Hockey team powers its way to sweep of Hawkeyes

Hockey team powers its way to sweep of Hawkeyes

By Alex Paull

Behind what felt like a perpetual power play, the Illinois hockey team (22-4) scored early and often in a weekend sweep of Iowa, winning a pair of games, 8-2 and 11-4.

“We were expecting the games to be a little closer, more like the Indiana series,” captain Jordan Pringle said. “I think we just played better than we did last week. We did a better job this week of capitalizing on scoring chances.”

Being familiar with some of Iowa’s players, including goalie Will Dodge, didn’t hurt either. Unfortunately for Dodge, he was greeted with 95 shots by the Illini and 19 goals.

For the Hawkeyes, the final horn couldn’t have come fast enough.


photo DI multimedia


Illini sweep Hawkeyes

Click to view a slideshow.

“When you can get any kind of advantage over someone it helps,” junior Matt Jennings said of being familiar with some of Iowa’s tendencies. “We scored a lot on them, so it had to have helped a little bit.”

Although the power play was adequate on Friday while seniors Jason Nemeth and Johnny Liang served one-game suspensions, the unit certainly improved with them back on Saturday.

The Illini converted five of their six power plays, with Nemeth and Liang chipping in three goals and three assists between them.

“The power play played well,” Nemeth said.

“Some of our younger guys stepped up and we need that. That’s what we expected out of ourselves, we controlled the game.”

As dominant as the Illini were, the most satisfying aspect of the weekend may have been the maintained effort for both games.

“It was a good weekend for us finally,” Jennings said. “It’s been awhile since we played two good games back to back, and it’s happening at the right time of the season.”

The Illini will need that strong play on the road next weekend, as they head to Ohio University, a place they haven’t won in three seasons.

“It is a very difficult place to play,” head coach Chad Cassel said. “It’s a small surface, and they play very well at home. So we are going to have to have a good week of practice to win.”

For some of the older players whose careers are coming to a close, anything short than two wins is a disappointment.

“I’ve never won a game at Ohio, so it’s definitely a tough place to play,” Pringle said. “They have similar, passionate fans like here. We really want to sweep and won’t be satisfied with a split.”