The Missouri State Ice Bears had a few issues scoring, but they managed to win two games over Northern Illinois this past weekend.
The Ice Bears put up 115 shots on the Huskies’ goalies in two games and only scored 12 times.
Northern Illinois came into the series ranked 66th out of 70 teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division I. The Ice Bears are ranked 29th.
Assistant coach Brendan McClew said the skill gap between the two teams made the Ice Bears try to make highlight-reel plays on offense.
“You expect players to be in certain positions defensively,” McClew said. “When you’re playing teams that aren’t as good, they are not in those spots — often a couple strides behind. It messes with the flow of the offense, and you try to do too much.”
In the first game on Friday night, a 5-3 victory, head coach Jeremy Law said the Ice Bears played down to the level of their opponent and should have done better.
Even with 52 shots on goal, they still could not mount sustained offensive pressure.
“We were trying to do too much,” Law said. “We played down to their level like we’ve done all season with lower-ranked opponents. They’re the 66th ranked team, and we played like the 65th ranked team.”
Law said the team’s top forward line of center Josh Bell and wingers Hunter Cooley and Alex Rubin — as well as defenseman Chris Brown — played well.
Saturday night, Northern Illinois scored the first two goals. After trading scores, the Ice Bears had a five-on-three powerplay while down a goal.
It was not the Ice Bears who scored, however. Northern Illinois forward Rodahn Evans got a breakaway and scored shorthanded.
After giving up the shorthanded goal, the Ice Bears scored five unanswered to take the night 7-4.
“We had good second and third periods — much better than (Friday),” Law said after the game on Saturday.
The team was able to get goals from more than just the top line — senior forward Matt Matyi scored two goals, and his linemate, junior forward Nikita Salnikov, scored one.
The Ice Bears have two games left on their schedule — a weekend series at home against No. 2 Lindenwood on Feb. 28 and 29. With the Ice Bears eliminated from ACHA National Tournament contention, it will be the final two games 14 Ice Bears play in a Missouri State uniform.