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Illinois gets series win against Illinois State

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Illinois gets series win against Illinois State

Illinois club hockey players take the ice against Michigan State on Sept. 28-29 at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

Illinois club hockey players take the ice against Michigan State on Sept. 28-29 at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

Photo courtesy of Claudine Barnhart

Illinois club hockey players take the ice against Michigan State on Sept. 28-29 at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

Photo courtesy of Claudine Barnhart

Photo courtesy of Claudine Barnhart

Illinois club hockey players take the ice against Michigan State on Sept. 28-29 at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.

By Jared Farmer, Staff Writer

Sparked by a late third- quarter rally on Saturday, the Illinois hockey team completed a series sweep against Illinois State this past weekend at the UI Ice Arena.

“I think we played well,” said junior Evan Sabo. “We had a few mistakes and our structure wasn’t the best, but everyone was working hard, the energy on the bench was really high and overall it was a good game for us. I think we would’ve liked to put more goals in as a group, but we’ll take what we can get.”

Illinois contained Illinois State with some great defensive effort. For much of the first period on Friday, the game remained tightly contested, with neither team scoring in the first 15 minutes. With 4:27 left in the first, senior Stephen Quinn put the Illini up 1-0 while the Redbirds’ Adam Howey was in the penalty box. Twenty seconds later, junior Rick Hatton would score a second goal to put the Illini up 2-0.

The Illini would score two more goals in the second and third periods by Sabo and fellow junior Luke Forfar, respectively. Early in the third period, goalie Jake Barnhart made a big save with his glove that kept the Redbirds from getting on the board as the Illini won the match 4-0. The victory marks the second career shutout for Barnhart.

“I thought Friday was a pretty good game, but it was still a little sloppy in some areas,” said head coach Nick Fabbrini. “Even though we shut them out, we gave up a few breakaways and some really good scoring chances that you don’t think you’d give up in a 4-0 win. That really was a big point of emphasis (Saturday) morning.”

The Redbirds tightened up on some issues in the rematch.  At the 12:08 mark in the first, Illinois was able to get on the scoreboard due to a penalty shot by sophomore Jon Moskaluk and go up 1-0.

With multiple players on both sides sent to the penalty box throughout the second half, the Redbirds tied the game 1-1 on a goal by Connor Bosaccey.

“A lot of the game consisted of penalties and special teams, so as long as we stayed focused as a team on the penalty kill and power plays throughout the game, we ended up fine,” Sabo said. “We were able to bear down on our chances which was exactly what we needed.”

The Illini came out in the third aggressively, but were unable to connect on their shot attempts against goalie Cory Wasilewski throughout the first seven minutes of the period. After a couple of minutes exchanging possessions with the Redbirds, sophomore defender Joe Nolan scored off an assist by sophomore Drew Richter to put Illinois back up 2-1.

A few minutes later with 5:21 left in the third, sophomore Thomas Kolaz would ice the game with another goal to put the Illini up 3-1. Richter would score another goal in the closing seconds of the match to extend the Illini’s lead to 4-1. With the victory, the Illini improve to 4-0 on the season.

“We’ve always talked about being in a position to win it in the third period, and we feel like when we’re playing we like our chances, no matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing. We’re focused on sticking to the process and believing in what we do,” Fabbrini said. “It’s a 60-minute game. It’s not ‘play for 45 minutes and if that’s not working, go to something else’, so in that sense we did a good job sticking to what we do, playing fast and getting bodies and pucks to the net, and towards the end, it finally paid off.”

@jaredefarmer

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