Club hockey sweeps Illinois State on late goals

Sterling Silver

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/

The Marquette club hockey team swept Illinois State in its two-game series at the Ponds of Brookfield. The Golden Eagles (7-2-1) won Friday night’s affair 5-3 with the go-ahead goal coming in the last minute by sophomore John Stillman, and the team capped off the weekend with a 4-3 win after a solid performance in goal by sophomore Alejandro Anderson. Coach Will Jurgensen said he was impressed with the series sweep.

“Anytime you can get two victories it feels pretty good,” Jurgensen said. “We are still trying to truly find our identity as a team so it’s good to squeeze these ones out as morale boosters.”

Friday night, the Golden Eagles got off to a quick start with a goal from graduate student Ken Yamashita after a beautiful pass from the wing by sophomore Adam Benkovich at 8:52 in the first. The second period brought Illinois State back into the game with three goals in the period. Coupled with a goal by senior Tyler Schwichtenberg at 7:41, the Redhawks took a 3-2 lead into the second period.

But like many of Marquette’s wins early in the season, the third period gave way to another comeback victory. A turnover right behind the Illinois State net by a defenseman led to an easy pass and score by sophomore Colin Telmanik at the 4:40 mark. A back and forth period of great shots from both teams finally broke through with only 50 seconds left in the game. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Stillman broke away with the puck and netted the game winner. Stillman said he was happy to get one past the solid Redhawk goaltender.

“The goalie was really good and was stopping everything we threw at him so I knew I had to do something different to get the puck on net,” Stillman said. “I tried to use the defenseman as a screen for the goalie and I was fortunate enough to slide it by the goalie.”

An empty net goal in the closing moments by freshman Brian Kennedy secured a 5-3 victory for the Golden Eagles. While Jurgensen was a little disappointed with the second period effort, he said he was proud of how the team turned around in the third period.

“I challenged the guys to really dig deep and finish the game, which is exactly what they did,” Jurgensen said. “They came out great to start the game, but for some reason, we really sat back during the second period, which is something we cannot do because we let teams back into the game and put ourselves in that position. I think playing an entire 60 minutes is something we really need to work on.”

Saturday’s game gave Stillman his second goal of the weekend after a beautiful cut and shoot just past the goalie at the 17:41 mark of the first period. It only took four minutes for Marquette to score its second goal, when sophomore Matt Poli scored from the point during a power play at the 2:04 mark of the second period. Illinois State cut into the lead when a misplay behind the net by Anderson caught him out of position, and the Redhawks were able to take advantage of the open net. But that would be his only mistake of the game, as Anderson saved numerous Illinois State shots throughout the game, only allowing two power-play goals.

“It was a little boost for me that my family was in town and got to see me play, but the key is always preparation,” Anderson said. “It’s been a great few weeks of practice and I felt focused and ready to get a win for my team.”

A third period goal by Schwichtenberg at the 4:16 mark gave the Golden Eagles a commanding 4-1 lead, and the eventual 4-3 victory after two late goals by the Redhawks.

With the two-game sweep, Marquette has seven wins less than a month into the season. After managing only 16 wins last season, the team is primed for a Top-25 position when the national rankings are released. Stillman credits the turnaround to the overall culture changes hammered into the team since the season began.

“This strong start is not only a testament to the players, but also our leaders and coaches,” Stillman said. “Coach Will, Coach Pete, and the captains have instilled a winning demeanor in the team this year after a tough season last year. It’s been a fun first month of hockey and the team is looking forward to continuing our success.”