Rockets get swept: Hockey pulls through with first perfect weekend

Mia Cadle, Reporter

Almost a month into its season, Kent State’s hockey team saw its first weekend sweep against Toledo.

“We got after our guys pretty hard about making sure they were moving their feet,” coach Zachary Nowak said, “not just offensively but defensively moving their feet.”

KSU beat the Rockets 5-3 Saturday and 3-1 Sunday.

The Flashes are now 3-1-1 on the season. The Rockets are 3-3-0. Kent State ranks 50th nationally in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Toledo is 30th.

Saturday, Toledo had a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period at Kent State Ice Arena.

“At first, we had a hard time getting our legs going,” senior forward Jake Friedman said. “We were definitely not playing our best at first – we needed a wakeup call.”

KSU’s senior forward Hunter Hillebrecht broke through at 8:06 left in the second period, scoring his team’s first goal of the night. The score was now 2-1, Rockets.

“I just take the chances [to score] when they come,” Hillebrecht said. “I try to beat the guy at the foot race and hopefully score on the breakthrough.”

Less than two minutes later, Toledo scored its third and final goal of the night. This brought the team’s lead to 3-1 entering the third period.

Three minutes into the final period, Kent State sophomore forward Johnny Gabriel scored off an assist from junior forward Jack Kinsman. Senior forward Tommy Kilway scored five minutes later to tie the game 3-3.

Gabriel scored again nine minutes later to break the tie, giving Kent State a 4-3 lead. Hillebrecht closed out the game with his second goal of the night for a final score of 5-3.

“A comeback win means a lot more than just an average win,” Friedman said.

In Sunday’s game at Toledo, neither team scored in the first period.

By the end of the second period, Kent State was up 2-0 with goals from Kinsman and Hillebrecht. Toledo scored its first and only goal at the start of the third period.

Hillebrecht then scored the final goal of the game – this was his fourth goal of the weekend. He leads his team in scoring with five goals on the season. Kinsman is second with four goals.

The Flashes finished the sweep 3-1.

“This weekend proves to us that we can play top-25 hockey,” Kilway said. “The first two periods, we didn’t play it. But in the third period, we came out and showed we can play good hockey.”

The top 25 nationally-ranked teams qualify for the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championships in March.

Kent State plays at Duquesne (3-4-1) Sunday at the Alpha Ice Complex.

“You can’t take us for granted,” Hillebrecht said. “If the other team has a lead on us, you can’t count us out because we are going to come back and win that game.”

Mia Cadle is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].