Eagles trounce Vandals in hockey opener

By Drew Lawson, Contributor

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It didn’t take long for the EWU Men’s Hockey team to make a statement as new members of the Pac-8 Conference. The Eagles started their season strong Friday, routing the rival Idaho Vandals 11-2 in front of a packed crowd.

EWU was the aggressor throughout the game, executing 41 shots on goal compared to just 22 for Idaho. Sophomore forward Will Mix got the scoring going early on, knocking in a shot just 82 seconds into the game. The Eagles controlled the puck throughout the first period, and added two more goals by senior forward Felix Allard and sophomore forward Greg Lind to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.

“We really wanted to come out of the gate strong,” head coach Pat Hanlon said. “Our goal is to get a quick start every time we get out there.”

The second period was slower and slightly more sloppy, aided by several penalties and other infractions by both squads. Each club scored two goals in the period. EWU got scores from junior defender Chad Haywood and junior forward Taylor Barger. Idaho scored its only two goals of the game in the second, coming from forward Dustin Pierce and forward Dustin Doan. Eastern led 5-2 at the second intermission.

The chippy play of the second period seemed to inspire the Eagles to put the game to rest in the third. EWU scored a whopping six goals in the final frame, including two from sophomore defender Branden Stevenson. Allard and Barger scored their second goals of the game in the third. Senior forward Matt Lucero and sophomore defender Joey Porco added scores.

“We’re really deep this year…our plan was to keep coming at them,” Hanlon said.

“The penalties in the second period dropped us a little bit,” Allard said. “We needed discipline, and gained it back and came together as a team in the third.”

The Eagles were aided by a strong performance from senior goalie Tyler O’Donnell, who allowed just two goals on 22 Vandal shots. O’Donnell credited his teammates for his high level of play.

“The boys did a good job of keeping the puck to the outside,” O’Donnell said. “(Idaho) didn’t have too many challenging shots…I’d attribute it to the defense. They were doing a good job of keeping the puck out of the danger zone and made it pretty easy.”

A record number of fans witnessed the rout Friday night. Club advisor Jamie Gwinn estimated over 730 students attended the game, with parents and community members increasing that total. Director of communications Tyler Pisani said that was likely the largest crowd in team history.

“I’ve been here ten years, and this is the biggest crowd I’ve seen in a long time,” Hanlon said after the game. “They made a lot of noise and got the boys pumped up.”

This was the first game in the Pac-8 conference for the Eagles. EWU joined the league after formerly residing in the Northern Pacific Hockey Conference.

EWU will now try to complete a series sweep of the Vandals Saturday night in Cheney. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the URC. Admission is free to all students with ID, and five dollars for the general public.

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