Stanford Strikes Out in Triple-Header Weekend

STANFORD, CA — 

It was the toughest weekend yet for the Stanford Cardinal, who played three back-to-back games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, losing all three. What began as optimism on Friday night as Stanford nearly pulled off a massive upset over Cal soon turned to dejection after the Cardinal subsequently lost the next two games against a beatable USC team. While both of the first two games saw Stanford tied with the opposition 2-2 headed into the third period, the Sunday game against USC revealed the exhaustion of the Stanford squad, who couldn’t muster a competitive effort in the 7-1 blowout loss. The Cardinal now falls to 1-6 in conference and 1-7 overall, though many of the games have been closer than the record indicates. For instance, while Stanford was swept by Cal this year, this latest game was the Cardinal’s best effort against their rivals to date despite the disappointing outcome.

 

As is tradition, the Big Freeze brought hundreds of Cal fans to the rink in Oakland, including the marching band. The electric atmosphere carried over the play on the ice, as both teams fought hard to the very end. Cal struck first with a menacing slap-shot from the point that beat starting goalie Jack Campbell mid way through the first period. It only took a minute into the second period for the Bears to score again, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But Stanford rallied, turning the script on Cal as they began dominating the pace of play throughout the middle of the game. Playing smart in the defensive zone, the Cardinal saw their chances increase until the dam broke thirteen minutes into the second period. It was Stanford’s leading goal scorer Max Evans, who picked up a puck deep in the Cardinal zone, carried it coast-to-coast, and buried a wrist shot just under the glove of the Cal goalie. Stanford trailed Cal by just 1 headed into the third.

Anxious to pull even, the Cardinal looked to their leaders. Still trying to net his first goal of the year, senior defenseman and team captain Jake Levine led the Stanford powerplay onto the ice after they’d earned a 5-on-3 early in the third frame, and delivered the electrifying equalizing tally. All five Stanford players touched the puck on the goal, starting with defenseman Sebastian James as he collected a loose puck and moved it to Evans at the point. Evans hit Miye D’Oench down low, who tried a pass to Levine far side. The play was broken up, but Jon Walters was able to get a stick on the puck and fired it on goal. The Cal tendie made the initial save, but the rebound went right to Levine, who’d crept down into the zone looking for loose change. He found it, and made no mistake, finishing top shelf to tie the game at 2.

Stanford had a real shot at the victory, and had been the better team since the midway point in the game. But Cal, to their credit, stepped up the intensity late in the third, and was rewarded with the game-winning goal with just 5 minutes remaining in the contest. Sustained zone pressure led to a bouncing puck in front of Stanford’s net, which was tapped in just behind Cardinal goalie Ben Smith. Smith and Campbell each played half the game, and this was Smith’s first appearance in net all season, though he was excellent on the night. A late empty net goal by Cal led to a final score of 4-2.

Despite the strong showing against Cal, the following two games against USC were nothing less than a massive disappointment. The two clubs haven’t faced one another in recent memory, but with Stanford’s entry into the PAC-8, USC now becomes a regular opponent for the Cardinal. However, if Stanford wants to compete in their new conference, they’ll need to beat teams like USC with regularity. This time the Cardinal wasn’t up to the task, mainly due to disastrous third period showings in both games. Saturday’s game saw the teams tied at two headed into the 3rd frame before USC blew the game open with two quick goals followed by a late dagger and an empty netter. Stanford’s three goals came courtesy of Silverman, Levine, and Evans; Campbell was in net. Hey look, more highlights!

 

The rematch on Sunday was easily Stanford’s worst game of the season — USC scored early and often as the hapless Cardinal was likely feeling the effects of playing two games the days prior. USC played well, utilizing their speed and transition game to generate countless rush opportunities, eventually notching 7 against Smith, who was in net this time for Stanford. The lone bright spot was a beautiful snipe by forward Kyle Edwards late in the game to break a shutout. It was Edwards’ third goal of the year, and Levine’s fifth assist, which leads the team. Forward Caroline Guden also picked up a second assist on the play in her debut game with the Cardinal.

Stanford gets a well-earned break before their next game, which is against CSU Northridge at 8:15pm on December 3rd at Nazareth Ice Oasis in San Mateo.