UCO Hockey ices University of Mary in first faceoff, 3-0
Mary melts Bronchos 4-2 in second game against North Dakota team
The third-ranked UCO Bronchos hockey team split a two-game series against Bismarck, North Dakota’s 19th-ranked University of Mary at Arctic Edge Ice Arena, winning 3-0 on Friday night before falling 4-2 in their Saturday night matchup. The Bronchos dominated offensively in the first game, scoring two goals early through freshman forward Cash Regan and senior forward Sam Sykes, who added another goal in the third period as UCO cruised to their ninth win of the year.
The second game, UCO’s first loss of the season, saw the Bronchos let a 2-1 lead slip away due to a lack of aggression on offense late in the game, as well as some questionable calls from the officials. After a scoreless first period that saw UCO outshoot Mary 14-6, the Marauders’ Cyril Nagurski got the scoring underway early in the second period, slotting in a goal at the 2:43 mark for a 1-0 lead. But the Bronchos charged back late in the second, with Sam Sykes and senior forward Adam Stalzer scoring goals within 22 seconds of each other for a 2-1 lead heading into the final period.
It was then that everything fell apart: the Bronchos, who had outshot the Marauders 27-13 thus far, were outshot 8-4 by Mary in the third period. This was largely due to a much more defensive strategy that Central Oklahoma employed in the period, often opting to clear the puck to the other side of the rink rather than holding it and skating at their opponents to try and widen their lead. Mary took advantage of this, biding their time while crafting new tactics to find ways to attack with speed, bringing their defensemen up the sides while overloading the middle with their forwards.
The strategy worked, both in terms of creating more offensive opportunities, as well as making the Bronchos frustrated enough to commit testy penalties that the officiating crew seemed all too happy to call. This was much to the chagrin of the home crowd, however, who loudly let the referees know how dissatisfied they were that UCO continued to be penalized for fouls that Mary seemed to get away with. With less than five minutes to go in the game, Mary forward Andrew Huber slapped in the tying goal, reinvigorating the Marauders and further frustrating the Bronchos. As tension and fouls mounted, including a roughing call against Sam Sykes, Mary seemed to further galvanize. They shocked the Broncho supporters as forward Seth Cushing put the Marauders ahead 3-2 just 28 seconds after the tying goal had been scored.
Try as they might to score a tying goal and extend the game, the Bronchos failed to get any shots on goal for the rest of the matchup, even giving up one last empty-net goal once again to Cushing as the upset defeat was rubber-stamped by a score of 4-2. The team still received a standing ovation from their vociferously supportive fanbase as they headed to the locker room. The same cannot be said for the officiating crew.
The Bronchos will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season in their next matchup against Maryville University this weekend on Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4 at Arctic Edge Ice Arena. Both games start at 7:05 p.m., and attendance for students is only $5 for individual games or $25 for a season pass.