Illinois allows late-game goals, drops two


Elisabeth Neely

Thomas Kolaz challenges for the puck Nov. 2 against Robert Morris. Kolaz scored twice in the Illini’s 6-4 defeat against the Colonials.

By Miles Powers-Huang

In two matches, both decided late in the third period, the Illinois club hockey team suffered back-to-back losses against Davenport.

The Illini got on the board early during Friday’s match, with sophomore Thomas Kolaz’s first goal of the evening three minutes into the first period. However, after teddy bears were thrown on to the ice as part of the Illinois club hockey team’s charity event, Davenport began to kick it into gear, responding with two goals to finish the first period up 2-1.

Although Davenport failed to score during a power play that sent freshman Kacper Ryba to the penalty box, they continued to control the tempo of the game with a momentous second period run, scoring three goals by the 4:22 mark to take a 5-1 lead.

“We just weren’t picking guys up in rush situations or in the defensive zone, and that’s the same thing that cost us on Saturday,” said head coach Nick Fabbrini. “We just didn’t have the right coverage.”

The Illini found their rhythm in the third period and made the match more competitive. Ilinois had an explosive start to the period behind two early goals by junior Bobby Ernsting and Kolaz to cut the Davenport lead to two. The next 10 minutes would be a drought for both teams, ending with an Illini goal by junior Luke Forfar. Down by just one, Illinois attempted to tie the score, but a late goal from Davenport with minimal time left on the clock proved to be too hard to overcome for Illinois.

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“Our effort shows that we didn’t quit on Friday,” Fabbrini said. “But again, as soon as we got to 5-4, we blew our coverage, and next thing you know, it’s 6-4 and the game is over.”

Davenport was the first on the board in Saturday’s matchup with an early goal, but a response from Ryba tied the score with just under 6 minutes left in the first. Ryba scored another goal just 40 seconds into the second period to give the Illini a 2-1 lead, while a couple of key saves from Illini junior goalie Jake Barnhart and an energized effort held Davenport scoreless in the second.

After holding a five-to-four advantage on the power play in the third, Illinois was unable to score despite keeping the puck on Davenport’s side of the rink. Shortly after the power play, Davenport responded with a goal midway through the period to tie the score. Neither team scored for the next five minutes until another late goal put Davenport up 3-2 with 4:13 on the clock. A late penalty would give Illinois a chance to convert on the power play, but the Panthers managed to keep the Illini from taking advantage of the mismatch, holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game.

After the two losses, the Illini are now 10-9 for the season, while the Panthers improve to 16-2.

“We need to be better,” Fabbrini said. “We need to cut down on the mistakes we’re making and be a better hockey team. We’re just not a great hockey team right now.”


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