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Hockey splits thrilling series

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Hockey splits thrilling series

Sophomore forward Bobby Larue takes the ice in a home game on Nov. 9. EWU has the best win percentage in the PAC-8 this year.

Sophomore forward Bobby Larue takes the ice in a home game on Nov. 9. EWU has the best win percentage in the PAC-8 this year.

Richard Clark IV

Sophomore forward Bobby Larue takes the ice in a home game on Nov. 9. EWU has the best win percentage in the PAC-8 this year.

Richard Clark IV

Richard Clark IV

Sophomore forward Bobby Larue takes the ice in a home game on Nov. 9. EWU has the best win percentage in the PAC-8 this year.

By Eric McCormick, Contributor

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The No.9 EWU hockey club hosted No.10 Montana State over the weekend, splitting a two game series in a battle between the best teams from the PAC-8’s and Mountain West.

In Friday’s game one, both teams showcased their physical might in the opening minutes with a multitude of collisions in front of a packed University Recreation Center crowd. The Eagles (15-3) had trouble finding their footing early against the Bobcats (10-6), and EWU fell two goals behind.

EWU coach Pat Hanlon wasn’t happy about the team’s overall pace.

“It just got to be a matter of who had a better jump,” Hanlon said. “They were a little quicker to the puck than we were, […] we just can’t do that to good teams.”

Then, in the late minutes of the second period, EWU finally hit their stride as they scored two consecutive goals to round out the period. The first came from Greg Lind with just over two minutes remaining, and the second  from Joseph Porco with 49.4 seconds left.

There was a tremendous amount of buzz floating around in the arena heading into the third period. But, victory fell out of our grasp as MSU scored midway through the third period and sealed the game with an empty netter in the closing moments, giveing the Eagles a rare home loss.

“We just weren’t consistent,” Hanlon said. “When we did do what we do, we did fine. But we just couldn’t get in a rhythm.”

EWU didn’t have much time to ponder over its mistake, having to focus on the rematch at noon the very next day. The Eagles showed a lot more physicality and intensity in the beginning stages of the game compared to the previous matchup, and Porco scored a first period goal at the 12 minute 59 second mark.

MSU answered back with a vengeance in the second period as they took advantage of a power play to tie up the game. Even when it was a four on three power play in favor of EWU, the Bobcats scored again. And at the two-minute mark, the Bobcats scored once more to make EWU’s deficit 3-1.

While the match seemed lost, Coach Hanlon was determined for the challenge heading into the final period.

“We just had to get back to doing what we did in the first period,” Hanlon said. “We just had to get out of our low and have more of a gut check.”

The Eagles replicated what their end of the second period in the previous game by immediately scoring two goals courtesy of Ty Flynn and Matt Lucero. As the game was tied up, EWU nearly took the lead right after those two goals, but the shot hit the post and the game went on.

As each minute dwindled down, the game intensified with the scoreboard remaining even. With more than four minutes remaining, EWU’s leading scorer Mitchell Hunt, saw an opportunity and delivered a goal to put the Eagles on top 4-3.

“Their defense was collapsed towards the blue line, so I snuck behind the defense and Lind passed it, and we got a goal,” Hunt said.

WIth three minutes and 33 seconds still remaining, the tension peaked when MSU had a four on three power play advantage.

EWU was poised for the moment and stood their ground, draining out the clock to secure a series spit.

“We showed what kind of team we can be and what kind of team that we are,” Hanlon said.

EWU’s next game will be away next week at University of Providence and their next home game will be on Jan. 11 against UCLA.

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Hockey splits thrilling series