FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University lost a pair of games this weekend to McKendree University at home. The Bearcats, who came into the weekend as the top team in the Midwest College Hockey league, escaped with a pair of close wins. Thy won 3-2 on Friday night and then 6-4 on Saturday night. Midland falls to 10-12 on the season and 5-7 in the MCH while McKendree improves to 12-2 and 10-2 in league games.
On Friday the two teams played an even first period with each scoring once. McKendree took the lead 6:21 before Midland responded at the 16:24 mark. Fletcher Chun scored for the Warriors with Drew Carriere and Luke Sanko assisting on the power play goal.
In the second period the Bearcats got a power play goal of their own less than two minutes into the period. They would add to their lead five minutes later, scoring the third goal of the night at the 6:51 mark.
Midland would mount a comeback in the third period. Jesse Stepp found the back of the net on the power play at the 6:52 mark. Kevin Finley and Phil Liakakos assisted on the goal. The Warriors did their best to get the equalizer over the final 13 minutes but were held in check by the Bearcats.
Dakota McDonald was saddled with the loss. He had 22 saves on 25 attempts.
Saturday’s game once again saw the two teams play an even opening period. After McKendree scored at the 7:33 mark, Midland responded with a goal of their own near the midway point. Finley slapped home the early equalized on a feed from Mason Cirone at the 11:55 mark.
After the intermission this snowballed in a hurry in favor of McKendree. With both teams serving the remaining seconds of coincidental penalties, the Bearcats lit the lamp a mere 19 seconds into the frame. Then in nearly the same amount of time they added to their lead with a second goal in the opening minute, scoring at the 0:47 mark.
Things continued to go McKendree’s way as they added yet another to go up 4-1 less than four minutes into the third.
Midland swapped goalies after the fourth goal allowed and things started to settle down until McKendree scored yet again at the 14:16 mark of the second. Chun would get one of the goals back though on a nice breakout at the 15:17 mark while Midland was on the penalty kill.
In the third Sanko scored his 10th goal of the year off a pass from Ryan Conybear to begin the Warriors comeback attempt. McKendree though would stretch the lead back out to three at the midway point of the period.
With time winding down until four minutes, Midland pulled their goalie to put pressure on the Bearcats, who swapped out their goalie in the final period after the Warriors’ third goal. The move paid off quickly as Tyler Kupka scored to pull Midland back within two at the 17:32 mark. Conybear and recently reinstated Colton Jones assisted on the goal.
A little over a minute later though Midland would take a bad penalty, ending their hopes at a comeback for the series split.
Angus Laing took the loss, going 23:58 in net while allowing four goals and compiling 11 saves. McDonald had 19 saves on 21 shots in relief.
Midland will get a bit of rest now as they have the upcoming weekend off before hosting Illinois State (10-12, 5-2 MCH) on February 7-8. Puck drop between the Warriors and Redbirds is set for 7:45 p.m. on Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.