FREMONT, Neb. – After over two months off, Midland University resumed their men’s hockey season over the weekend with a two-game series with the University of Jamestown on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors, whose last game came back on Halloween, dropped both games of the weekend. Losing Friday night 8-5 and Saturday 6-4 to the Jimmies.
With the setbacks, Midland falls to 4-4 on the season with the bulk of their schedule remaining. Jamestown moves to 7-6-3 on the season.
Friday’s game saw the Warriors fall behind by two goals through the first eight minutes of action. The Jimmies were able to convert on a pair of power-plays to go up 2-0 at the 7:50 mark of the first.
Midland responded with a goal by Ondrej Blaha a few minutes later but the Jimmies got that goal back before the period expired. Ryan Donovan and Hamish Campbell assisted on Blaha’s goal, which came on a Warriors’ power-play.
In the second period, Donovan found the back of the net off a pass from Campbell less than five minutes in on another power-play chance for Midland. The Warriors would get another goal in the period, this time from Luke Sanko at the 9:51 mark off of an assist by Blaha and Donovan.
Unfortunately, the Jamestown offense caught fire moments later, scoring three goals in 1:10 of game time. With an earlier goal sandwiched between the Warriors’ two of the period, the Jimmies held a 7-3 lead at the second intermission.
A comeback attempt was still very possible for Midland and things looked promising to start the third as Fletcher Chun scored a first-minute goal off a pass from Phil Liakakos. Then Blaha would pull the Warriors closer at the 6:27 mark with his second goal of the game. Sanko and Blaha were credited with the assists.
Penalties ensued thereafter and neither team could get into any sort of rhythm. Jamestown would add a goal just before the midpoint to make it 7-5, and then coasted to the victory.
“Friday was our first game back after a long time off and it showed,” said assistant coach Jan Dam. “We didn’t start playing until late and then we weren’t disciplined. Our offense was good but our penalty kill was awful.”
In the second game, it was a battle on the ice throughout, with Jamestown getting a first period goal on a power-play chance. They would get another in the second, but afterward, the Warriors came together and stopped any further man-advantages the Jimmies had.
After falling behind 3-0, the third goal on a shorthanded chance, the Warriors got their offensive game going. Blaha scored late in the second period with 27 seconds on the clock, giving Midland some momentum heading into the final intermission.
Coming out of the dressing rooms, the Warriors scored to pull within a goal. Jack Royer found the back of the net off a pass from Blaha and Campbell, to make it 3-2 with just under 15 minutes to play.
After an unlucky break that allowed Jamestown another goal, Royer found the back of the net again. This time, unassisted and on a Midland power-play.
Late in the period, the Warriors pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, and with another small miscue, the Jimmies scored an empty-net goal.
Hope was not lost as the Jimmies would commit a bad penalty to give the Warriors essentially a two-man advantage with their goalie shelved. Fletcher Chun slapped home a goal with 13 seconds on the clock to bring Midland back within one. However, another mistimed pass led to a look at an open net and the Jimmies’ second empty-netter, sealing the game 6-4.
“I thought we played stronger on Saturday and were more disciplined as a team,” added Coach Dam. “I thought we outplayed Jamestown in the first and it was a close game throughout. We had a few small mistakes that they took advantage of. I thought our defense stepped up after a tough game the night before.”
Angus Laing suffered the loss on Friday for Midland, playing 30:42 in net and allowing six goals on 30 shots (24 saves). Jaden Gardner came on in relief, allowing a pair of goals on 28 shots (26 saves).
Gardner started game two and went the distance. Playing 60 minutes, allowing 4 goals on 39 shots (36 saves).
Midland (4-4) will hit the road this upcoming weekend for a pair of conference games at Maryville University on January 16-17. The Warriors will face the Saints in Chesterfield, Missouri on Friday and Saturday in Midwest Collegiate Hockey action. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.