While bittersweet, the Sooners did have a successful weekend sweep of the University of Central Oklahoma Broncos. OU finished their regular season ranked 9th in the ACHA with a 25-12-2 record after the 3-2 and 4-1 wins. The previous two weekend series were split between the two teams this year.
Outgoing senior Blake Martin completed his regular season with two goals and two assists against UCO, including Friday’s game winner. Martin finished with 37 points total, leading the Sooners, with 12 G and 25 A.
Sooner forward and goal leader Chad Hudson would also score twice on UCO during the series, finishing his season total with 18, 30 points total. Kevin Zehnder netted two goals in Saturday’s 4-1 blowout, ending his season with 25 points and sits in fifth place for the Sooners. Nic Power also scored for OU with his fifth short-handed goal of the season.
Netminder Nick Holmes started in net against his former team Friday night. Holmes would stop 19 of 21 shots on net. With the start, Nick closes his chapter on UCO hockey for the year. He finishes the regular season, shortened by playing only one semester, with a 5-4 record and 0.91% save percentage.
Senior Matt Pombo took the start in Saturday’s matchup, his last game on Sooner ice, stopping 16 of 17 shots on goal in the win, ending with a 5-3-1, 0.89% record for the season.
With Head Coach Peter Arvanitis’ first year in the lead position coming to a close, it has proven to be a fairly successful run. Pombo, the senior netminder, commented
“It has been great playing for Coach Pete, I wish I could play for him even longer. He completely changed the program for the better and brought more discipline and accountability.”
Matt is looking forward to attending medical school after this season is finished, following the National tournament.
“I will miss playing ice hockey, OU, the coaches and more importantly the players. Ive met a lot of good guys playing here at OU and will miss all of them.”
Senior Blake Martin seconds the sentiment about Coach Arvanitis,
” This last year of hockey playing under a new coach has been the best year of hockey here at OU. Both of our coaches really know the game of hockey and have done a great job changing the image of our team. Before they came in we were a really undisciplined team that took a lot of stupid penalties. They came in and established that things are going to change. They told us that everyone will be held accountable for their actions which is something that didn’t exist in years past. That means if you take a stupid penalty you won’t play know matter who you are. They also demanded that everyone works as hard as they can everyday in practice and every game to earn your ice time. This has increased the play of everyone as a team and has really shown with how well we have played as a team this year. Both coaches are very good coaches and will do great things for this organization.”
It has definitely been noticeable, even from the stands, how the team has turned around on and off the ice.
“As a team we have been doing a few different things on and off the ice to prep for nationals. As a team we made sure to come to practice focused and ready to practice at the highest tempo possible. We bare down on every drill and shot in practice and it really seems like everyone is playing their best hockey going into nationals. Off the ice everyone is making sure they are taking good care of their bodies by eating healthy and getting plenty of rest.”
While not sure of his next move after OU hockey, Blake had plenty of great memories from his time on ice. When asked about his favorite moment in a Sooner sweater, he offered up a great moment for the Sooner team;
“I would have to say my favorite moment playing for OU would be when we beat Lindenwood both games at their building this year. Before this year we hadn’t beat Lindenwood. They always beat us and beat us bad but this year we won 3 out of the 4 games we played them and we shut them out twice. That was a big highlight this year for us as a team and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
“I will honestly miss everything about OU. Playing hockey here for 4 years has really been the best 4 years of hockey for me. We as players are treated very well, have a very nice rink and locker-room, and we have a staff that will go above and beyond to help any player with whatever it may be. It really is a world class organization and I believe it will only get better as the years go by. I will also miss the dedicated fans that we have here at OU. I know we don’t get a lot of people at our games but I believe it’s because know one really knows hockey exists in Oklahoma. The fans we did get were there every game to support our team and it was really nice getting to know a lot of them.”
The Sooners will face 8th ranked Iowa State on Saturday at 4pm in the ACHA D1 National Championship Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. All the ACHA nationals games will be available online at www.fasthockey.com .
To see the game pics from Saturdays matchup and senior pics, please visit this page.