Flashes fight for a Mercyhurst sweep

Pam Crimbchin

Club hockey defeats opponent twice this weekend in front of large crowds at the Ice Arena

Kent State’s hockey team beat Mercyhurst in a fierce doubleheader this weekend.

“Unfortunately we came out with two losses,” Mercyhurst coach T.J. McKinnon said. “We were hoping at least to steal one, but I mean [they were] two hard fought games.”

Early during Friday’s first period, Kent State was unable to make a goal while Mercyhurst was two men down. However, the Flashes took the lead in the period with the first goal of the game from leading scorer Eddie Martin.

Fighting penalties for Kent State’s Brad Puchmeyer and Kye Budziszewski against Mercyhurst’s Korey O’Connor and Steven Stepanian left both teams two men down. With four men out of play, Kent State’s Kevin Colleran scored the second goal of the game.

Stepanian came out strong in the second period, scoring Mercyhurst’s first goal.

Kent State’s Jon Canniff made the final goal of the period with Mercyhurst two men down. Going into the final period Kent State led 4-3.

With less than three minutes left in the third period and Kent State leading 6-3, anger overcame many players on the ice. Kent State’s Stu Smith and Mercyhurst’s O’Connor were the first men to have a fight with their helmet and gloves off. Both men are important to their teams and were suspended for Saturday’s game due to the fight.

“From just even a psychological stand point, it hurts not having him,” Kent State coach Jarret Whidden said. “Not only missing his talent, obviously that’s a big thing, but he’s a spark plug for our team.”

After more aggressive behavior from both teams, the game ended with Kent State having five players against Mercyhurst’s three.

“Sometimes emotions run over and I think they did in both our games,” McKinnon said. “Sometimes that’s a part of hockey, but at the same time we’re always hoping cooler heads would prevail.”

Saturday night’s game started with the Flashes attacking the goal early and often; however, Mercyhurst’s excellent defense in front of goal stopped the Flashes from scoring.

“At the beginning we came out kind of slow, but then we picked up towards the second period,” Kent State assistant captain Wolff Volet said. “We started playing a lot harder, (a) little bit better (and) started making smarter plays.”

The second period ended with the score tied at 1-1, leaving the game open to anyone in the third period.

Kent State’s offense came out strong, with Colleran scoring the Flashes’ second goal in the first minute. Kent State’s Rob MacInnes took out Mercyhurst’s Walter Ozanick for a part of the game with a cross check.

Mercyhurst’s Brain Stefanski evened the score 2-2, and soon after Pat Leone pulled the Lakers ahead 3-2.

That didn’t stop Kent State’s power play by Volet, tying the game with less than five minutes left.

“I think our power play really did well,” captain Brian Gahagan said. “We had two power-play goals.”

Tensions rose in the crowds as the puck flew back and forth across the arena. Then Kent State’s Tim Okicki scored another goal.

Mercyhurst pulled goalie Carson Loveday to place another man in its offense, only to leave the net open for Martin to score the Flashes’ fifth and final goal of the game, giving the Flashes a 5-3 victory.

“We’ll work on some things,” coach Whidden said. “We’ll just continue to grow. We’ve got a saying on our team that we use a lot: You’re like a tree. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Contact club sports reporter Pam Crimbchin at [email protected].