Yes, they do. And as sophomore club president and Division I team captain Danny Kumata said,
“It’s not field hockey, damn it.”
The lack of the awareness of the club’s existence, and playing surface type, is not due to poor performance. The club has consistently ranked in the top three of the Western Conference in both Division I and Division III.
Last year was the only exception. In the 2015-16 season, the Division I team placed dead last with a 4-12 win-loss record, the club’s lowest ranking since its creation in 1993.
Following their top four run in the 2014-15 season, the Mustangs lost star forwards Chris Kumata and Ryan Newens, who both had racked up over 60 points each in the season of their senior year. The power duo created more points together than the rest of the team, combined. They were pretty good.
Okay, they were really good.
New school year, new season
That’s how the saying goes, as the newest iteration of the Division I team is looking good- currently at third in the Western Conference at 8-6.
The addition of six new players, four freshmen and two transfer students, has reignited the Mustangs.
“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.
The “young blood” are filling the stats sheets, as freshman Joe Blakewell is the highest-assisting defenseman in the league at 12 and transfer Mitchell Myjack ranks among the best goalies with an 0.848 (84 percent) save percentage.
Freshman forward Jake Mandel leads Cal Poly Gold, one of the club’s Division III teams, in goals at 22.
The other team DIII team, Cal Poly Green, consists of almost all new members to the club.
The 2017 Coastal Clash
Recently, all three teams travelled to Santa Barbara for the annual Coastal Clash, held at UC Santa Barbara’s Recreation Center.
“Santa Barbara is definitely our biggest tournament of the year. It’s the closest to home games that we get.” — Cal Poly Division III coach, Bryan Carnahan.
Kumata described this tournament as the “tipping point of the season.”
Division I junior defenseman Chris Audi echoed his captain’s statement, calling it the “defining moment” for the team to “see what [they’re] made of.”
“We know we can play with them… and beat them for sure,” Audi said, prior to the tournament.
This mindset seemed to help the team, as the Mustangs served the Gauchos their first regulation loss of the season in a 5-3 win.
“Getting pumped up for that game really helped us,” freshman defenseman Joe Blakewell said, “knowing that the game was an important, pivotal moment for our season got us all motivated and ready to go.”
“The win for Cal Poly is the first of the season against UCSB; UCSB won all 3 of their previous matchups, each by 1 goal,” wrote the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League.
Spreading the word
The season isn’t over yet, and Blakewell believes the club will carry the positive momentum.
“We’re on an upswing now, and we’re going to be able to hold that the rest of the season,” said Blakewell.
Sophomore club treasurer and Cal Poly Gold team captain Nick Peterson hopes to see more students supporting the club.
“Everyone should come check it out. Come see a game, if possible.” Peterson said.
The next opportunity to see the Mustangs on wheels is the weekend of February 18th, as the Division I team heads to Huntington Beach.