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VALENCIA FLYERS NOTEBOOK: FLYERS HOPE FOR SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT AGAINST COC.

Byline: Gideon Rubin Staff Writer

VALENCIA - The Valencia Flyers are in an exciting playoff race, but the buzz this week is about an exhibition with no impact on their postseason prospects.

Instead, the Santa Clarita Valley's amateur hockey bragging rights will be at stake when the Flyers play the College of the Canyons club team tonight at 8:30.

The game is being held to raise money for both teams, who'll split the game's revenue. Canyons recently qualified for the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division III club-team nationals, which will be held in Michigan next month. The Flyers are hoping funds raised will help defer out-of-pocket costs to players involved if they qualify for the playoffs.

The matchup is intriguing because almost everyone on both teams either played with or knows somebody they'll be playing against. Former Flyers defenseman Blake Low now plays for Canyons.

``Whoever wins that game gets to bag on the other team,'' Flyers goalie Travis Cottom said. ``That's the fun part.''

The Flyers are coming off one of their most impressive victories of the season, a 5-1 road win against the San Diego Surf on Sunday, and are hoping to build more momentum for an eagerly anticipated matchup against the second-place Bay City Bombers, whom they play Saturday on the road.

``If we win Friday night's game against a team that's going to nationals, then we can go, `Yeah, maybe we can go beat the Bombers,' '' Cottom said.

--Playoff push: The victory against San Diego pushed the Flyers (14-19, 28 points) within five points of the third-place Roseville Capital Thunder (16-19-1) and four points of the fourth-place Surf (15-18).

But with five regular-season games remaining, Valencia's margin for error is minimal.

The good news for the Flyers is that Roseville has just three games remaining - all against the unbeaten Phoenix Polar Bears.

Also, after playing Bay City (29-4), Valencia has a favorable schedule. It plays three games on the road against the Nevada Rattlers (2-27), then concludes its season at home March 7 against San Diego, a team it seems to match up well against.

Regardless of what happens in the Bay City game, if the Flyers sweep Nevada, their last regular-season game against the Surf likely will determine third place.

--Short-handed: Coach Ryan Rockabrand was especially pleased with his team's play in the San Diego game because the Flyers were short-handed most of the game.

Forward Nicholas McGowan missed the game for personal reasons, and defenseman Kris Escobar was ejected for facemasking, leaving the team with 10 skaters and two lines.

``It was a big win for us because everyone showed up, and Travis (Cottom) played a great game,'' Rockabrand said.

--Cut to the Chase: Valencia's Pee Wee team (11- and 12-year-olds) won the A division title at a Presidents Day weekend tournament in Chicago. Tournament MVP Chase Burud led the team with eight goals.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 21, 2003
Words:480
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