Illini win game, secure spot in ACHA National Championship game

By Wes Anderson

A pair of clutch third-period goals helped the Illinois hockey club to slip past No. 6 seed Liberty 4-2 on Tuesday. The win secured the Illini a spot in Wednesday’s ACHA National Championship game.

Forward Jordan Pringle scored twice, and Liberty’s Dave Semenyna netted both Flames goals in a hard-fought, physical semifinal.

The heavily favored Illini took control early, scoring two goals to jump ahead 2-0 after the first period.

However, in a spirited bid to upset the nation’s top-ranked team, the Flames’ physical offense forced the Illini to commit many crucial mistakes on defense. Semenyna took advantage of a clumsy Illinois power play by notching a shorthanded goal in the second period, shrinking the lead to 2-1.

But the Illini cleared some crucial breathing room in the third period when Pringle added a breakaway goal to extend the lead to 3-1. Semenyna’s second goal again brought the deficit to one, but Illini forward Jason Nemeth tacked on an empty-net score to ensure the Illini would advance.

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“We definitely didn’t play our best game tonight,” head coach Chad Cassel said in a postgame interview. “We played well enough to win, but we’re going to need a much better effort tomorrow.”

Illinois will meet either Lindenwood or Delaware, the two teams playing in Tuesday night’s second semifinal, for the national title on Wednesday. The game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT faceoff and will be webcast on