Indiana club ice hockey will endure a 10-hour bus ride to Vinton, Virginia to take on North Carolina State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the University of North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference Invitational. The Hoosiers are 5-3 themselves, coming off a sweep last weekend and giving Miami University (9-1) its only loss of the season.
A huge confidence boost came for the club this past weekend when freshman goalie Jack Thomson picked up his first win with the club after a 9-1 victory against Bowling Green State University on Oct. 15. Sammy Bilis also stayed undefeated as starting goalie in the first of game of last weekend’s doubleheader and continues to be the backbone of the team with a .950 save percentage.
[Related: Indiana club ice hockey claims first series sweep of season against Bowling Green]
The Hoosiers have been successful in keeping their opponents out of the defensive zone, stopping pucks from getting past the blue line and limiting the amount of passing opportunities whenever possible, which is due to the defense.
Head coach Andrew Weiss said the club has been really impressed with Leo Warner, a freshman defenseman from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Leo played for the Minnesota High School hockey team in Minneapolis, which is a combined school and was the first metropolitan public school since 1994 to compete in the Minnesota high school hockey tournament.
“Leo has come from a program very similar to us in regard to being an underdog more or less, or a team that’s emerging,” Weiss said. “So, for him to feel that success last year and then step into what feels like a very similar program in that trajectory I think has really helped him.”
The club faces three competitive teams this weekend, leaving nearly no room for rest. NC State ranked No. 6 in the nation last year, but North Carolina defeated them this season. In last season’s ACC Invitational, Virginia Tech beat Indiana 4-3.
With three highly ranked teams that are all having successful seasons, the Hoosiers will have a difficult road trip.
“We’re going at three quality opponents, and you really can’t look ahead or even look behind, we’ve got to reset each day and we talked about that,” Weiss said. “Three games in three days is a huge grind but in order to win a regional tournament, and in order to win a conference tournament, we’re going to need to win three games in three days,”.
The Hoosiers take on NC State, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina at 9 p.m. Oct. 21, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 22 and at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23 respectively this weekend at the Lancerlot Sports Complex.