning 14 games this season. He had a 90 percent save percentage for the Miners this year as well.

The Miners hockey club will be back in action for its next season in the fall of 2018.

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Men’s hockey club wraps up third season of play