SLU Registers One Tie, One Loss To Rhode Island; Kent State Up Next

After a month layoff, the Saint Louis University hockey team shook off the cobwebs and jumped into its first two games of the second semester against the Rhode Island Rams. And except for one bad period, the Billikens looked like they were ready for a winning stretch to make the American College Hockey Association playoffs.

The Billikens tied Friday night’s game, 3-3, against the No. 14-ranked Rams and dropped a 9-6 decision on Saturday night.

In the first game of the series, the Rams jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods, but SLU countered with two goals in the third period. Vicious forechecking forced the Rams to cough up the puck in the offensive end.

Tim Carbery scored the third goal for SLU, and Justin Stiehr stopped 38 of 41 shots to notch the tie.

“We stayed on the puck all the time and continued to forecheck and create turnovers,” said coach John Bosch. “We capitalized on those and finished.

“It was probably the best game the team has played all year.”

In the second contest, Rhode Island scored four goals in a two-minute span during the first period to grab a 4-0 lead. Carbery trimmed the lead to 4-1 with 10:58 to play in the first period. SLU held the Rams in check for about seven minutes.

But with 3:41 to go, Jaime Murphy cruised in on a two-on-one break, used the defenseman as a screen and slid a shot between Stiehr’s pads for a 5-1 lead.

Seconds later, Chad Lewis intercepted a Stiehr clearing attempt at the right point and blasted in a slapshot past Stiehr for a commanding 6-1 advantage.

“Four goals in the beginning started things off on the wrong foot,” Bosch said.

The Bills played better hockey in the second period. Tim Niedbalski netted a goal with 16:46 to play in the second, cutting the lead to 6-2. But Rhode Island responded with a goal ninety seconds later. SLU had its chances midway through the period. On a power play, Dan Gauthier, Niedbalski and Dan Chadakahtzian all had quality scoring chances saved by the Rhode Island keeper.

The Rams warded off the Bills’ chances and came back with a tally in the final minutes. Craig Soltys danced around Stiehr and tipped the puck into a vacated net. Stiehr had come out to smother the puck, but missed it in the right circle.

In the third period, the Bills outscored the Rams 4-1 to make the score respectable.

“We only played two out of three periods,” Bosch said. “It was kind of a debacle.”

While the weekend may seem like somewhat of a setback because the No. 17-ranked Bills missed on an opportunity to move up in the rankings, Bosch thinks the team is really for the upcoming challenges against higher-ranked foes.

“The team really understands what the next five games mean,” Bosch said. “We’ve got to go out and play three good periods.”

This weekend SLU travels to No. 15 Kent State for a two-game set. Bosch expects Kent State to be similar to Rhode Island, but he thinks that the Bills have the edge in experience.

The Bills play their final two homes game on Friday Feb. 4 and Saturday Feb. 5 against Lake Superior State. Friday night’s game is at 8 p.m. at the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights, Ill. Saturday’s game will be played at The St. Charles Family Arena at 3 p.m.

The teams participate in a double header with the Missouri River Otters of the United Hockey League. The River Otters game will take place at 7:15 p.m.

Tickets for both games will be available to students on Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the lobby of Busch Memorial Center and in front of the Simon Recreation Center. The SLU players and the River Otter mascot will sell the tickets.