Illinois hockey sweeps Indiana, hopes for national tournament bid

By Sean Neumann

The Illinois hockey team (19-16-2) swept Indiana (6-17-2) this weekend, but it still may not be enough to propel the team into the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament.

The No. 19 Illini defeated the Hoosiers 6-3 on Saturday night after a 12-0 shutout Friday, but the team is still uncertain about whether it will be selected for the national tournament when the ACHA selection show takes place Monday.

Illinois’ chance at making the ACHA national tournament is up to the discretion of the league’s computerized rankings — which is being used for the first time in the league’s 22-year history.

Indiana came into the weekend in last place in the CSCHL conference, with the Hoosiers only win coming against the Illini earlier this season on Nov. 16 (2-1).

Senior forward John Scully helped Illinois to a two-game sweep with five goals on the weekend, including a hat trick during the first period of Friday night’s 12-0 win.

“It was fun out there,” Scully said. “It was one of those things where the puck was just kind of finding me and I was not as much trying to run around out there, but just trying to find the soft areas, go hard to the net and bang it in.”

Illinois took Friday night’s game easily, exploding for a seven-goal first period en route to a 12-0 shutout. Indiana responded on Saturday night, as the Hoosiers were able to put three goals past sophomore goaltender Joe Olen, but weren’t able to keep up with Illinois’ onslaught which brought 60 shots on goaltender Jimmy Rosen.

“We came in this weekend and knew what’s at stake,” freshman defense Cody von Rueden said. “Our season’s on the line and when you can gain chemistry like that early and put in seven goals right away, that’s what you want to do. You want to get the ball rolling, you want to put them down and you don’t want them to get in the game.”

Illinois had 127 shots on the weekend, while Indiana had just 50. Indiana’s freshman goaltender Jordy Reizen got the brunt of it on Friday night, facing 67 shots and allowing 12 goals, while having to block out a vocal Illini crowd.

Indiana’s only salvation on Friday night came during a 15-minute delay in the second period after Scully put a thunderous hit on a Hoosiers defenseman, jarring the glass loose behind the net.

Tensions between the CSCHL rivals finally boiled over on Saturday night after Illini captain Austin Bostock was ejected in the third period following a late-hit on Indiana sophomore Sam Linder, who remained on the ice with an apparent upper-body injury.

Illini head coach Nick Fabbrini confirmed Austin Bostock would not face a suspension from the league following the game misconduct penalty, but agreed with the referee’s call to eject the team captain.

“I don’t know what he was doing,” Fabbrini said. “I don’t think there was any intent there to hurt the kid, but you can’t make that play. Ever.”

With the Illini’s playoff hopes still in limbo, Fabbrini said the team remains nervous about the ACHA’s selection show, which will take place on Monday.

“I would hope that (this weekend’s sweep) is going to be enough,” Fabbrini said. “It’s going to be really close. It’s been a little bit of a tougher year than I was hoping for, but I think we’ve really come together here the last couple of weeks and we’ve been playing some of our best hockey of the season. I think if we get in, we’re going to be a really dangerous team.”

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @Neumannthehuman.