HOCKEY: Close series shows progress for team

HOCKEY: Close series shows progress for team


HOCKEY: Close series shows progress for team

Jordan Wickstrom

This past weekend’s series could prove to be a huge step forward for a young Cyclone Hockey club in its hunt for a National Championship.

On Friday, the Cyclones won a nail bitter, 3-2. Saturday’s game saw the Cyclones come back from four goals down to win in a shootout 8-7.

While the Cyclones had a few rough areas this weekend, there is one thing in particular players and coaches can be proud of — the team’s resiliency.

During Friday’s game, the Cyclones came back from an early one-goal deficit and found themselves constantly having to break ties with the ninth-ranked team in the nation until they ultimately took the lead for good.

While it seemed as if the Cyclones were on the verge of defeat, the team rallied and refused to let up. There were a couple of questionable penalties that went against the Cyclones in the third period, but they kept their composure to pull out the win.

While Kent State held onto a four-goal lead in the third period, the Cyclones did not give up. Instead, it seemed as if Kent State began to lose control as they got into multiple brawls in the third.

“We can overcome anything, four goals down in the third period against a really good team — a top 10 team — we came back,” freshman forward Jason Pacheco said. “That says a lot; we’re not going to give up. We’re not a team that’s just going to roll over when we’re down.”

After allowing four goals, sophomore goalie Erik Hudson was pulled in the second period for fellow sophomore goalie Jim Stenson. When it came time for a shootout, however, coach Al Murdoch turned to Hudson to stop Kent State. Hudson responded by blocking four shots from four Kent State shooters.

Murdoch said the decision to go back to Hudson was mostly in part to a “psychological factor.”

“Stenson put our team in a position to win,” Murdoch said. “I could just as easily have left [Stenson] in for the shootout, but you see the other team at their bench, they’re talking about [Stenson] and they line up to shoot and there’s Hudson. So psychologically it affects them. Stenson would have done really well, but we used the psychological factor.”

While this series was a successful sweep, assistant Coach Brian Wierson mentioned a few areas that the team could improve on in the upcoming weeks.

“We had a lot of power play goals scored against us this weekend,” Wierson said. “We have to focus more on our penalty kill. We talked about it in between periods but we’re going to need to bear down in practice because we’re going to face a lot more teams this year that have power plays that are just as powerful and efficient as Kent State, and we need to be able to shut them down.”

Junior forward Brian Spring, who pulled off a hat trick Saturday, was very happy with the team’s performance, especially since this was the same Kent State team that beat Iowa State in three games last season.

“It hurts them a lot more, blowing two four-goal leads [on Saturday]. It’s going to be a loss for them to get over this year, so I think we put them down and they’re going to stay down for awhile,” Spring said.

Pacheco said the series will act as a big boost in the team’s confidence.

“People are going to start recognizing us as a good team,” Pacheco said. “We have a lot of depth, a lot of players that are stepping up. I don’t think teams are going to take us lightly; we’re not going to be the underdogs anymore, we’ve been showing up every week.”