Hockey rallies in third over Iowa, remains undefeated on home ice

By Jason Grodsky

After two periods of play against No. 6-ranked Iowa State, the No. 1-ranked Illinois men’s hockey team looked as if it would lose its first home game of the season, but the Illini managed an incredible comeback in the third period of game one to cripple the Cyclones and pull off the sweep.

Illinois’ three, third-period goals in Friday night’s game gave the Illini a 3-2 win heading into Saturday’s finale, where the Illini rode the momentum to a 3-0 victory. The two wins allowed the Illini to pick up eight points in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League.

“It’s always nice to beat Iowa State, especially at home in front of our fans,” Assistant Coach Darin Trulock said. “I don’t think we played our best Saturday, but the comeback Friday night was very exciting.”

The Illini arguably played their toughest home game of the season Friday night. Illinois found itself behind just 36 seconds into the game after Iowa State forward Mike Murtaugh lit the lamp to give the Cyclones a 1-0 advantage. The Cyclones extended their lead later in the period with a power-play goal by junior Jayson Peterson.

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Iowa State maintained their two-goal lead heading into the third period, and senior goaltender Trent Baker and the Cyclones looked as if they may be on their way to handing the Illini their first home loss of the season.

“We had outplayed them all night,” Darin Trulock said. “We were generating a lot of offense and they weren’t getting a lot of chances. It was just a matter of time before we found the back of the net.”

Three minutes into the final period junior defenseman Ricky Gomez scored his first goal of the season. Illinois tied the game just three minutes later with a power-play goal by sophomore defenseman Pat Mannina.

With just over two minutes remaining in regulation and the game tied, Illinois’ hottest player, sophomore forward Jordan Pringle, took center stage.

After the Illini intercepted an Iowa State pass, Pringle crossed into the Cyclone’s zone and roofed a shot into the back of the net for his fifth goal in as many games.

“That was a fun goal,” Pringle said. “I was just really happy for the entire team after it went in. DeGeorge and our defensemen had played a great game and that was a big win for us.”

On Saturday night the Illini picked up right where they left off the previous night.

Midway through the first period, newcomer defenseman Colin Trulock, fired a slap shot from the point passed the Iowa State goalie for his first career goal as an Illini.

Illinois tallied two more goals in the second period, one on a shorthanded goal by senior defenseman Alex Tauchen and the other a deflection by Pringle.

Illini senior goaltender Mike DeGeorge shut down the Cyclones the rest of the way, turning away all shots, including a penalty shot in the second period to record his third shutout of the season. DeGeorge hasn’t allowed a goal in his last five periods in net.

“It’s easy when you have guys coming home to crash the net and clear the rebounds in front of me,” DeGeorge said. “Right now we just need people to step up in a big way and I’m glad I’ve been able to help.”

With the wins the Illini inched closer to CSCHL leader Ohio. The Illini are in second place in the CSCHL with 48 points, just four behind the league-leading Bobcats.

Illinois has a weekend off from league play with two home games next weekend against ACHA Division-II opponent DePaul.