Hockey only happy with sweeps

Sarah Tomkinson Courier Staff

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It takes more than one victory per weekend to satisfy Western Illinois Hockey Club President Mitch Stevens.

Western (5-3), which plays Robert Morris University at 7:15 p.m. tonight and Saturday night at the Nelson Center in Springfield, Ill., recently split a pair of games against in-state rival Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, and Stevens wasn’t celebrating the victory as much as lamenting the defeat.

“These are games we should’ve easily won,” Stevens said of his team’s contests against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Oct. 21-22. The games were played at Western’s home arena, the Owens Center in Peoria.

Western won the first game 7-6 but dropped the rematch 6-3.

In the opener, Western winger Matt Jensen opened up the scoring, driving a shot past SIUE goalie Brandon Meyer less than five minutes into the game. Jensen added a second goal just after the 10-minute mark, giving Western a 2-0 lead.

In the second period, SIUE came back with goals by James Hautala and Nick Ringwald past Western goalie Cody Proctor to tie the game 2-2 with seven minutes left in the period.

Less than two minutes later, Pat Praxmarer stuffed the puck past Meyer to put Western ahead 3-2. SIUE’s Garrett Charton then tied the score 3-3 near the end of the period.

Ty Bigos’ goal to start the third period put Western back on top, 4-3. Stevens added to Western’s lead with a shorthanded goal three minutes into the period.

The Cougars then cashed in a power play, as Jeffrey Gaskill cut Western’s lead to 5-4. Goals by senior Anthony Gallo and Stevens then gave Western some breathing room at 7-4.

SIUE tried to mount a comeback with Hautala getting a goal with 6:52 left in the period, and Gaskill getting another goal with 15 seconds left in the game; but it wasn’t enough.

The storyline of the second game wasn’t as pleasant for Western, although the game started out on a positive note for the home team.

Within the first five minutes, Western’s Tony Kortchmariouk recorded his first goal of the season, shooting the puck past SIUE goalie Jake Davis.

SIUE then tied the game with 19 seconds left in the period when Gaskill sent one past Western goalie Max Krautwald.

In the second period, Brent Lyons gave SIUE a 2-1 lead on a power play goal, but Western’s Anthony Bronge was able to tie up the game a minute later.

Western then took its only lead of the game on a power play goal by alternate captain Ryan Sifcak. However, Lyons tied the game at 3-3 with 3:56 left in the period.

The third period belonged to SIU E. Kevin Greer sent one past Krautwald on a power play to put SIUE on top 4-3, then Lyons completed his hat trick and added another goal as well to give SIUE an insurmountable 3-goal advantage.

Jensen led the Leathernecks in the two games with 2 goals and 6 points. Stevens was right behind the freshman winger with 2 goals and 5 points.

“We’ll take the win,” Jensen said. “A win’s a win, but we did not play to our caliber at all. (Scoring two goals in the first game) was a good feeling for me personally, but you’ve got to look at what your team did.”

A factor that played heavily into the team’s performance was penalties. Western was whistled for 17 penalties in the second game alone. “We’ve got to stay disciplined,” Jensen said.

“We may have gotten (one) win, but (the) weekend was unacceptable; (the second) game was unacceptable,” Stevens said. “There’s really not much to it; we’re a way better team than what we showed. I think this showed us that just because we are playing a bad team, doesn’t mean we are going to automatically beat them.”

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