Eagles and Ducks Fly Even, Ruffle Feathers in Weekend Series Split


Bailey Monteith

EWU freshman forward Mitch Hunt fires a shot against Oregon on Oct. 6. The Eagles and Ducks each won a game of the weekend double header.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

In the first Pac-8 Conference home series of the season, EWU and the University of Oregon split a two-game series. The Eagles (5-1, 3-1) were victorious 3-2 on Friday and the Ducks (2-2, 1-1) won by that same score on Saturday.

Oregon’s win in the second game handed EWU its first loss of the season. The Eagles now stand at 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in conference.

“We just let things get us off our game tonight,” EWU coach Pat Hanlon said after the loss Saturday. “They’re a good team, [and] we’re a good team. When we were able to get in a rhythm we were able to control the play.”

Hanlon noted that a few unlucky bounces and unfavorable officiating calls in Saturday’s game threw the team off their rhythm.

“A bounce here, a bounce there, won’t talk about a call here or a call there, it gets you out of your rhythm,” Hanlon said. “We just let that get under our skin tonight […] their second goal was a goofy one, but that’s the game, it’s gonna happen. We’re [still] 3-1 in conference and in a good situation.”

Freshman forward Mitch Hunt scored four goals in the series and was the only Eagle to put the puck in the net Saturday. This brought his season point total to 12, a team best. Hunt credits his teammates for the hot start.

“It’s not all about me, we’ve got to put the team first,” Hunt said. “The guys I play with and the team in general brought me in and are good guys. If we play as a team we’re gonna be dangerous down the road.”

Senior forward Matt Lucero was the other Eagle to get a goal in the series, scoring the second goal of the night for EWU on Friday. Sophomore forward Bobby LaRue and senior defenseman Jason Shuck assisted on the score. LaRue and sophomore forward Greg Lind assisted Hunt’s second score of the game, which gave EWU a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Hunt’s first goal was unassisted.

In Saturday’s game, Lind assisted on Hunt’s first goal. Junior forward Zac Mindermann earned an assist on the second score.

Sophomore Austin Kirby started at goalie for EWU on Friday night, securing 40 saves on 42 shots. He was thrust into action at the beginning of the second period Saturday after senior forward Tyler O’Donnell suffered a lower-body injury. Kirby saved 30 of 32 shots, and O’Donnell had 16 saves on 17 shots. Kirby said both games were decided by effort.

“This series was a hard-fought battle by both teams, and fortunately last night we came out on top, but tonight they came out on top,” Kirby said postgame Saturday. “I think the effort was us last night and them tonight.”

Forwards Nathan Lutz and Kirt Fortney logged Oregon’s goals Friday night. Centerman Luke Chamberlain and forwards Connor Rendell and John Geraghty put the puck in the net Saturday for the Ducks.

The series featured chippy play by both teams. EWU totaled 36 penalty minutes between the two games, while Oregon had 34.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s game, there was a minor scuffle, with both players and coaches involved. After the bout on ice, a few members of both teams engaged in a shouting match across the shared locker room hallway. When asked what caused this tension, Hanlon simply said “exuberance of youth.”

EWU returns to action next Friday and Saturday for a two-game series with the Western Washington Vikings. Hanlon expects an intense atmosphere for those games.

“We don’t really like each other a whole lot,” Hanlon said. “They’ll be ready to play us, they know they’re coming into our building and they’ll have their hands full. We’ll be glad to give them all they want.”

Both games are at the URC and begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free to students with ID and $5 for the general public.