Ice Bears 2.28 photo

Junior forward Louis Chaix and his Lindenwood opponent reach out for the puck after falling on the ice. Missouri State hockey fell 3-2 to the Lions on Feb. 26.

The Missouri State Ice Bears lost one game in overtime and one in regulation on Feb. 26 and 27 against Lindenwood.

Lindenwood came into the weekend undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The only team to play them to a one goal game had been Iowa State, and no team had taken them to overtime.

 

Friday’s Game

Head coach Jeremy Law remarked after Friday’s game it was the second-best game MSU has played since he took over as head coach in 2017 – rivaling only the Ice Bears’ 1-0 loss to No. 3 Adrian in the 2019 ACHA national tournament.

Lindenwood started the game out putting a multitude of shots on senior goaltender Brady Griffin. Griffin turned them all aside and junior winger Hunter Cooley scored the frame’s lone goal to give MSU a 1-0 lead at the end of the period.

Lindenwood scored the equalizer three minutes into the second period, but freshman Evan Ross scored his first collegiate goal on a 2-on-1, making it 2-1 Ice Bears at the halfway point of the period.

Lindenwood again tied the game, this time on a tipped shot that got past Griffin.

No goals were scored in the third period. Lindenwood forward Vegard Faret scored a short-handed goal in overtime after a Lindenwood clearance took an odd bounce off the boards, giving Faret a breakaway.

The Ice Bears defended Lindenwood’s skill well, making a point to be back on defense and keep a forward high while on offense to prevent breakaways.

“The guys worked their butts off tonight,” Law said. “We stuck to the game plan, we were disciplined. That, that’s what we’re capable of.”

 

Saturday’s Game

Game two had a similar start but a different finish. Missouri State came out in the tight defensive structure it had used the night before, and it worked for most of the first period.

Then Lindenwood took a 1-0 lead with four seconds left in the frame.

Shortly into the second period, Ice Bears freshman defenseman Levi Wright scored to tie it 1-1.

Lindenwood then scored four unanswered goals to win 5-1.

 Numerous penalties were called as the game closed, but more often than not, they hurt MSU. Ice Bears assistant coach Clif Cook said the game on Saturday was close, but officiating made it hard for the Ice Bears to score.

“I think the penalty discrepancy was — off,” Cook said. “We now have to deal with some injuries because things that should have been called weren’t.”

 

Takeaways

Despite losing both games, both the coaches and players said this weekend is giving them confidence to finish the season.

“It would be easy to be down after losing both games, but we’re actually pretty pleased with the weekend,” Cook said. “We proved what we knew all along — that we’re right up there with the top teams in the country. I think there’s even one more gear we can find.”

For junior forward Hunter Cooley, the weekend has started talks about having a chance to win the national tournament.

“When we play with our grit, our heart and stay disciplined, we can be right up there,” Cooley said. “We have a chance to win nationals.”

The ACHA national tournament will be in April and take the top 12 teams in Division I. Currently there are 21 teams playing. Missouri State currently has a No. 10 ranking, but they will likely get their conference’s automatic bid as the only team out of 10 in the Western Collegiate Hockey League playing.

The Ice Bears travel to Maryville University next weekend to play the Saints on March 5 and 6.