A week after the Blue Streaks’ goaltenders got peppered with pucks in losses to Pittsburgh and Slippery Rock, the defense stepped up to support their keepers.
JCU went on a three game winning streak, beating Akron, Mercyhurst and Rochester.
The Blue Streaks began their run with a 10-4 romp over Akron last Wednesday.
JCU overcame two ejections due to illegal hits in the game. Sophomore Zack Skook and freshman Ed Seibolt were both tossed in the first period.
Essentially working with only three lines, the Streaks played a lackluster first two periods and allowed a relatively inexperienced Akron squad to stay in the game.
Despite a strong showing through the first two periods, starting goaltender freshman Michael-Patrick Bagnowski was pulled in favor of junior Nick Fabrizio in hopes of shaking up the team.
JCU played with increased intensity in the third, and pulled away from Akron with six goals in the final period.
Junior Scott Matthews had his second multi goal game of the season recording two goals, including the game sealing empty net goal.
The line of Matthews and freshmen Nick Morici and Ryan Atkinson dominated the final two periods, recording four of JCU’s goals.
Another player who had a solid outing was Chris Schmoldt, who was praised afterwards by teammates.
“That might have been the best game I’ve seen Chris play,” said junior Nate Dobson, who also added a goal in the game. “He really brought the energy in the third [period].”
Dobson was echoed by fellow defenseman, junior Brendan Lewis.
“Chris stepped up and improved the team,” said Lewis. “It’s all about playing hard for the team.”
The Blue Streaks were able to translate their hot streak from Wednesday into a 5-4 comeback win against Mercyhurst on Friday.
After trailing 4-2 after two periods, JCU battled back to tie the score and send the game to overtime.
The third period explosion was led by Atkinson, who finished with two goals, and junior Louis Grandinetti. Grandinetti’s breakaway goal tied the game late in the third.
Even though JCU started overtime with the man advantage, they failed to score.
However, sophomore defenseman Matt Thoma pinched in and shoveled in a rebound for the game winning goal.
The win was JCU’s first against Mercyhurst in program history.
“That was a big win because we have never beat Mercyhurst,” said Schmoldt. “That is a big stepping stone for the team.”
JCU had one more game to play over the weekend, returning home to face Rochester on Saturday afternoon.
Matthews and Skook put JCU up 2-1 in the first, and Grandinetti added two more to make it 4-2 after two periods.
Like against Akron, JCU allowed an inexperienced team to stick around.
“We couldn’t really get it going early on,” said James Stanley. “We shouldn’t have let them [Rochester] keep it that close.”
Rochester almost repeated the Blue Streaks feat of the previous night, tying the score 4-4 in the third.
However, a defensive breakdown allowed Chris Schmoldt to get open on a 2-on-1 and find the back of the net for the game winning goal.
JCU’s defense, though, was the story of the week. They had allowed 98 shots on net in two games against Pitt and Slippery Rock the week before; this week, they allowed only 74 shots to three different opponents.
JCU’s improved defensive zone will be tested again on Friday as they face Slippery Rock in their third conference game this year.