Illinois hockey continues undefeated start

Illinois%27+Eric+Cruickshank+carries+the+puck+up+the+ice+during+the+game+against+Lindenwold+University+at+the+Ice+Arena+on+Saturday%2C+January+30.+The+Illini+lost+4-1.

Austin Yattoni | The Daily Illin

Illinois’ Eric Cruickshank carries the puck up the ice during the game against Lindenwold University at the Ice Arena on Saturday, January 30. The Illini lost 4-1.

By Drake Pena, Staff writer

Illinois hockey remains undefeated this season, after playing three games in three consecutive days.

The Illini started their mini-marathon on Thursday, defeating rival Illinois State.

The Redbirds took the game to the wire, sending the match to overtime, and Aaron Dusek scored the game winner, giving Illinois a 3-2 victory.

Illinois led the game until the third period when ISU forward Drew Mussey found the net to even up the closely played contest. Power plays proved to be the difference with the Illini converting once on eight tries, and the Redbirds unsuccessful in their three tries.

Head coach Nick Fabbrini said the game was a great test of character for his squad, putting them in a winning mindset early on in the season.

“I think the fact that ISU played us so tough really showed me a lot about our squad,” Fabbrini said. “We need to come ready to play regardless of who we play.”

Games Two and Three came against Lewis University. Although Lewis began its season with a sub .500 record, the Flyers ended the 2015-2016 winning 20 of its final 28 games.

The Illini outscored the Flyers 14-4 in the two games, adding two more wins to their now 6-0 record.

“We played pretty well this weekend,” Fabbrini said. “We got away from our game a few times but for the most part we played how we wanted to and were able to get the job done.”

The first contest ended with a 6-2 score with only two total penalty minutes. Illinois won the final match 8-2, with the defense allowing less than 20 shots in both games.

After leading the team in goals last season, center Eric Cruickshank leads the team in points and goals through the first six games of the season. The junior added three more goals and assists to his already impressive stat line.

“Cruickshank has been playing very well so far this season,” Frabbrini said. “We put him on a line that he was pretty familiar with last season and it was a very good line for us.”

The team heads back home for the next two games this weekend against Indiana Tech.  The Warriors come to Champaign with a 4-0 record, including impressive showings versus Indiana. Indiana Tech also boasts an impressive third-period attack, having scored 15 goals in the third period alone.

[email protected]