Hockey prepares for crucial home series

Jeremy Juhasz

Flashes ranked 15th among ACHA teams

The Kent State club hockey team will host Michigan-Dearborn this weekend for a double dip tonight and Saturday.

The games are league contests, and each game is worth four points. Normally a league win clinches two points, but if both teams see each other only twice a season the stakes are higher.

“It’s a big weekend for us,” said assistant coach Eddie Martin. “It’s an eight-point weekend; each game is worth two games.”

According to the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s latest computer rankings, Kent State moved to 15th in the country. Michigan-Dearborn sits one spot ahead of the Flashes in 14th.

An official ranking, including a goal differential component, ignored by the computer rankings, will be released later today.

The Flashes are aware of this weekend’s magnitude in the standings.

“Every weekend is big, but this one there’s eight points up for grabs,” said senior defenseman Kye Budziszewski. “They are a team right around our ranking. We need to have a good showing and make up for the loss we had the previous weekend.”

Last weekend Kent State lost 4-0 to Adrian College before defeating Duquesne 8-3 the next day.

Success this weekend hinges on stopping Michigan-Dearborn’s top scoring threat, sophomore forward Michael Macari.

Macari has 24 points through eight games and last year as a freshman notched 54 goals and 109 points in 41 regular season games.

“He just has a cannon,” Martin said. “He can fire the puck. He’s a good player. We’re going to make them play to our game, but we’re going to be cautious when he’s on the ice.”

The Flashes will start Ryan Gregory in net Friday, fresh off a one-game suspension from last weekend’s altercation against Adrian College.

“We rely on Gregs a lot,” said sophomore forward Justin Phenney, who leads Kent State in goals. “He keeps us in a lot of games. He plays really well against good teams.”

Michigan-Dearborn has not scored fewer than three goals in a game this season.

“We know we have to score goals with our style of play,” Phenney said. “We’re going to have to score goals to win.”

Phenney also said the transition from defense to offense this weekend is key because Michigan-Dearborn defensemen like to jump up in the offensive zone.

“Mostly we’re focusing on getting offense going out of the defensive zone because they like to pinch their defense down,” Phenney said. “We’re trying to get some rushes up the ice, some odd-man rushes.”

“They are (Michigan-Dearborn) kind of in the same position we are,” Martin said. “We are (both) in a battle in the Central States League. Everyone knows this is a huge weekend for us. I think the guys are preparing well this week. Everyone seems concentrated.”

Both games start just after 7:30 p.m. at Kent State Ice Arena.

Contact sports correspondent Jeremy Juhasz at [email protected].