Tyler Jackson and Dan Otis, who skated in Life West uniforms for the last time Tuesday night, helped the Life West hockey team end its season on a high note. The squad’s final game of the 2019-20 campaign, at Solar4America Ice at Fremont, was a 14-3 victory over the Blue Jays. Life West’s season record finished at a dominant 20-2.
The outcome of Tuesday’s game was never in doubt. The Gladiators scored six goals in the first period, including five in a stretch of less than five minutes. Fraser Oliver had four goals and two assists, ending the season with 33 goals and 32 assists and putting him at the top in both categories for the Solar4America Ice at Fremont Adult Hockey League (SIAHL).
Tuesday’s contest was especially poignant for Jackson and Otis. Jackson had three goals and two assists in the win, while Otis added two goals and five assists. After the game, the seniors took a victory lap around the ice, cheered on by their teammates and members of the Life West community who came out to see them play.
“That wasn’t planned at all,” Jackson said with a smile after he came off the ice. “Somebody just said, ‘you guys should take a victory lap,’ and we thought it’d be fun just to take one last trip around the ice.”
“It was bittersweet,” Otis added. “It’s always fun playing with the boys. This is the most fun team I’ve ever been on.”
Both Jackson and Otis have already secured post-graduate positions. Jackson will practice in British Columbia, Canada, and Otis will work with 2019 WAVE speaker Lona Cook, DC, at her practice in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The Gladiators separated themselves from their SIAHL competition early in the season. Life West won the first 10 games of the campaign and outscored the opposition with a combined score of 100-27.
After dropping a pair of contests in December while students were taking final exams and traveling for the winter break, Life West returned to the ice in January. With a full squad of skaters, Life West ended the regular season on another 10-game win streak. Five Gladiators ended the season with spots among the top-10 point-scorers in the league, and goalie Andrew Crawford posted the league’s only shutout of the entire season.
Throughout the season, members of the squad spoke highly of the team’s camaraderie and the mood in the locker room. That remained consistent after Tuesday night’s season finale.
“I’ve been here for three and a half years, and to have hockey once a week with this group of guys has been an absolute blast,” Jackson said. “I don’t think I ever had a bad day coming to the rink to play hockey.”