By Daniel Reedy:
Persistent offense, strong defense and excellent goaltending nearly always generate a win and tonight was no outlier for SJSU.
The Spartans returned home, took a 3-0 lead in the first period and beat the Western Washington Vikings in a solid victory, 5-1.
After six road games in which SJSU went 1-3-2, the home ice was welcome for the now 13-8-4 Spartans.
SJSU’s top players were on display tonight.
Spartans’ points leader Schuylar Krawczuk rifled a shot from the point and forward Romeo Sandoval tipped it in from in front of the net. Krawczuk scored his 14th goal of the season on the powerplay with just four seconds and change left in the first period, allowing the Spartans to enter the first intermission up by three.
Left-handed sniper Christian Rendino scored twice, wristing in one goal from the right side of Western Washington’s goalie Robert MacDonald. On the second, Rendino flew past the defense, deked MacDonald to the ice and flipped the puck into the net to stretch the lead to four. Rendino’s goals moved him into a tie for 10th most in goals scored in program history. The blueliner is also 20th in career points.
The Spartans couldn’t hold the shutout and a defensive breakdown in the second period left a Viking forward with a wide-open shot that netminder Eddie Berlin had no chance to stop.
Berlin was otherwise phenomenal. He made two huge glove saves off open chances for Western Washington and, while laying flat on the ice, reached up and swatted away a shot on the open goal.
The Spartans entered the third period with a 3-1 lead but Rendino scored his second tally early in the period and Paul Margot snapped a rebounding puck past MacDonald to extend the lead to 5-1.
Western Washington (9-13-2) came out flat in the third and created relatively few opportunities in comparison to the Spartans who dominated almost the entire game. The visiting Vikings played better defense and capitalized on scoring chances in the second but the deficit from the first period was too much to overcome.
The numerous penalties didn’t help them either.
Although they only gave up the one power-play goal, the shorthanded — referring to roster size — spent too much time on the penalty kill and looked tired and sluggish for most of the game.
Even though he didn’t hit the back of net, sophomore forward Corey Semmelmeyer showed speed and quickness through the offensive zone, picked up an assist and helped exhaust the Vikings’ defense.
The rematch is set for Saturday, again at 7 p.m. with the visiting Vikings.