Hockey team splits weekend series against Colorado State

Illinois+hockey+head+coach%2C+Nick+Fabrini%2C+speaks+to+the+team+during+the+game+against+Michigan+State+on+Saturday%2C+September+27th%2C+2014.

Illinois hockey head coach, Nick Fabrini, speaks to the team during the game against Michigan State on Saturday, September 27th, 2014.

By Daniel Dexter

With a chance to showcase its talents to Chicago fans, the Illinois hockey team won its first game this weekend in dominant fashion but saw its five game winning streak come to an end the very next night.

Illinois opened a series with Colorado State on Friday by putting on a clinic against the Rams, shutting them out in a 7-0 victory. The Rams, however, countered in the final game and the Illini were sent home with a 2-1 loss Saturday.

Head coach Nick Fabbrini said energy made the difference in the two games. The Illini came out and controlled the puck quickly Friday but couldn’t seem to find its rhythm for the majority of the game Saturday.

“I don’t think we brought anywhere near the same focus to the rink that we brought on Friday,” Fabbrini said. “I think that was pretty clear. We made a lot of simple mistakes. We didn’t start playing the way we want to play until about 30 or 35 minutes into the game.”

In Friday’s game, the Illini finished the first period with a 2-0 lead despite out-shooting Colorado State by only two shots.

Illinois used its momentum in the second and third periods to score five more goals and out-shoot the Rams 24-17. Left wing Jack Soneson and forward Jacob Matysiak led the way with two goals apiece.

“Even when the score was 4-0, we were still making the right decisions and not playing sloppy,” Matysiak said. “Regardless of what the score was, we played like the score was 0-0 the whole time.”

The second showed a different side of the then undefeated Illinois squad. Despite getting on the board first with a power play goal from defenseman Josh Baker, the Illini couldn’t hold on. The team fell behind in the second period and wasn’t able to make up the deficit in the third.

Matysiak thought the team took Colorado State too lightly Saturday after blowing the Rams out Friday. He said the players had complacency issues last year, when they would drop the second game after winning the first. Matysiak believes the team needs to approach every game the same way without getting too ahead of itself.

“We have to bring the same type of energy every game, no matter what the score of the game was the previous night,” Matysiak said. “That’s something we have to learn as a team and I think we all learned that last night.”

The team has two weeks to improve after its first regular season loss of the season. It will return for a home game against Michigan–Dearborn at the Big Pond.

“We didn’t take it one game at a time, and it haunted us,” Matysiak said. “I didn’t look at it as a streak coming to an end. It’s just a game. It’s unfortunate that we lost but hopefully it will give us a chance to start on another streak.”

Daniel can be reached at [email protected] and @ddexter23.