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College hockey: COC wins national title

Cougars beat Hope College 5-3 in American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III finals

Posted: March 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

California teams aren’t known for fielding good hockey teams, much less winning championships.
But College of the Canyons hockey just did.

With a 5-3 victory over Hope College on Saturday in Holland, Mich., COC became the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III National Tournament champs.

“We always had the philosophy that we were going to win and we were going to take the toughest rout we could to get there,” said Cougars head coach John Taferner, whose team finished with a perfect 26-0 record.

The Cougars became the first team out of their league, the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association, to win a national title of any kind, according to Taferner.

Last year, the team finished fifth in the tournament. COC took 14th in 2009.

This year, the Cougars capped off the tournament the same way they won most of their games — imposing their will on the opponent.

In this case, it was Hope, which was playing on its home ice in front of a packed house of more than 2,000 fans, almost all of whom were supporting the Flying Dutchmen.

“There was no doubt,” Taferner said of the hostile environment. “We were not allowed to have any doubts.”

COC center Brian Voogt scored two goals in the game and was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammate and goalie Michael McGrath, who was also named the tournament’s MVP.

Andy Jakiel, Zack Flaschner and Tyler Gilmore also scored in the game, with Gilmore’s third-period goal sealing the deal after a late three-goal rally by Hope.

The Cougars beat State University College at Fredonia (4-3), Loyola University Maryland (5-4), Saginaw Valley State University (4-1) and California University of Pennsylvania (2-1) to earn the spot in the finals of the 16-team tournament.
Coming into the tournament, COC had beaten every team it played by at least two goals, but the ACHA teams played a different brand of hockey than it was used to.

“We were beating our opponents by big numbers in the regular season, but I knew we could adjust,” Taferner said.
Adjust they did — and now they’re champions.


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