Coming into the weekend on a four-game losing streak, the Panthers were searching for something to turn their recent skid around. Boarding the team bus at 7 a.m. for a six hour bus trip directly to the Arena was not the proper ingredient to end the teams losing streak in Sunday’s game. In the long run of the the weekend series the road trip seemed to help the team though, coming together as a whole, like a family. That bond proved to be true on the ice in the game Monday, as the Panthers played their best game as a team in two weeks.
Because of the extended weekend due to Martin Luther King Jr. day the games vs. the University of Iowa were played on Sunday and Monday. The Panthers came out slow in Sundays game. The long ride from Charleston to Iowa City left Eastern with bus legs as they were never in the game from puck drop to final buzzer. Iowa scored early and often, winning the game 9-4.
In the locker room after the game the Panthers were dejected after their performance on the ice. Team captain’s Mike Sorrentino and Conner Cox called for a players only meeting later that night to go over some issues the team was facing on the ice, mostly regarding the struggles Eastern was having on defense.
Whatever was said in the meeting worked.
The Panthers came out looking like a rejuvenated hockey team in Monday’s game. Hitting harder, skating faster, and playing smarter than the Hawkeyes. The “red line” welcomed back winger Zach Yurchak from injury who helped fellow line-mates Cox and Sorrentino rack up six of the seven goals EIU scored in the game.
Goalie Andrew Teske made key saves down the stretch to fend off the pesky Hawkeyes who continued to fight until the final buzzer sounded. Eastern won the game 7-6 in regulation, snapping their five game losing streak.
Sorrentino, who recorded a hat-trick in the game, injured his knee in the final minutes of the game and is listed as day-to-day. Probable for Bradley this weekend.
Eastern (9-10-3) plays Bradley University (10-7-1) this weekend in Peoria. Puck is set to drop at 8:15 p.m. on Friday and 9:15 on Saturday.