The Gauchos return to school having gone a disappointing 0-3 in round robin play during NARCh Winternationals in Las Vegas. The WCRHL in general had a poor showing, with only CSU San Bernardino moving on to elimination play out of a total of five Western teams. The Coyotes would get eliminated in their first game.
UCSB lost to Missouri-Rolla 2-3, in a game that saw three Miner goals in the first half followed by less than three Miner shots in the second half. The Gauchos came out flat and it hurt them all game long. Though they would dominate the second period with puck movement and physical play, UCSB would not be able to overcome their sluggish start.
In one of the worst losses in recent memory, Santa Barbara would bow out 0-8 to eventual NARCh Winternational champions Michigan State. The Spartans dominated the entire game with their passing and cycling. They were also helped out by more than a dozen penalty minutes assessed to the Gauchos in the first half, including a paralyzing double minor 4-on-2 powerplay in which the Spartans scored three goals. Overall, Santa Barbara was sorely outplayed in the first rematch between these teams since the 1999 CRHL national championship game.
UCSB gave up the first few goals to Moorpark College, came back within a goal and would eventually lose in a mad scramble to tie the game. Junior forward Derek Kokubun had both goals in the Gauchos' 2-3 loss. Santa Barbara will have some consolation, though, as they will be playing Moorpark again this coming weekend at the La Verne Hockey Club in their fourth WCRHL event of the year.
Overall, it was very apparent UCSB has work to do. Although they sit fairly comfortably within playoff contention, Las Vegas would show the Gauchos just how much they are going to have to work on before they can see Anaheim in April.
Thanks go out to all the UCSB families and friends who came to Las Vegas to support us. You may not have gotten a good show, but hopefully the buffet filled you up.