After a little rocky start to the season, the Ramblers entered the weekend games against RMU Peoria coming off a two-week break. From the start of the Friday’s game it was quite apparent Coach Bigott used the break wisely to continue the growth of the team. “We’re still a young team with only a couple of upperclassmen. Our message is to play the right way. Be first on pucks, push the pace and good things will happen.”
From the start of Friday’s game, it seemed evident the players are following Coach’s message. The Ramblers controlled much of the play in the first half of the first period. A scrum in front of senior netminder, Rusty Cain, led to a Loyola player closing a glove over the puck in the crease. RMU scored on the ensuing penalty shot taking an early 1-0 lead.
The Ramblers continued to pressure the play for the balance of the first. On a late faceoff in RMU’s zone, junior forward Dominic Marcus won the draw to Patrick McKnight, one of the Ramblers sophomore sensations. McKnight moved the puck quickly to fellow sophomore, Steve Lockwood, who sniped a shot from the point. The game stayed tied heading into the first intermission.
The second period saw the Ramblers get into penalty trouble. Having to kill a five-minute major, including a full 2-minute 5 on 3, the tired Ramblers conceded a goal just as the penalty expired. RMU took a 2-1 lead into the 3rd period.
The game was capped off by a wild third period seeing RMU scoring one powerplay and two shorthanded goals. The Ramblers kept it interesting with goals by freshman Luke Ignell and juniors Dante Todaro and Dominic Marcus. In the end, RMU added an empty netter to ice the 6-4 win. The Ramblers totaled 22 shots on net and Cain stopped 23 of 28.
Saturday’s game was a true back and forth affair. The Ramblers opened the scoring on a nice goal by Dante Todaro with assists to Luke Ignell and Dominic Marcus. While RMU answered back with a goal of their own, Loyola reestablished their one goal lead prior the end of the first period. On the powerplay, Todaro again notched the tally with assists to Lockwood and Ignell.
RMU scored the only goal of the second to tie up the game. Their goal came on the powerplay while Lockwood was serving a minor crosschecking penalty. Both teams swapped goals 20 seconds apart about halfway through the third. Loyola’s tally came on a even strength goal when Marcus found sophomore Mike Beam in front of the net. Beam, making no mistake, buried the puck past a sprawling RMU netminder.
With the game tied at three entering the final minute of play, Marcus chipped the puck forward to Lockwood who swiftly knifed through three RMU players then deked the goalie with a backhand fake. With the goalie out of position, Lockwood slid the puck into the open net. Loyola killed off the final 57 seconds notching their first win of the season.
On the win, Coach Bigott said, “I’m really proud of the boys this weekend. You can see the chemistry starting to form. They’re playing as a group, supporting the play and are starting to limit chances. I thought Rusty had a great weekend in net. He made timely saves, giving the boys a chance.”
Loyola takes to the road for their next set of games taking on Aurora University on October 20 and 21.