Losing streak snapped: Hockey slaps in first league win at WVU

Kyle Kuchta, Reporter

No matter what his men did, hockey coach Zachary Nowak said things would not go their way heading into battle against West Virginia.

The Flashes had lost four straight games and given up 25 points — despite outshooting three of their opponents.

The team ended that losing streak Friday, defeating the Mountaineers 4-3 for its first College Hockey Mid-America league victory.

“It was relieving for us to get back on the winning side,” Nowak said. “The guys really worked hard today as a team and as a unit. It felt good, and there were a lot of things, team-building wise, that this helped. It was nice to be rewarded for those efforts.”

KSU is now 1-4 in the CHMA and 4-6-1 overall. WVU is 2-2 in the league.

West Virginia sinked the first goal of the game seven minutes into the first period.

Kent State captain Zach Zwierecki then scored off assists from Kyle Holmes and Kyle Vent to tie it up at 1-1.

“He’s definitely jumpstarting stuff when you got a guy who can put the puck in the net,” Nowak said. “Z is definitely a guy that gets guys going with scoring.”

Freshman goalie Patrick Kristo kept the score 1-1 until the Mountaineers scored again with eight minutes left in the second period. This was Kristo’s first full game in the net.

Nowak brought the goalie in for his first collegiate game during the second period of Wednesday’s match at John Carroll. There, Kristo made two saves.

“It’s just trying to try to stay calm, realize it’s just a game – it’s not the end all be all,” he said. “As long as I could see the puck off the sticks, there’s a pretty good chance we could make them unsafe.”

The freshman only allowed one goal in the third period – Kent State scored three.

KSU’s Bennett Wenger tied the game 2-2 four minutes in. Four minutes later, Joey Gallo scored his second goal of the season. This was Kent’s first lead of the night.

Tommy Kilway followed up with another goal, giving Kent a 4-2 lead. With 2:32 left, WVU scored its final goal.

Nowak was “really happy” with Kristo’s first starting performance.

“We gave him a shot because he earned that,” the second-year coach said. “He earned this game today and showed up and made some really great saves to keep us in the game.”

The Flashes are back at the Kent State Ice Arena for the first time in three games at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Robert Morris.

The Colonials are 8-7 overall and 3-1 in the CHMA. The team ended its four-game losing streak Saturday against Duquesne 4-2. KSU lost to Duquesne 9-5 Oct. 23.

RMU’s only league loss is to first-place Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which KSU lost to 4-2 this season.

“The important thing we got to keep going on is teamwork and team building because it’s just gonna carry us into where we want to go,” Nowak said. “We’re hoping to carry it into next practice and just continue to build off of it.”

Kyle Kuchta is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].