Six losses, nine games: Hockey drops fourth-straight battle against reigning league champ

Mia Cadle, Reporter

Nine games into the season, the Kent State hockey team is 3-6-1 and 0-4 in the College Hockey Mid-America league.

Coach Zachary Nowak said the team is still “figuring things out.”

“I know that the group wants to get it going,” Nowak said, “but right now, there’s not this connectedness — not this togetherness. We’re trying to find a way to make this whole group a little bit closer as a team.”

Wednesday, Kent State lost to second-place John Carroll, 7-1. The Flashes didn’t score until the final period.

John Carroll is now on a three-game winning streak at 4-1 in the league.

The Blue Streaks have won two straight games against KSU – the last win was in the first round of the CHMA tournament playoffs. The team went on to win the tournament.

What Kent State lacked in points, it made up for in penalties. Two players served five-minute misconduct penalties.

“It’s a high-emotion game,” Nowak said. “They’re frustrated, and we talked about that in between the first and second period.”

The first penalty was served for cross-checking a player to the head, which is when a player uses the shaft of their stick to hit another player with no part of the stick touching the ice.

“We were down 3-0,” Nowak said. “Guys are talking to the other team, and there’s no reason for that. We have to be able to focus on each other and ourselves. And that’s it. It’s something we’re definitely working out and trying to figure out. It pulls us out of our game completely.”

The second penalty was a hit-from-behind. That is reckless endangerment or causes the player to collide with the boards or goal frame.

“We got a little caught up in the moment,” Nowak said. “I was a little surprised they were both five minutes, but when you cross-check someone, you put yourself into a bad spot.”

After John Carroll scored five goals, Kent State’s goalie was pulled from the game and replaced by freshman goalie Patrick Kristo. It was Kristo’s first game of the season.

He made two saves.

“We needed to get something going on,” Nowak said. “Toth wasn’t playing badly, but we just weren’t getting all the saves at that moment.

“Kristo played really well in relief and kept us going. He energized the guys with some of the saves he made. It was definitely nice to see that, and if there’s a positive to take out of it, it’s that Kristo was able to come in and play pretty well.”

Tommy Kilway scored Kent State’s only goal in the final period. He has six for the season.

The Flashes only have one practice before Friday’s game against West Virginia.

“I think we’re gonna have to get on the puck movement,” Nowak said. “We got a lot of guys that are making individual efforts, and sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. The connectedness is a big piece, and that’s not just off the ice but also on the ice.”

The game starts at 7 p.m. at West Virginia. The Mountaineers are in fourth place in the CHMA with a 2-1 record.

“I’ll be honest,” Nowak said. “We’ve talked about this in a locker room a few times, but I think we’re glad we’re going through this now versus later in the season. We’ll find a way to work through our frustrations and become stronger because of it.”

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