The Daily Illini

Hockey dominates MSU

Junior+forward+Bobby+Ernsting+smiles+as+he+skates+with+his+teammates.+Ernsting+and+his+teammates+kicked+off+the+start+of+the+Illini+hockey+season+with+two+consecutive+wins+over+Michigan+State%2C+scoring+10+goals+in+each+of+the+two+games.
Junior forward Bobby Ernsting smiles as he skates with his teammates. Ernsting and his teammates kicked off the start of the Illini hockey season with two consecutive wins over Michigan State, scoring 10 goals in each of the two games.

Junior forward Bobby Ernsting smiles as he skates with his teammates. Ernsting and his teammates kicked off the start of the Illini hockey season with two consecutive wins over Michigan State, scoring 10 goals in each of the two games.

Elisabeth Neely

Elisabeth Neely

Junior forward Bobby Ernsting smiles as he skates with his teammates. Ernsting and his teammates kicked off the start of the Illini hockey season with two consecutive wins over Michigan State, scoring 10 goals in each of the two games.

By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

Throughout its recent playing history, Michigan State hockey has been outclassed by Illinois, and this past weekend was no exception.

In what was a strong opening to the season, the Illinois men’s club hockey team improved to 2-0 after defeating Michigan State in back-to-back matches, winning 10-3 Friday and 10-0 Saturday.

“I thought that Friday night left a little bit to be desired from a defensive standpoint,” said head coach Nick Fabbrini. “Some of our veteran defenders that we look to count on didn’t have particularly strong games, but it was our first game of the year, so it can be expected to play out like that.  But tonight was way better; we cleaned up a lot of issues we had from Friday night and got into a zone defensively.”

Scoring in double figures both games, the Illini were able to spread the wealth around and keep the Spartans on their toes throughout both matches. Illinois opened Friday with three goals in the first period, scored by sophomore Thomas Kolaz, junior Luke Forfar and freshman Kacper Ryba.

Michigan State responded to the hot start with a quick run of its own in the second period, and Illinois spent the time playing short-handed following a penalty by sophomore Jack Healy; however, the Illini would rally with two more goals to head into the third.

From there, the Illini took over. With about nine minutes remaining in the final period, sophomore Justin Ries scored his third goal of the game to push their lead up 7-2, becoming the first player to score a hat trick for the Illini this year. Four goals later, Illinois walked out 1-0 with a 10-3 victory.

On Saturday, the Illini got right back to their game plan and made life miserable for the Spartans. After finishing off the first period up 3-0, two goals from junior Evan Sabo and senior Stephen Quinn in the first two minutes of the second period pushed their lead up 5-0.

Quinn would become the second Illini of the weekend to score a hat trick after netting another short-handed goal to go up 6-0. Illinois never looked back and continued applying the pressure to shut out Michigan State on Saturday 10-0.

“Getting scoring from up and down the lineup was a big part of why we were successful last year,” Fabbrini said. “I think this team is very much built the same way. We’ve got four lines that on any given night could be the one that not only scores one but scores a couple. We have guys that can score at home, on the road and in tournament situations. We’ve got a lot of offensive fire powers, and tonight, we were playing the right way.”

The Illini hope this is the start of another strong season, as they are looking to make a second-consecutive ACHA Championship appearance.

“In terms of moving forward, we should take the good out of these matches,” Fabbrini said. “But we also have to be aware that towards the end of the regular season and in tournament play, we’re going to see teams that are faster and a little bit more talented. We’re happy with the adjustments we made tonight, but I think we all understand that we’ve got a ways to go to get back to where we want to be.”

@jaredEfarmer

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