Men’s hockey wins pair at home

Mens hockey wins pair at home

By Jason Grodsky

To say the Illinois men’s hockey club was focused in the games following their first loss of the season would be an understatement.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association’s No. 1-ranked Illini pounded out 20 goals in its two games against the No. 10-ranked Michigan-Dearborn Wolves, beating the Wolves 13-2 and 7-2 over the weekend at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

“It was a big bummer having a week-long break after a loss, so we knew with a month break coming up we wanted to get rolling into the second semester,” sophomore forward Jordan Pringle said. “It was big for us to get two convincing wins going into break.”

Illinois came out Friday night wanting to send a message, and did just that, lighting up the scoreboard for 13 goals.

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Pringle led the Illini with three goals while four other Illini tallied two goals, including junior forward Alex Park, who also added two assists on the night.

In total, 13 Illini players had their name written on the scorecard at least once with either a goal or an assist. Illinois’ 13 goals were the second most scored in a game by the Illini this season. Illinois scored 16 in a 16-0 rout over St. Louis back on Oct. 7.

“We made an emphasis to come out strong,” Park said. “We know we shouldn’t have lost to a team like Kent (State) and we wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

The Illini didn’t have quite the offensive explosion in the second game of the weekend, but still managed to net seven goals against the Wolves.

Park led the Illini with three more goals on Saturday night, all coming via shots from the point on Illinois power plays. Sophomore forward Jason Nemeth also added two goals to go into break as Illinois’ leading goal scorer with 14 on the season.

Coming off a 0-for-10 performance on the power play in the loss to Kent State, Illinois scored eight power play goals and allowed just two.

A big reason for the Illini’s defensive success was their ability to shut down Steve Rademacher, the ACHA’s points leader and top goal scorer. The Michigan-Dearborn senior forward came into the weekend averaging 2.2 points per game and 1.55 goals per game but only tallied one goal all weekend.

“We didn’t give them anything, we made them earn it,” Cassel said. “They really rely on that top line and we matched up a couple of our top defensemen against them to help shut them down.”

With the two wins, the Illini guarantee themselves at least a share of first place in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League standings heading into the break with a 9-1 league record.

Illinois will resume game play on the weekend of Jan. 5, 2007, when the Illini take on the North Dakota State Bison in Fargo, N.D.