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|For complete team record, see Record page
California Cougars Squirt A Winter Classic Champions!!!
Welcome back to the Cougars Den!
Prior to the Winter Classic Tournament, California had shown us a variety of teams they could be and the question was,
which team would they be for the Winter Classic???
The Cats showed good signs in the practices leading up to the tournament. Coach Chris worked them hard and through
new systemic break outs and offensive attacks. Although California had easy wins over the Flyers, Sharks, and Blackhawk
Bs, the Cats worked the systems and their collective tails off.
The Tournament began on December 30. The Cougars started off well with two ho-hum wins over the Sharks and Blackhawks
B teams. Although the competition wasn't tough, the Cats skated well, defended well and had solid goaltending from big
JB to win 7-0 and 9-0, respectively.
Tri Valley - New Year's Day - 6:45PM
The first serious test California faced was against Tri-Valley. Although many assumed it was a meaningless game because
both teams were expected to run their respective tables on the way to the Championship Game on Sunday, the teams had not faced
each other since the Blue Devils worked over the Cats 4-1 in Dublin back in early November.
Both teams came out tentatively. There was a lot of back and forth and the first scoring chance wasn't until three minute
had passed. Chase made a nice centering play to JacksonS but good defensive play by Wechsler and backchecking by Nelson
thwarted the effort. Along with Nico and Jack, the line of Harrison, Kurt and Nolan put pressure on but the Blue Devils
stood their ground. With about five minutes remaining in the 1st, Kurt took a pass from Nolan and created a breakaway.
He was taken down and didn't get a shot off but no penalty was called. His frustration showed just seconds later as he got
called for a bodycheck. The Blue Devils got a couple chances early in the power play while utilizing Cassetti, Durst and
Rael up front with Adams and Aquilina on D. But RyanD forced the play at the Cats blue line getting the puck past one
defender, then made a move on the second Blue Devil defenseman as he carried the puck into the zone and popped a shot over the
goalie's glove for a shorthanded goal and one-nothing lead. The Devils applied some pressure late in the period led by a
hard drive to the net by Cassetti, but he was fought off well by JYao and JB came up with some nice saves.
The second was more intensely fought. Both teams came out tenaciously with end to end action. Rubino and Yoshida were
running over people. Bella was driving to the net. But, the Blue Devils were coming at the Cougars too. And,
after some ferocious pressure by Hertz, Gregoire and Harburn, Hertz banged in a rebound to tie the game at 1. The Blue
Devils celebration had not yet subsided when Ryan D took a centering pass from JLuo and spun a backhand into the Blue Devils net
to take a 2-1 lead only 17 seconds later.
The Blue Devils doubled the Cats shots in the second 7-3, then again in the third 8-4, but the Cats held on to their lead for the
remainder of the 2nd and all of the 3rd period to win the game 2-1. A win against Boise the next morning put them in the
Boise Steelheads - January 3rd 7:45AM
After a tough game against the Blue Devils, California almost overlooked The Boise Steelheads falling behind 1-0 only 14 seconds
into the game. The Cats were stunned and struggled to get their footing throughout the first period and went into the 2nd
still down 1-nil.
RyanD from JLuo got the Cats on the board early in the second but the Steelheads came right back with one of their own only a
minute later. Again, RyanD from JLuo and Nick tied it at two. As the only line making meaningful contribution, JLuo
from RyanD put California up 3-2 to close out the 2nd. Chase, Bella and Jackson were contributing too, but couldn't get
anything on the board to show for it. Harrison, Kurt and Nolan rode the pine for much of the period because they were
making no impact whatsoever. The defensive core was keeping the Cats alive. RyanY, RyanC, JYao along with JZ and
PLuo were filleting Steelheads whenever they got close to the net. Jack and Nico were providing some offensive punch while
some of the forwards were taking the day off like they were going on a early morning fishing charter.
Thankfully, especially for this media rep, Harrison, Nolan and Kurt woke up in time for the third period. They added two
goals within the first 2 minutes to pad the Cougars lead to 5-2. RyanD added his Hat Trick goal 5 minutes later. And
after a plethora of missed chances, Chase deservedly hit pay dirt 30 seconds later. Cougars win 7-2.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME VS. TRI-VALLEY - January 3rd 2:30 PM
The teams came out flying at the beginning of the game. Both teams created odd-man rushes early in the game but each teams'
defense made strong plays to break up the attacks; Wechsler for Tri-Valley in a 2-on-1 situation and Yoshida with JZ in a 3-on-2
break, then Rubino facing a 2-on-1. As the period went on the teams started to tire, probably because both had earlier morning
games. The Blue Devils outshot the Cats by a three-to-one margin 12-4 in the period. This was largely due to a power
play the Blue Devils had late in the period.
The second period was sluggish. Both teams looked a bit tired and struggled to get anything going for the first half of the
period. The teams traded chances although neither team had any glorious opportunities... until... Nico. Nico was one
of the Cats best players throughout the tournament and he was rewarded with 4:12 left in the second. Nick had taken a penalty
so the Cats were shorthanded but applying pressure in the Blue Devils end. Jack pumped the puck in the zone while RyanD and
JLuo forechecked. At the weak side D position, Nico took a beautiful feed from JLuo who was in the near corner, then let go
of a rocket that ripped in the net past the goalie's glove to give California a 1-0 lead. The period wound down with excellent
defensive zone play by Chase, Jackson and Bella. Nick also solely thwarted a Blue Devils chance late in the period.
The third period was the Blue Devils best period of the game. Although the Cats started the period a man down after receiving
a bench minor with 10 seconds left in the second, the Cats penalty killers were solid. Both groups: Harrison, Kurt, RyanC and PLuo;
and RyanD, JLuo, RyanY and JZ - all kept the Blue Devils scoring chances to a minimum. Once at full strength with Nick on the
ice the Cats pressed the puck down to the Blue Devils zone. There was end to end action for the next 5 minutes. Coach
Chris changed the forward lines for a few shifts which almost paid off when a centering pass from JacksonS just missed Bella's stick
as she was alone in front of the net.
Ah... but what's a little California Cougars SQA1 - TriValley Blue Devils SQA without some controversy??? Boring stuff!!
With 6:11 left in the period, Cassetti skated the puck down the near boards and took a shot from the corner at the goal line.
Somehow it went into the net. JB was livid. Twice earlier in the game, he had told the referee that the net was not
resting all the way down on its mooring. Jackson had blocked the side from which the shot was coming. Exactly what he had
worried about happened, the puck slid underneath the net and into the goal. JB immediately got up and started screaming at the
ref. JB is a big kid - don't think I'd want him screaming at me.
BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!! For only two payments of $29.95, you don't get one, but two... oh... uh... sorry, wrong script.
Actually, early in the first period, there was a potential non-call of a goal made by one of the Blue Devils defenseman.
Allegedly, it went in and out of the net so fast the ref didn't see it and the play went on.
See, so everything evens out... :)
After getting out played most of the period and outshot 9-1, with 4:53 left in the game the Cats got the big break they needed.
The Blue Devils got a tripping penalty and a bench minor was added. 5-on-3 for California for a full two minutes!
Coach Chris put out two different power play units.
Did they get a bunch of shots on goal?? Uh... no. Did they create a few excellent scoring chances?? Uh... no.
Did they set up a good power play in the offensive zone to utilize the open ice??? Uh... no. Well, did they get the puck
in the offensive zone?? Sorry... no. Ah, did they let the other team get a breakaway while being 2 men down?? Yes!
Thanks to JB... no goal.
The Cats floundered the rest of the power play so Coach Chris called time out. The Cats regrouped and played a tough last three
minutes of the game, but it ended tied 1-1 and headed to OT.
The OT was the Cats best effort of the game. They seemed reenergized and dominated the session outshooting the Blue Devils by a
two-to-one margin with several solid scoring chances. Unfortunately, despite their effort the OT ended with the game still tied
and headed to a shootout.
As the home team, California elected to shoot second.
1st Shooters: Blue Devils #52 - Scores ; Cougars #19 Bench - Scores / 1-1
2nd Shooters: Blue Devils #57 - X ; Cougars #18 JLuo - Scores / 2-1 Cougars
3rd Shooters: Blue Devils #25 - Scores ; Cougars #8 Chase - X / 2-2
4th Shooters: Blue Devils #83 - Scores ; Cougars #40 RyanD - Scores / 3-3
5th Shooters: Blue Devils #5 - X ; Cougars #22 Nico - X / 3-3
6th Shooters: Blue Devils #22 - X ; Cougars #7 Harrison - Scores / 4-3 Cougars
7th Shooters: Blue Devils # - X ; Cougars #42 Nolan - X / 4-3 Cougars
8th Shooters: Blue Devils #13 - X ; Cougars #42 JZ - X / 4-3 Cougars
9th Shooters: Blue Devils #88 - X ; Cougars #51 PLuo - Scores
COUGARS WIN 5-3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2010-01-11: Winter Classic Champions
2009-12-05: Jr. Kings Tournament Summary
2009-10-26: Two Steps
2009-09-25: First Preseason
2009-09-16: PWB Scrimmage
2009-09-10: Labor Day Party