Same matchup, different story for the Illinois hockey team.

The No.15 Illini dropped their weekend finale against the No. 1 ranked Lindenwood Lions on Saturday 4-1 after taking down the Lions 4-2 on Friday.

Saturday’s matchup featured some high emotions and much more physical play compared to the weekend’s first meeting.

Illinois opened the game where it left off Friday, as sophomore James Mcging scored a power play goal five and a half minutes into the first period to jump out to the early lead. Tempers flared late in the period as junior goalie Joe Olen was taken out on a breakaway, which prompted a short-lived scuffled that lead to multiple penalties.

The Lions evened up the tally at 1-1 in the first when senior Stephen Bopp scored his second goal of the weekend. A defensive lapse off a face-off allowed the Lions to score with two seconds left on the clock in the first to take a lead into the second period. The face-off occurred in the Illinois defensive zone due to the Illini icing the puck.

The second frame was a back-and-forth affair, as the Illini scrambled on defense throughout the first half of the period. Lindenwood added a third goal midway through the second courtesy of sophomore Jake Wynd, but the Illini could not respond the rest of the period. Mcging had multiple chances on fast breaks, but couldn’t capitalize, and he said the team started to feel the frustration.

“We dominated the second half of the period,” Mcging said. “We might have gotten complacent when we were up one to nothing, but I think we beared down and tried to turn it around there for a little bit at least.”

The story of the third period period was highlighted by multiple altercations and penalties on each side. The Lions got tagged with a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct, but the Illini couldn’t capitalize. Despite Olen’s best efforts in goal, Lindenwood went on to add another late goal and seal the matchup.

The Illini couldn’t establish themselves on the offensive end and head coach Nick Fabbrini gives all the credit to the adjustments that the Lions made from their prior matchup.

“They did a great job defensively, and we had a hard time generating offense over consistent stretches,” Fabbrini said. “When we were able to, we (played) in their end and generate some scramble opportunities and did a good job of getting pucks to the net. It just wasn’t quite enough tonight.”

Taking one of two games against the best team in the league could do a lot for the Illini moving forward, but Mcging said this one leaves somewhat of a bitter taste in their mouths.

“If you’d ask me on Thursday if (taking one of two games) would be successful I’d have said yes, but since we won last night, right now no I don’t think its great. I guess it’s OK.”

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