The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois hockey heads to McKendree for road doubleheader

Senior+defenseman+Atticus+Helfer+guards+the+puck+against+DePaul+on+Jan.+19.
Matt Stepp
Senior defenseman Atticus Helfer guards the puck against DePaul on Jan. 19.

Illinois hockey (10-10) hits the road once again for the weekend as it takes on McKendree (12-13) to bring in the new month.

After a weekend filled with mixed emotions against Purdue Northwest, Illinois was able to to split the weekend. Both games ended with a final score of 3-2, with road teams winning on both ends of the half-and-half doubleheader. The Illini handed the Pride their sixth loss of the year in the upset.

“If you look at last week’s practice, we had a really good week which bled into the weekend,” said head coach John Opilka. “Every night we are competing, and the expectation is that we are winning games.”

The last time the Bearcats and the Illini went up against each other saw both teams taking a win in Champaign-Urbana. As Illinois goes into McKendree’s home ice, the goal will be to steal some road wins of its own, which is an opportunity that Illinois does not take for granted.

“You relish in the fact of having an opportunity to go and beat someone in their own rink,” Opilka said. 

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    McKendree’s season has seen a good turnaround. Despite sitting at 12-13 on the year, the Bearcats have won five of their last seven and are riding a three game win streak. Momentum from a nail-biting win at Iowa State (4-3) on Jan. 20 rolled into a high scoring double header against Northern Illinois last weekend, notching 20 total goals across the three contests. 

    McKendree is currently one game behind .500 but have accumulated 36 points as a result of playing more games. As for the Illini, they see themselves at 28 points and are fifth in their division. 

    “McKendree does a really good job of having four lines and six to seven defenseman that can all play and come in waves,” Opilka said. “It is important for us to the little things and do what it takes to win.”

    With having its sights on winning this weekend, Illinois is going into the weekend with some injuries. Sophomore goalie Nolan Woodring has been officially ruled out for the season with a low body injury. Even though Woodring will not finish the year, he helped Illinois protect the net for the seven games when senior goalie Ben Mazurek was ruled out midseason. Woodring ended the season with nine saves and only 27 goals allowed to go along with a 6-1 record and a 90.6% save percentage. 

    February is the final month of Illinois hockey, and as the schedule winds down, it will look to make a push in hopes of finishing the season strong. Illinois will face off against McKendree in O’Fallon, Illinois, on Friday at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. 

     

    @Jon_Mathew23

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