Hockey team opens home season

Joe Mueller

Coming off its first loss of the season last weekend, the Kent State hockey team is counting on fans to provide a spark at its home opener.

The Flashes (6-1) takes on the Akron Zips (3-3) tonight and Friday at the Ice Arena. Both games start at 7:15.

“We’re going to come out big for the crowd,” senior forward Logan Bannon said. “The first home game is the biggest game of the year, and we want to give the fans a reason to keep coming back.”

Kent State coach Jarret Whidden also realizes the importance of playing at home.

“The guys feel more comfortable playing a home where they’ve been practicing,” he said. “There is less of a psychological toll on the players than when they have to commute. It allows them to go to class, take a quick nap or grab some food and be five minutes away from the rink.”

After Kent State suffered its first loss last Friday to Buffalo State, Bannon said he has come to understand the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“There were little things we didn’t do on Friday that the coach stressed on in practice,” Bannon said. “We also only scored two goals, which was disappointing.”

Some of the other problems Bannon mentioned were a lack of backchecking and slow shift switching, which gave Buffalo State more power plays and injuries.

While the Flashes have never played Akron, Whidden does not seem worried.

“We play a different style of hockey that focuses on our own playing style, which forces other teams to adjust to us,” Whidden said. “This allows an easy transition from weekend to weekend, and opponent to opponent.”

Akron is coming off a road loss over the weekend to John Carroll.

Leading the Flashes on the ice this season has been a pair of senior forwards, Eric Horschler and Mike Lepre. Horschler leads the team in goals with five. Lepre trails him by one.

Freshman forward Brandon McPhail has also contributed heavily for the team, scoring three goals and notching a team-leading eight assists.

In the net, junior Anthony Natali has recorded 2.53 goals against average in four games. Junior Tim Fitzgerald and freshman Zachary Nowak have also logged time between the pipes for the Flashes this season.

Contact Joe Mueller at [email protected].