UCO Hockey: Bronchos Win Big in Physical Game

UCO Hockey: Bronchos Win Big in Physical Game

The Bronchos defeated Robert Morris University Friday night.

The UCO Hockey team with members of the UCO football team. The football team came to show support for Bronchos hockey. Photo by Nathan Balwdin/ The Vista.

The 10th ranked UCO Bronchos (17-7-0) took on Robert Morris University (PA) (8-10-1) at Arctic Ice Arena Friday night. The game, which was expected to have its fair share of goals, looked more defensive despite a 5-1 victory.

Just 15 seconds into the game, Andrei Novikov sent a laser over to sophomore Alexander Jmaeff for a quick goal.

“They couldn’t match our speed,” said head coach Craig McAillster. “They weren’t ready for that type of speed.”

Four minutes later, Jmaeff returned the favor by dishing out his fourteenth assist to Novikov, who put the puck in the net for the team’s second goal in just five minutes.

The Bronchos put on heavy pressure in the first period with a relentless attack, putting up 22 shots.

Beginning in the second period the style of the game changed. “Between the first and second periods they decided to try and slow us down, make life a little harder for us,” said McAllister.

Early in the second period, Chad Roorda laid a tremendous hit, giving the puck to senior Taylor Herndon.

Accompanied by Josh Wyatt and Sam Rice, the three passed the puck in a classic tic-tac-toe fashion before Rice capped off the attack with a goal.

The rest of the game shaped up to be high-flying, with a large handful of penalty minutes. The Bronchos spent a whopping 16 minutes in the penalty box.

“They tried to get us off our game a bit after the first,” said junior Kurtis Johnson. “The emotions got away from us for a bit.”

Once the Bronchos figured out RMU’s game plan, the team began to express their physical dominance, overpowering the opponent and opening up shooting lanes for others.

“It’s really hard to stop us,” McAllister said. “It’s hard enough to cover one or two of our goal scorers, let alone the five or six we have.” UCO scored five goals from five different players.

Balance was something the Bronchos focused on throughout the week and it showed in their performance in all aspects of the game. Players seemed to be out on a mission.

Robert Morris’ lone goal of the game came from a mishandled puck by a UCO defenseman, which led to a one-on-one with goalie Alex Henry. The Bronchos immediately responded with a goal by Taylor Herndon.

When the game was all but over, UCO capped off the night with a late goal. With 25 seconds remaining in the third period, Johnson scored his first goal of the season.

“It’s been quite the drought for me,” Johnson mentioned. “I’m just really happy to get the monkey off my back.” His last goal was back in 2014.

Game two of this weekend series is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m., followed by  a free skate with the team following the game.

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