The Eastern Illinois Panthers are coming off their first shutout of the season after beating the University of Louisville 3-0 last Saturday in Danville. Although the Panthers were not able to sweep the weekend series vs the Cardinals (losing Friday 5-4), the shutout on Saturday is just what the Panthers need to rejuvenate the team on the defensive end of the ice. The Panthers are allowing just under four goals per game this season in MACHA play, and they will need to continue to improve in that category if they want to keep winning this season.
It hasn’t been an easy road for the Panthers thus far on defense, and with the loss of Senior, defenseman, Brad Bartosz to a broken hand sustained against the University of Illinois, it wont be getting any easier. Especially against the high-powered offense of Missouri State, which ranks 4th in goals scored in the Gold Division of MACHA this season. “The defense really needs to step up in my absence,” Bartosz said, “It really hurts me to be injured again, and to let the team down. I hope to get this fixed and possibly return for the last portion of the season.” Spoken like a true senior leader and assistant captain.
If its anyones time to step up on defense, its that of junior, Steve Kriegshauser. Kriegshauser, or “Kriegs” as his teammates like to call him, has been in the program for three years now and has really turned into a solid force on the defensive end of the ice. Notching six points so far this season on limited ice time, the injury to Bartosz might just be the opening Kriegshauser needs to really turn it on.
“Its been hard losing Brad, he’s a leader that no one can replace. I just look to do my part and help the team anyway I can,” Kriegshauser said.
Kriegshauser, along with the rest of the Panther defense, will need to slow down the offensive force of the Ryan brothers on the Ice Bears.
Jack Ryan and Blake Ryan each have over 25 points this season for Missouri State, and they show no signs of slowing down their production which has led the Ice Bears to an impressive 13 and 3 overall recored midway through their season.
The Panthers look to build upon their 8-5-3 record as they travel to Missouri State this weekend for a two game set taking place on Friday and Saturday night. “We have been playing well the last couple weekends,” said Kriegshauser, “We hope to keep that momentum going against Missouri State and into the next part of our season.”