Big crowds fuel Cyclones past Illinois

Gabe Davis

The ISU Cyclone hockey club bounced back this weekend, sweeping Illinois in the Homecoming series at the Ames Ice Arena.

Illinois got off to an early start on Friday night, but when the Cyclones took control, they never let go.

They finished the game 3-1, and then turned around and won 3-2 on Saturday night.

“I think we played really well this weekend. Illinois has a really talented team that played really well both nights,” Cyclone forward Mark Krueger said. “It was just fast hockey, a lot of hitting.”

The Cyclones played to a packed house, and were ready to get back on top after dropping two games the weekend before.

“We went down one to nothing before we really got rolling on Friday night,” said Tony Daniels, who scored two of the goals for the Cyclones on Friday. “It was nice to have the fans there to keep us going.”

Head coach Al Murdoch said a huge part of the Cyclones’ success this weekend can be attributed to Ryan Westbrock, the team goalie.

“We got some great goal tending. One goal against on Friday and two on Saturday; that’s 1.5 goals [average] against for the weekend, and that’s what we want,” Murdoch said.

Daniels said much of the Cyclones’ success has to do with the fact that they play so well together.

“This weekend, we played pretty well defensively, and our power teams played really well,” he said.

Cyclone forward Nat Little said after losing both games last weekend, Iowa State knew it needed to make adjustments on its game.

“I think as a team we set out to accomplish some goals, and I think we did. Keeping the goals scored against us down was one of them,” he said. “We probably wanted to score more goals, but as long as we came out with the wins, that’s what counts.”

Illinois is another top 10 national contender in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, and the Cyclones knew that the team was not going to roll over for them.

However, nobody knew that more than Daniels, who grew up in Illinois.

“Being from Illinois, I played with or against two-thirds of the team,” he said. “It was nice to fare well against them.”

Daniels’ goals were a key part of the Cyclones’ victory on Friday night, but he said “it was definitely a team effort.”

“They were kind of just laying right there for me. It could have been me; it could have been anybody on the team,” he said.

Since the Ames Ice Arena was built, the hockey crowd has increased to accommodate, and Homecoming weekend brought an even larger crowd then the past few weekends.

“I thought it helped a lot that it was Homecoming,” Krueger said. “That helped out. It looked like it was the biggest crowds we’ve had this year.”

Homecoming weekend signals the end of the Cyclones’ homestand. They’ll hit the road this weekend as they travel to a tournament in Delaware.

“I don’t think anything will be too different,” Little said. “It will be good for us to go on the road. We’ll spend a lot of time with the new guys, and it will be good for us as a team.”

Losing the home court advantage does add another element to the game, but Murdoch said that the team will be ready for it after the Illinois series.

Little said the Cyclones will face Illinois down the road and hopes to be ready.

“They’re a good, small, quick team,” he said.

“When the end of the year rolls around, it’s going to be tough team to beat.”