Illinois hockey sweeps Illinois State, remains undefeated

Joey+Ritondale+%282%29+celebrates+with+his+teammates+after+a+goal+by+James+McGing+against+Michigan+State+at+the+Ice+Arena+on+Sept.+22.+Ritondale+scored+his+first+goal+of+the+season+in+this+weekend%E2%80%99s+home+game+against+ISU.++
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Illinois hockey sweeps Illinois State, remains undefeated

Joey Ritondale (2) celebrates with his teammates after a goal by James McGing against Michigan State at the Ice Arena on Sept. 22. Ritondale scored his first goal of the season in this weekend’s home game against ISU.

Joey Ritondale (2) celebrates with his teammates after a goal by James McGing against Michigan State at the Ice Arena on Sept. 22. Ritondale scored his first goal of the season in this weekend’s home game against ISU.

Elisabeth Neely

Joey Ritondale (2) celebrates with his teammates after a goal by James McGing against Michigan State at the Ice Arena on Sept. 22. Ritondale scored his first goal of the season in this weekend’s home game against ISU.

Elisabeth Neely

Elisabeth Neely

Joey Ritondale (2) celebrates with his teammates after a goal by James McGing against Michigan State at the Ice Arena on Sept. 22. Ritondale scored his first goal of the season in this weekend’s home game against ISU.

By Erich Fisher, Staff writer

By Erich Fisher

staff writer

The Illinois hockey team remains undefeated on the season after sweeping Illinois State at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, Illinois ,on Saturday.

The Illini registered 50 shots in game one and got five of them to go, each one from a different player. Game two was a similar story, with Illinois putting 37 shots on the board and scoring on seven.

“We’re really moving the puck well,” Illinois head coach Nick Fabbrini said. “We’ve talked all the time about moving pucks quickly and getting pucks to guys in space. We have a pretty talented group of forwards that when they do get pucks in space and time to make plays, a lot of times they are going to be able to do it.”

Game one’s first period was more of an adjustment phase for Illinois, going from the wide ice they play on in Champaign to the normal-sized rink they were skating on in Bloomington.

Freshman forward Andrew Richter netted the first goal of his career in the first period when the puck took an unusual bounce, then landed right in front of Richter’s stick. He then turned around and fired a wrist shot past ISU goaltender Marc Hayden.

The game opened significantly more for Illinois in the second period, during which the team added three more goals.

Senior defenseman Joey Ritondale got his first goal of the season after freshman defenseman Joe Nolan’s shot from the right slot allowed for a rebound opportunity and a wide-open net for Ritondale. Senior forward Grant Stueve acquired his first goal of the year when he buried a rebound opportunity.

“It felt good, but I mean, it’s more of the guys I play with,” Stueve said. “(Eric Cruickshank) just shoots the puck wherever and sometimes doesn’t go in and it comes on my stick and I put it in the net.”

In game two, there was no slow start for the Illini, who scored three of their seven goals in the opening period.

Senior forward Eric Cruickshank was the star of the night, getting two goals in the game.

His first came from a nice centering pass from Ritcher, who was driving behind the net. Cruickshank’s second came from a loose puck in front of the net which he backhanded past ISU goaltender Joey Garapolo’s glove side.

Senior forward James McGing had an impressive backhand toe-drag move that led to a two-on-one opportunity that was then finished off by junior forward David Kellner, his first goal of the season and the second of the first.

After dishing out several assists so far, this season, sophomore forward Chance Homerin finally found his first goal of the year after snapping a shot high-and-tight past Garapolo’s blocker in period two.

“It started with a faceoff in the offensive zone, and I just tried to get it back to Nolan,” Homerin said. “Nolan got it back to Kellner, then I found an open spot and Kellner fed me perfectly.”

The Redbirds once again managed to put a point on the board in the second frame, but much like the Friday matchup, they did not get anything else after that.

Going into next weekend’s home game against Northern Illinois, Fabbrini wants to see continued improvement from his team.

“We need to keep getting better,” Fabbrini said. “The key for us is not being satisfied. It’s about approaching every game like a championship game.”

@ETFisher24

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