Lindenwood overpowers Illinois club hockey in weekend series
October 21, 2019
The Illinois club hockey team took on Lindenwood this weekend in a battle of two top-10 teams. However, the competition didn’t live up to the hype for the Illini.
The opening game of the series was a heavyweight bout, with both teams dishing out physical hits while still getting some shots on goal. After 12 minutes of identical play, the Illini broke the tie with senior forward Jon Moskaluk’s put-back goal.
“We got to our game right away,” said head coach Nick Fabbrini. “We made hard and simple plays earlier, and we had a lot of energy and speed.”
Illinois continued to play with a similar intensity and had numerous scoring opportunities, but Lindenwood goalie Cooper Seedott, who has a 94.4 save percentage, settled in well and squashed Illinois’ chance to balloon the lead.
With two minutes left in the first period after back-to-back missed shots, Lindenwood forward Hayden Dawes made his third time the charm, scoring on a put-back to tie the game up at 1-1, halting Illinois’ momentum.
The second period was all Lindenwood as the team quickly took charge with an unassisted goal by Colton Craigo to make it 2-1. With just a goal difference, the intensity was flaring on both sides, resulting in some unpenalized scrums. After staying consistent for a little bit longer, Illinois fell victim to a successful Lindenwood slapshot from the blue line. After two periods of play, Illinois faced a 3-1 deficit.
“When you face the number three team in the country, it’s going to be tough,” said Illinois captain Tyler Opilka. “They’re very fundamentally sound, and they don’t have a lot of weak spots.”
Scoring two goals in the final 20 minutes against Seedott proved to be too much for the Illini, as they came up empty-handed while giving up another goal with 13:18 left. At the end of the third period, the Lions walked away with an impressive 4-1 victory after scoring the final four goals of the game.
The competition didn’t get any better on the road Saturday for the Illini.
The Lions came out rolling after the Illini traveled to Lindenwood for part two of the series, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of play. Fabbrini had to burn his one and only timeout immediately.
“We were totally flat,” Fabbrini said. “We took a huge step back.”
The rest of the period was smoother for Illinois after the timeout as the team shut out Lindenwood over the final 14 minutes, but the shutout didn’t continue.
The Lindenwood offense exploded in the second period, scoring three goals while Illinois couldn’t manage to score any. After two periods of play and a five-goal deficit, Fabbrini decided to pull goalie Elliot Gerth in favor of Jake Barnhart.
“Elliot didn’t get any help from our defense tonight,” Fabbrini said. “Barnhart didn’t get any help either.”
Despite putting in Barnhart for the final 20 minutes, Lindenwood still dominated the period, outscoring Illinois 3-0. Once the final buzzer sounded, Lindenwood secured an 8-0 victory, finishing off the weekend sweep.
“We played a good 20 minutes this week and a bad 100 minutes,” Fabbrini said. “It’s not going to get any easier.”
Illinois looks to rebound from losing four out of its last five games and turn it around in the Chicago Classic. It’s unclear whether Illinois will be playing Minot State, Davenport or the University of Nevada, at Las Vegas.