Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Hockey makes and breaks its 3-game win streak 

CW/ Elijah McWhorter

Alabama’s hockey team, the Frozen Tide, faced Illinois this weekend, eager to extend its winning streak from the previous weekend against Wake Forest. With only one more home series remaining for the semester, the team was determined to leave a lasting impression. 

The Frozen Tide secured another victory Friday night, extending its impressive winning streak with a triumph over the Fighting Illini in a hard-fought 3-1 game.  

Head coach Phil Tesoriero could not help but notice a significant transformation in the team’s dynamics. He said the team was finally starting to gel and play cohesively. 

“I hope this is our turning point,” Tesoriero said. “We are never going to look back. We are just going to keep moving forward. And the last two weeks are a good stepping stone.” 

The beginning proved to be a nail-biter, with both teams struggling to find the back of the net. It was not until near the end of the period that Illinois managed to slip one past Alabama’s goalie, Joe Hughes, after some nimble maneuvering around the net. Possession was evenly matched, yet both sides found it challenging to convert opportunities into shots on goal. 

Two shots were unleashed on Illinois’ goal, but the puck was swiftly carried up the ice by Illinois’ forwards. Although Alabama forward Greg Simmons managed to make the block, the rebound was quickly seized by Illinois, and despite Hughes’ best effort, the puck found its way into the net at the 10-minute mark. This would stand as Illinois’ only goal of the night. 

Tesoriero said he was very impressed with the team’s recent progress. After Alabama’s game against Wake Forest, he said in an interview that the defense needed to get better. Compared with last weekend, when Alabama let in four goals, this time the Frozen Tide has let in only one so far, a large step forward. 

“I feel like our defense has improved a lot. I mean, you could hear the communication as the game was going on,” Tesoriero said. “So I think overall, what we worked on this week in practice showed in this game.” 

Although the first period ended poorly for the Frozen Tide, as the game progressed into the second and third periods, the team returned to the ice with determination. Alabama stepped up its game in the second period, particularly dominating in face-offs compared with the first period. 

Illinois appeared to be lagging a bit in comparison with the first period, and forward Parks Wallace capitalized on this at the 13-minute mark, leveling the game with a shot on Illinois’ goalie, assisted by forward Chandelier Bilodeau. In a swift succession of plays, forward Nate Biron secured another goal for the Frozen Tide, putting it in the lead. 

Ryan Matustik, a freshman defenseman, attributed much of the team’s success to the growing chemistry and team dynamic the players have formed. 

“We practiced it, worked hard and won,” Matustik said. “I think the team’s dynamic has been improving each game, each practice, and getting to know each other better. Everyone works better.” 

Toward the end of the game, with the Frozen Tide leading 2-1, Illinois decided to pull its goalie out of the net and put another forward on the ice in an attempt to increase its offensive pressure. However, this left Illinois’ net wide open, providing an opportunity for Simmons to capitalize on the unattended goal and score yet another point. This extended the lead, ultimately sealing the game with a final score of 3-1 in favor of the Frozen Tide. 

“It feels nice to start a win streak,” forward Cal Mansfield said. “It is obviously tough to start up with our eight losses, but it is good to turn it around. Bounces are starting to go our way and I think the season is going to start to do the same.” 

In Saturday’s game, the Frozen Tide put up a valiant effort, but ultimately fell short in a marathon 19-round shootout, resulting in a 4-3 victory for Illinois. Three goals were notched by forward Evan Brown, Bilodeau assisted by Simmons and forward Jenson Lopez, and Louis Decola assisted by Brown.  

On the opposing side, Illinois’ offense managed to score three goals of its own, pushing the game into overtime. Despite a hard-fought extra period, neither team could find the net, leading to the dramatic shootout, which ultimately saw Illinois emerge victorious.  

In hopes of restarting its win streak, the Frozen Tide will travel to Michigan to play Calvin College this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CT and Friday at 6 p.m. CT. 

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