Illini hockey swept by Lindenwood


Photo courtesy of Claudine Barnhart

Illinois club hockey players take the ice against Michigan State on Sept. 28-29 at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

It was a tough weekend for Illini Hockey as the team dropped its two games against Lindenwood University.

On Friday, the Lions scored first midway through the opening period on a power play, courtesy of Aapo Nurminen. The Illini responded nearly two minutes later with a goal from Kacper Ryba to tie the score at one a piece, but the Lions scored another goal, coming from Victor Lombardi, to close the first period in the lead.

The Lions began to inch away in the second, scoring two goals in the first half of play and maintaining a three-goal lead on the Illini throughout much of the period. The Illini would cut the lead to two after a second goal score by Ryba toward the end of the second.

From there, the Lions took over.

Kyle Newman and Zach Mitchell scored two goals within the first six minutes of the third, giving them a comfortable four-goal lead. Holding the Illini scoreless in the period, the Lions would score one final goal in the closing seconds by Alex Kalau to extend their lead to 7-2 and secure the victory.

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“This was the best team we’ve played this year by far. They’re deep at every position; they’re talented, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” head coach Nick Fabbrini said. “On Friday, I thought we did a really good job playing with them for the first 40 minutes and stuck to our game. I thought we were a little gassed, but that can be chalked up to us being shorthanded due to injuries. We’ve played like this for a couple of games, but I think this is where that really showed.”

The Illini’s struggles continued onto Saturday’s matchup. Shayne Plummer got the Lions on the board with 14 minutes left in the first, and Jake Townsend scored another late in the period after the Illini failed to neutralize on a power play.

In the second period, the Lions continued to hold the advantage, increasing their lead to 4-0 off of two goals by Townsend and Nurminen. The Illini had a penalty kill and were on the power play again late in the second but were unable to shave the deficit as the period came to a close.

The Lions finished the final period with two more goals. Despite penalties putting Lindenwood players in the box, the Illini failed to score in the period, completing the shutout 6-0. With the wins, the Lions remain undefeated at 10-0, while the No. 4 ranked Illini move down to 6-5 on the season.

“You have to give this team a lot of credit. They’re the best, or second best, team in the country,” Fabbrini said. “So I think that being able to play the way we did for the first 40 minutes, even if we were on the receiving end of some missed calls, says a lot about our group.”


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