Men’s hockey defeats Mercyhurst in double home win

AIC+vs+Lakers+Kickoff

Andjela Bublic

AIC vs Lakers Kickoff

Andjela Bublic, Staff Writer

The Yellow Jackets have their eighth consecutive victory at Springfield’s MassMutual Center after winning a double over Mercyhurst University on January 31 and February 1. AIC scored a combined 11 goals to Mercyhurst’s 7.

The Mercyhurst Lakers came all the way from Erie, Pennsylvania to play against the Yellow Jacket ice hockey team.

The first game of the weekend was Friday, January 31st at 6pm, and it ended in a 4-3 win for AIC.

Senior defenseman Janis Jaks knew not to underestimate his opponent going in. “They are in the last place in our conference,” Jaks said, “but that doesn’t mean the game is going to be easy. Every team is good in our conference. And we have to be ready each game.”

The Lakers proved that they did not come all the way to Springfield to just “play” hockey. The first period only saw one goal, and that went to Mercyhurst.

The Yellow Jackets finally woke up in the second period before it was too late to make amends. Junior forward Tobias Fladeby started the play, passing it to sophomore Parker Revering who shot from a distance.

The keeper was wide awake to the danger. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the rebound of senior Blake Christensen was too fast for the goalie to grab it in time.

In the third period, the Yellow Jackets once again started off on the right track with a very early shot by Blake Christensen. Again, a rebound from Fladeby ended up on Christensen’s stick, and he made sure the puck ended up in the back of the net.

AIC got its first lead of the game in the third period, but the Lakers had a fighting mindset that made them hard to defend.

Mercyhurst tied the game once again, but the Yellow Jackets responded quickly with a fast puck sent from Jared Pike to Kapcheck.

Andjela Bublic
AIC team celebrating

Kapcheck dribbled through a defender and took the chance to shoot. Fortunately, Austen Long was there to make sure that any other rebound was taken.

After the game, Fladeby, from Asker, Norway, described the pressure that the Yellow Jackets were under. “Our mentality before this weekend was to have our eyes on six points,” he said. “We are in a tight race with Sacred Heart University for first place in our conference, which is AHA [Atlantic Hockey Association], and we need to fight for every single point.”

Students seemed to be enjoying the show as well.

Tilda Edenvik, an AIC student athlete who was there to cheer on the Yellow Jackets, noted, “I always like to watch ice hockey. I am from Sweden. We have an ice hockey league. I think coming to ice hockey games always makes me feel a little bit better about my homesickness,” she chuckled.

“I also think our team is a really good team and hopefully, they will make it far in their championship.”

The following day, Saturday, February 1, AIC and Mercyhurst were back in the MassMutual Center at 1 pm. The second game proved to be a high-scoring affair, ending in a 7-4 routing of the Lakers by a dominant AIC team.

In the Saturday game, AIC started off on the right skate. The team jumped out to a quick lead, leaving the Lakers down in the first few minutes.

Within 16 minutes of the game starting, AIC scored another point. Redshirt sophomore forward Luka Maver found senior forward Joel Kocur, who finalized the play by scoring.

The Lakers responded quite fast in the beginning of the second period. Geoff Kitt scoring within the first 30 seconds of the period.

AIC senior forward Jared Pike dashed and Lakers’ hope of coming back by adding another point soon after. 

The Lakers made the game interesting in the third period. They scored 2 points in just over 30 seconds, cutting the lead to only 2 points: 6 to 4 for the Yellow Jackets.

While the Lakers’ defense put up a valiant effort, AIC kept leading the game. The Yellow Jackets’ attacking technique overcame the Lakers’ defense, which only became active by the end of the game.

Fladeby described the Yellow Jackets’ strategy. “We knew that Mercyhurst is a very good transition team,” he said, “and dangerous off the rush. We made a game plan to limit our turnovers, and that helped us to leave the weekend with 2 wins.”

Senior forward Joel Kocur was named player of the game. Kocur had two goals and two assists, the most compared to his own teammates and the other team’s players. Luka Maver and Janis Jaks also scored two goals and one assist.

Reflecting on the sweep, Jaks said, “I think they [Mercyhurst] played well and they were desperate to win both games, but we stuck to our game plan. And that was the key for success this weekend against them.”

Fladeby was reflective after the weekend’s games. “We have an old team this year, with many seniors and juniors,” he said. “And we are running out of home games in our building. We all have an extra spark to make these last home games memorable.”

The Yellow Jackets have another home game against their number one rival Sacred Heart University, on the February 11 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. They will expect their opponent to be stronger than ever after this next week of practice.