Illinois falls to Lindenwood in split series


Elisabeth Neely

Neil Novosel (14) skates past Lindenwood’s players to gain possession of the puck at the Ice Arena on Friday, Dec. 1. Illini won in overtime 2-1.

By Danielle Williams, Staff writer

Early in the season, Lindenwood broke Illinois’ undefeated record with a split series. Unfortunately for the Illini, the same result occurred after this weekend’s series.

The Illini had a slow start as the Lions struck early in the first period. Jordan Klimovsky scored the first goal of the series, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.

Illinois’ offense moved faster into transition than they did in game one, but they were unable to score a goal in the first period.

The game remained scoreless, but not

uneventful. Only three minutes into the first, sophomore Mark Candotti lost his blade, forcing him to miss out on most of the first action.

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    Five minutes into the second period of Saturday’s game, senior goaltender David Heflin secured a sharp save for the Illini, but his victory was short-lived: The Lions scored a power-play goal that put them on the board.

    One of the Illini’s strengths this season has been penalty kills, but their 0-4 on the power play this series says otherwise.

    “Penalty kills have been one of our strengths up until this point,” said head coach Nick Fabbrini. “Tonight, their first one was a bad rotation, the second one we didn’t get a block from the point and the third one was a five-on-three.”

    Illinois pushed through as sophomore transfer, Evan Sabo, acquired the first goal of his career with the Illini at the end of the second period which carried on throughout regulation. Sabo joined Illinois at the start of the season from Illinois State.

    Freshman forward Drew Richter’s overtime goal secured Illinois’ first win on home ice since its matchup against Ohio early in November.

    “It’s a very big ice so we had to make sure that we were man-to-man, but I thought we did a pretty good job on Friday,” forward Grant Stueve said. “It was our first experience for everyone on the line, but I thought we played well and ended up getting the win at the end of the game.”

    Freshman forward Joe Nolan put the Illini back on the map during game two with 9:47 left in the second and, as true to the tradition, the teddy bears were finally thrown.

    Following right behind, Lindenwood put one in securing a spot ahead of Illinois at 2-1, setting the tone for the rest of the game and leaving Illinois defeated 4-1 in the series finale.

    Illinois’ next match-up won’t be until a month from now on Jan. 5 against Robert Morris, but Fabbrini looks forward to getting as much as they can out of these last few practices this semester.

    “I thought we had a lot of good chances, we just couldn’t bear down and finish,” Fabbrini said. “Both five-on-five and on the power play there was scramble situations in the front and we had some guys fan on some pucks in front of the next. We just have to do a better job at finishing when we get those opportunities.”

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