Flashes advance to league playoff semifinals after win over Calvin College

Kent State forward TJ West carries the puck through the offensive zone during the Flashes’ 9-2 victory over John Carroll on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. [FILE]

Chad Flannery

The Kent State men’s hockey club advanced to the semifinals of the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League playoffs after a dominating 4-0 win over Calvin College.

During the final six games of the season, the Flashes seemed to lack intensity and drive, finishing with a record of 3-3 in those games.

On Thursday morning, fans saw a Kent State team they haven’t seen in a while. The team played with the same intensity and determination that allowed them to win 18 out of 20 games during a stretch in the middle of the season.  

Kent State and Calvin College battled throughout the first period until Flashes junior defenseman Jake Parry was able to find the net toward the end of the period.

After that, the Flashes never looked back.

Xavier Sudlow, Sean Moore and John Buttitta each tallied a goal and two assists for the Flashes, providing dominant play from the team’s first line.  

The three points from Buttitta allowed the assistant captain to surpass 200 career points in what has been a productive and illustrious career for the senior forward.

Junior goaltender Alex Okicki was in net for the Flashes, stopping all 24 shots on goal, on his way to his third shutout of the season.   

Looking ahead to the semifinals, Kent State will play the highest seed left in the tournament.

Although there are a few quarterfinal games left to play Thursday, it is likely the Flashes will face either No. 1 seed Adrian College (26-1-0) or No. 2 seed Davenport University (18-9-3).

During the regular season, Kent State was swept by both teams. Those two teams accounted for four of the Flashes’ 10 losses on the season.

However, Kent State has history with Davenport in the playoffs.

Just last year, the Flashes upset the No. 2 seed Davenport in the quarterfinals. Although they lost both games against them this season, it is clear the Flashes have come to play in the playoffs.

The Flashes return to the ice at either 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. Friday for their semifinal matchup.

Chad Flannery is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].