Illini hockey blows lead, falls to Bobcats 7-5


Zoe Grant The Daily Illini Zev Grumet-Morris blocks a goal during the game against Oklahoma on January 31, 2015.

By Lucas Wright

It was a tale of two teams for Illini hockey against conference foe Ohio on Friday.

In its 7-5 loss to the Bobcats, Illinois showed its true potential on offense; however it also showed the inconsistency that the team has featured throughout the season.

The first team to take the ice for the Illini was the high-powered offense that has shown itself on occasions this year. It took only 18 seconds for senior captain John Olen to find the back of the net and give Illinois an early lead. Despite an equalizer from the Bobcats two minutes later, the Illini rattled off three more goals in the period, coming from sophomores James Mcging and Chris Lozinak along with junior Eric Saulters.

The flurry of scoring was much to the pleasure of head coach Nick Fabbrini, who was happy to see the team come out firing after only scoring one goal in its last outing with Lindenwood.

“We came out flying, we did everything that we wanted to do,” Fabbrini said. “We pressured their defensemen and we got pucks to the net. We got bodies in front of the net, which was everything we talked about doing.”

It seemed as though a completely different Illinois team took the ice for the second period. Following a penalty kill by the Bobcats, Ohio strung together three quick goals to even up the score, leaving the Illini dazed, which contributed to a mounting frustration for Illinois heading into the third period.

That period is when it all boiled over.

Ohio poured in three more goals over the course of the first 10 minutes of the period, completing a 6-0 run over the course of 30 minutes. Fabbrini pulled goalie Joe Olen for junior Zev Grumet-Morris, who finished out the game.

Following an altercation midway through the third period, Mcging was sent packing after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“Frustration boiled over I think,” Fabbrini said. “Gings thought the referee missed a call right in front of him, and got tied up with the guy and said something to the ref. The ref had apparently had enough at that point.”

The Illini added a short-handed goal late in the third on a misplay by the Bobcats, leading to an own goal that would later be credited to Illinois junior Aaron Dusek, but it had little effect on the momentum of the period as the Bobcats cruised to victory.

The Illini will have another chance at the No. 2 team in the conference Saturday, which will be their last regular season conference game. Fabbrini hopes to see a completely different atmosphere around his squad come Saturday night.

“(Tonight’s game meant) nothing. It just means we have to come back and get a win tomorrow,” Fabbrini said. “We didn’t have a lot of fire tonight, so I hoped they saved some for tomorrow.”

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