Playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season, the Illinois State Redbirds hockey team displayed dominance over the University of Kansas Jayhawks in their Thursday night and Sunday afternoon games.
In front of large home crowds all weekend, led by students, family, and alumni, the Redbirds showcased their talent by beating the Jayhawks twice, in blowout fashion. In the home opener Thursday night, the Redbirds crushed the Jayhawks eight to one. Then on Sunday, the Redbirds finished the sweep over the Jayhawks with a five to one victory.
Extra motivated to win their home opener at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum, the Redbirds scored goals early and often resulting in an eight to one game 1 victory.
The Redbirds started the scoring with two quick goals, only minutes a part from each other, in the first period. Redbirds forward Eric Brown scored the first goal of the game on an assist from defenseman Brian Harrison. Then moments later, Redbirds forward Phil O’Connor gave his team a two to zero lead with a goal assisted by Redbirds defensemen Jon Luevano and Harrison.
The second period was again controlled by the Redbirds resulting in another two goals scored. Redbirds forward Mike McKeague scored the third goal of the game 40 seconds into the period. Redbirds forward O’Connor assisted on the goal and the Redbirds took a three to zero lead.
Then with seven minutes to play in the second, Redbirds forward Steve Hong increased his teams lead by scoring the first of his three goals on the night. Forward Brown assisted on the Redbirds fourth goal of the night. The Redbirds headed into the third period with a four to zero lead.
The Jayhawks, who had been silent all game, finally scored their lone goal of the night. The Redbirds were now only winning four to one, but the goal against served the team good. The Redbirds ended the period by scoring four goals unanswered goals in five minutes.
Redbirds forward Hong scored his second and third goals of the night giving him the hat-trick and his team a six to zero lead. Assisting on his second goal was forward Brown and defenseman Harrison on his third goal.
Then scoring his second goal of the night, Redbirds forward McKeague scored his teams seventh goal of the night on assists from forwards Jon Galvan and O’Connor. Then with a minute left in the game, Redbirds forward Jon Marino finished his teams scoring on a goal assisted by forwards James Cioffi and Mike Giacinto.
The Redbirds won their home opener against the Jayhawks eight to one.
Again the Redbirds scored goals early and often in game two against the Jayhawks. This time the Redbirds won five to one and improved their home record to two wins and zero losses.
The Redbirds took the early one to zero lead over the Jayhawks on an unassisted goal scored by Redbirds forward Mike Giacinto. His goal was the only tally for both teams at the end of the first period.
Then to start the second period, Redbirds forward Hong was at it again. He scored the second goal of the night for his team, while scoring the first of his two goals on the game. Assisting on the goal was forward O’Connor and defenseman Luevano.
Redbirds defenseman Luevano scored the third goal of the game to give his team a three to zero lead. His goal came with two minutes left in the second period and the score remained that until the third.
The Redbirds finished their scoring on Hong’s second goal of the night and the teams fifth. The Jayhawks were down five to zero, late in the third, when they finally scored their first goal. For the Jayhawks it was a little too late and the game ended as a five to one victory for the Redbirds. The Redbirds now have a two and zero record at home.