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

Iowa State Cyclones whirl into town to take on Illini hockey

Eric Chiang
Junior defensemen Harrison Slovick pushes forward during the game against Roosevelt on Oct. 27.

Illinois hockey (10-12) gets ready to start its final home game stretch of the season against Iowa State (8-9) this weekend at the Ice Arena. 

With two of its losses last weekend against McKendree, Illinois is looking to come back from the road trip and start to end its season off strong. Iowa State is coming into this weekend on a two-game skid as well, losing two in a row last weekend against Ohio. 

The regular season is almost nearing its end for Illinois, as this is the last month it will be playing for the 2023-24 season. Luckily for Illinois, it will end its season at home, with its final six games all being at the Ice Arena. 

Illinois’ record at home comes out just over .500, winning seven out of its 13 home games so far. As the players feed off the crowd, they will look to the home crowd to help end the season on a high note.

“There is no better feeling than winning at your own rink; it is important to cultivate a culture where you win at home,” said head coach John Opilka.

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In terms of recent overlap, Iowa State defeated McKendree when they met in late January (5-2). The rest of the Cyclones’ season has been filled with a lot of ups and downs. Since departing for winter break, Iowa State has struggled a bit, only winning three of its last nine games. 

Junior forward Everett Bestland leads the Cyclones in points scored (17) and has accumulated 10 goals on the season. While he is the only player with goals scored in the double digits, there has been help across the board. 

Leading the team in assists is freshman forward Mitch Krebsbach, with nine assists on the year. Unlike Illinois, Iowa State has a big goalie room and has rotated between four goalies all season long, with freshman goalie Harrison Moen leading the team with a 94% save percentage on 252 saves. Moen has led the Cyclones to six wins on the season.

“Iowa State is a really good team … It’s nonnegotiable for us this weekend,” Opilka said. “We have to play a complete 60 minutes. It is all about controlling the center of the ice.”

Illinois will look to get Iowa State off the platform and make them uncomfortable to make plays. Pushing the tempo to get Iowa State playing at a different pace and forcing them to make mistakes to take advantage will be key. 

The last time these two teams took the ice was back on Oct. 14. The Cyclones were able to take care of business, beating the Illini 6-1. Illinois had both senior goalie Ben Mazurek and junior goalie Nolan Woodring protecting the net last October, but with Woodring being out for the rest of the season, Mazurek will look to stop the Cyclones attack for a full 60 minutes this time around. 

Illinois and Iowa State will go head to head on the ice at the Ice Arena this weekend. The first game will be on Friday at 7 p.m. to kick off this series before returning Saturday to close out the weekend.



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