The Missouri State Ice Bears have seen a fair share of success this season, and they looked to continue their momentum into the bottom half of their schedule.
The Ice Bears are 13-2-1-1 on the season, meaning that they have 12 wins, two losses in regulation, one overtime loss and another loss via penalty shootout.
Missouri State recently went on the road to battle Oakland University and earned two victories.
The first game was won by a score of 5-2 with goals coming early and often with MSU netting two goals in the first period, including one on the power play by forward Jordan Bratton.
The power play wasn’t done yet, though, as defenseman Chris Brown scored what would be the Ice Bears’ third goal of the night with the man advantage in the second period.
Missouri State found the back of the net two more times in the final period as defenseman Brennan Anderson added another point on the board at the 11:50 mark.
The Ice Bears finally sealed the victory with an empty-netter by forward Nikita Salnikov, the team’s leader in goals and total points.
Head coach Jeremy Law has seen what Salnikov can do, and as only a freshman, Law is excited for the future.
“As a freshman he’s doing a fantastic job,” Law said. “He’s such an offensive threat; he’s fun to watch anytime he’s on the ice. His work ethic on the ice and off is top-notch, and I think he’s gonna be a huge addition on our team for the next four years.”
The Ice Bears had a tighter contest in the second matchup against Oakland, with the game tied 1-1 after two periods.
MSU’s first goal was scored in the second period by Anderson once again.
The Ice Bears found their rhythm in the third period, scoring three straight goals with two on the power play.
The first power play goal was scored by defenseman Brian Schumacher, just four minutes into the period. That was followed by forward Travis Barrett’s tally, which gave Missouri State a 3-1 lead before a Salnikov empty-netter.
MSU then traveled back home to Mediacom Ice Park to a tough three-game weekend.
The first game on the schedule was a matchup against No. 19 Colorado. Three games in a weekend created a tough task for the Ice Bars to stay healthy, Law said.
“By the third game, you’re just fortunate enough to not have a lot of injuries,” Law said. “We lost a couple, but that’s usually what happens in a three-game set. But we’re deep, and we have a lot of guys ready to fill in.”
The Ice Bears got on the board first when forward Andrew Kovacich scored on a rebounded shot.
The second of the night for Missouri State came in the second period as Brown knocked in a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circles giving the Ice Bears a 2-0 lead.
Colorado netted a goal with six minutes left in the period to cut the lead to just one for MSU, but that didn’t last long.
Forward Hunter Cooley netted a pass across the crease from Salnikov just two minutes after the Colorado goal to make it 3-1.
The game stayed 3-1 into the third period until Kovacich found the back of the net for the second time of the night, giving the Ice Bears a three-goal lead.
Cooley also lit the lamp for the second time in the game, sealing the game at 5-1 for Missouri State.
The Ice Bears then started their two-game series against Colorado State. There was a short delay to drop the puck due to broken glass during warmups. No goals were scored until three minutes into the second period when forward Alex Rubin scored.
Salnikov netted a one-time finish in the second as well, giving MSU the 2-0 advantage.
Salnikov’s night ended a little early when he was sent off the ice for a game misconduct penalty of head butting with under a minute left in the second period.
The game looked just about sealed as Missouri State entered the final period with a two-goal advantage, but Colorado State saved its best play for last. Colorado State netted one goal on the power play with 10:38 left to go in the period. This was the first of two straight goals to tie the game at 2-2.
The Ice Bears broke through with a Barrett go-ahead goal with 2:40 left in the game. MSU held that lead until the 1:26 mark when Colorado State tied it at 3-3. Overtime couldn’t settle it for either side as the game headed to a shootout — only MSU’s second of the year.
The Ice Bears were shut down throughout the penalty shootout, getting stopped on all three attempts. Colorado State found the back of the net on their first attempt, which was all they needed to secure the victory.
Law discussed how difficult losing via shootouts can be.
“It’s really 50-50 when it comes to shootouts,” Law said. “I don’t feel like the best team always wins. At the time, I just picked the guys who I thought had the best chance of scoring.”
In the rematch the next day, the Ice Bears got on the board early in the first period by the stick of Salnikov just seven minutes into the game. Salnikov gave the Bears a 1-0 lead, and the score would stay the same through the end of the period.
Missouri State started the second period strong, moving their lead to 2-0 just minutes into the period with a goal in the crease from forward Zane O’Bryan.
The Ice Bears didn’t stop there, as Cooley also netted a goal giving MSU a 3-0 lead to end the second. The tallies from Cooley and O’Bryan gave the Ice Bears a convincing three-goal lead into the final frame.
The third period was more of the same for Missouri State, extending their lead to 4-0 off a goal from Cooley, his second of the night. Salnikov also tallied his second in the game before the final horn, sealing the 5-0 victory for the Ice Bears.
Missouri State’s next matchup will take place on Nov. 9 against William Morris University where Law and the Ice Bears hope to continue their winning ways.