Illinois hockey team swept in weekend at Iowa State

By Joey Figueroa

It was a rough weekend in Ames, Iowa, for the No. 19 Illinois hockey team, as they were swept by the No. 9 Iowa State Cyclones.

Despite a good opening period, the Illini were outplayed for the majority of Friday night’s 5-2 defeat, and even though it was more tightly contested, Saturday night’s rematch ended with the Illini packing their bags and heading home with nothing to show for their trip to Iowa.

“It was a pretty heartbreaking loss, so the whole bus ride back was pretty quiet,” senior captain Austin Bostock said. “I know a lot of guys were really upset and kind of taking it pretty hard, especially with only a couple weeks left here before they announce nationals.”

Illinois’ best chance to grab a much-needed road win was Saturday night in a game that was tied until midway through the final period.

After a scoreless first, both teams traded goals in the second period until it was 2-2 heading into the third. 

The Illini responded to each of the Cyclones’ second period goals within minutes, and that included sophomore forward Yoshi Shibata’s first goal as an Illini.

Illinois had a decent amount of good looks on offense in the third period but wasn’t able to capitalize. 

Iowa State did capitalize, however, breaking the tie halfway through the period and locking down Illinois on its way to a 4-2 victory over the Illini.

“It was a great hockey game, we just came up a little bit short,” head coach Nick Fabbrini said. “That’s what happens when you play a team that plays as tight defensively as Iowa State.”

Fabbrini thought the Illini played with the same level of energy and desperation Saturday that they have been the past few weekends, but that was not the case for the entire game on Friday.

After a great opening period in which Illinois outshot Iowa State 19-10 and generated a 2-0 lead, the Cyclones scored three goals in a four-minute span in the second period to take the lead and would never look back.

“We stopped playing with speed, which is how we beat them in the first (period),” Bostock said. “I think we let up a little bit when we got a two-goal lead and I think we got a little too comfortable. They scored three quick goals and took the wind right out of our sails.”

After an emotional weekend split at home, going on the road proved to be tough for the Illini; however, they don’t accept that as an excuse for the weekend sweep.

“Playing on the road is a lot tougher than playing at home, especially when they score and the horns and music go off and the fans are yelling and screaming at you,” Bostock said. “But I think the biggest part in the loss on Saturday was that they had a lot of good chances and they capitalized on it, and we didn’t score as many (goals) as we needed to.”

Joey can be reached at [email protected] and @joeyfigueroa3.