The Vikings Men’s Hockey team looked to improve their record in back to back games against Erie Community College last weekend at home after getting off to a 2-3 start to begin their season.
However, it wouldn’t come easy to the Vikings as they hosted a very talented Erie team that came into the two game series with an overall record of 5-2 and looked to make a statement to the Vikings that they were the best team in the NJCAA. That is exactly what happened as the Cats beat the Vikings by a combined score of 8-0.
Friday night was an all-around mess for the Vikings as Erie defeated Hudson Valley, 6-0. This game got out of hand very quickly for the Vikings as starting goalie Nate Muller allowed three goals in the first period and Erie had 18 shots on goal in the first period alone to help give themselves a lead and some early momentum.
Erie then scored two more goals in just under a minute in the middle of the second period to extend the 5-0 lead over Hudson Valley, which ended Muller’s night as he was pulled after giving up the fifth goal of the game in favor of freshman Jeff Smith. Muller exited the game on Friday night with 17 saves on 22 shots by Erie.
“I didn’t think Nate played bad, I just think that you put in another guy and hope that it might change the momentum of the game a little bit and unfortunately it didn’t work out that way,” said hockey coach Matt Alvey.
Erie eventually scored one more goal in the middle of the third period to secure a 6-0 victory over the Vikings in the first game of the two game series. This game was complete domination by Erie as the Cats outshot the Vikings 50-22 in the game and scored on three of their four power play chances, a bit of a tough game for the Vikings penalty killing unit.
“It is hard to get a win, if we can’t get shots on net we can’t generate any offensive movement and we simply won’t win,” said freshman forward Gavin Litz.
“The adjustments we have to do is bearing down and getting pucks out and making right decisions with the puck,” said Alvey. “When pucks are put on net by the goaltender we are picking up men in front and clearing them out and I think we did a pretty poor job of doing that tonight.”
The Vikings lost their second straight game to Erie on Saturday 2-0 in a well fought game between the two teams. Each team had 26 shots on goal and had their fair share of chances to score, but Erie was simply the better team.
Smith had a very solid game in goal as he had 24 saves in the game including 14 in a row in a scoreless first period. However, Smith was outplayed by Erie’s sophomore goalie William Korczynski.
Korczynski was very solid for Erie in the two games as he stopped all 48 shots that the Vikings had on him in the two games combined. Erie scored one goal in each of the second and third periods to help finish off their second win in a row against the Vikings at Hudson Valley.
“We are really having a tough time finding the back of the net. Their goalie played great, their goalie played well. Our goalie played very well today and it was a tough loss because we did battle, we tried to win a hockey game,” said Alvey.
Even though the Vikings fell on the short end of this game to a very good Erie hockey team, Alvey believes that a game like this could boost their confidence.
“Our work ethic was a lot better today all-around. We were really willing to compete out there today and tried to win a hockey game whereas I thought yesterday we were just kind of here, we weren’t really competing at a high level,” said Alvey on Saturday.
The team’s penalty killing did improve after Friday. After allowing 3 power play goals on Friday night, the Vikings penalty killing unit bounced back on Saturday and didn’t allow a goal in four power play opportunities by Erie.
“I truly think it came down to being committed to playing more of our systems and coming together and having great work ethic,” said Alvey on the improved penalty killing unit. There was a total of 14 penalties and 8 power play chances total in the game in what was a very tough fought game.
“I think it was a battle out there today, I think guys were trying to set their lines out there and everybody was trying to show what they had,” said Alvey. With two losses in a row to Erie, the Vikings overall record dropped to 2-5. Their next game isn’t until Dec. 4 when they take on the Siena Club Hockey at 7 p.m.
“[We have to] focus on what we do best: dumping the puck in, chasing, banging bodies, which we did not do today,” said Litz on what the team needs to do to bounce back and get a win.