Indiana club ice hockey took on Concordia University Wisconsin to open both teams’ seasons Friday. The match went firmly in favor of Indiana from start to finish, resulting in a 7-2 game.
Saturday went the other way as the Hoosiers got stormed, giving up seven goals and only scoring one. Both games were played at the Hamilton Ice Center in Columbus, Indiana.
One minute and 18 seconds into the game on Friday, freshman forward Jack Gustafson opened the scoring with a breakaway goal to put the Hoosiers up 1-0, but the Falcons were able to put up some retaliation. Senior forward Lucas Kruesser snagged the puck away from a Hoosier defender, breaking away and getting past sophomore goalie Sammy Bilis with a dangle deke to tie the game going into the first intermission.
The Hoosiers quickly opened the game up in second period, scoring four goals, all from different players. Sophomore forward Will Gerami had a phenomenal night, starting with a faceoff win one minutes and 44 seconds into the second period. The gained possession gave freshman Austin Williams a decent look which he took full advantage of, scoring the first goal of his young career.
[Related: Indiana Club Ice Hockey aims to defend the Tri-State Collegiate Hockey League Championship]
In addition to the assist to Williams, Gerami scored a goal of his own and sophomore forwards Jack O’Flaherty and Tommy MacDonald each added goals to help separate Indiana from CUW.
With Indiana leading 5-1, CUW pulled its goalie to start the third period — subbing in junior goalie Mack Willy to replace junior goalie Ian Robertson as the game started to slip away
However, for the third period in a row, the Hoosiers scored in the first three minutes of the period. Freshman defenseman Jack Hawkins ripped one into the net, leading to a five-goal lead in the early portion of the third.
The game ended 7-2 with the Hoosiers playing as the better team throughout all three periods. The night was highlighted by Billis, who stopped 31 of 33 shots throughout the night.
In the first game of the season, head coach Andrew Weiss said he wanted to see what the freshman brought to the table, and they answered.
Three goals were scored by freshman, and they tallied four assists — including three apples from forward Luke Slaven.
“I personally was expecting to have this kind of outcome in the first weekend because of how we practiced, and we’re all working super hard in and out of practice,” freshman forward Matt Spears said.
Night two was a different story for Indiana as it had a poor start to the game and never led on Saturday.
Ten minutes into the first, CUW shoved one past backup freshman goalie Jack Thomson just after its power play had concluded. A couple minutes later, CUW jumped right back onto Thomson, setting up a passing play in which junior forward John Swiatek put the Falcons up 2-0 — which held as the score to close out the first period.
“When we try to sit back and let the game come to us, that’s where we get in trouble,” Weiss said. “When we think it’s going to be easy, that’s where we get in trouble.”
Four minutes and 32 seconds into the second period, CUW was put onto a power play and took advantage, scoring a rebound goal off a Thomson save to extend the lead to three. Before Indiana could get its first and only goal of the night, CUW scored another to go up 4-0.
Freshman forward Henry Whitliff scored on a dangle that put Indiana on the board with eight minutes and 52 seconds to go in the second, but the team couldn’t make anything of the small spark and tumbled to a 7-1 loss.
Six goals is the largest loss for the team since last season when it lost 6-0 against Miami University on Oct. 16, 2021. The game ended with a chippy skirmish in the last minutes as both sides were looking for more physicality than scoring chances.
“After the game we talked about whether we play for Indiana, or we play at Indiana…the guys that play for Indiana, in our 54 years of playing hockey, play with their heart, play with passion, and play for the guys before them,” Weiss said. “Playing at Indiana is a little more of a casual attitude, where we get Saturday night’s results.”
All in all, both teams took one game from each other and split the weekend series 1-1. While it looked like Indiana had the series potentially wrapped up after night one, the personnel changes made by the coaching staff and overall grit from CUW proved to be enough to switch the script and give the team its first win of the season.
Indiana will play again next week against a familiar opponent in Miami. The doubleheader starts at 8:15 p.m. Sept. 23 at Perry Park in Indianapolis and finishes the next day, Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Goggin Family Ice Arena in Miami, Ohio.