By Havanna Hagans
Eastern’s Ice Colonels have been away from home for nearly a month. Just when the Colonels become comfortable after a home win Friday, injuries swept the bench and even the chilliness from their own ice proved to be discomforting.Eastern split the games against the University of Dennison at the end of October and yielded the same when facing Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College the first weekend of this month.
After a week of preparation, it was hoped the games against Middle Tennessee would reel in two wins instead of one.
But, Saturday night’s game was nowhere near promising.
After beating their opponents 8-2 Friday, the Ice Colonels lost a grueling game Saturday 1-11.
“Yesterday things went how we wanted them to go,” said Assistant Coach Curt White. “Today, it was like a total collapse.”
The Ice Colonels played for a crowd of nearly 400 Friday night, demonstrating speed, determination, a lot of blocked goal attempts and solidarity as a team. But, the 8-2 win, fell merely in the shadows, one period at a time, as the Ice Colonels struggled to score Saturday.
“With this group of kids, we’re a young team and half of the battle is keeping them together,” said Coach Mike Sosnowski. “When we are struggling like we’re doing, the good thing is the guys are still together.”
During the first period of the game Saturday, the pace appeared to be slow. However, with 0:12 left, as the momentum picked up, the clock stopped as the referee noticed Chris “River” Brown lying flat on the ice.
“He went in head first to the board,” White said. “He got his face slammed into the glass and he kind of fell in a precarious way.”
The game was at a standstill for nearly 10 minutes while Brown was examined. Players from both teams tapped their hockey sticks against the rink and fans cheered in support of Brown as he was assisted to his feet and escorted off the ice.
“I feel like I’ve got scrambled eggs inside my head,” Brown said, as he joined the audience for the remaining portion of the game.
However, with Brown no longer on the bench in addition to Andy Aruzza and Derek Rusin, the Colonels continued to struggle, but the fans roared on-some of who were looking for a fight to quench their thirst for an aggressive night of ice hockey.
“The fans are awesome,” White said. “When these guys get riled up, the fans love to see them fight. Unfortunately for us, what’s good for the fans, at times, isn’t good for us, if it leaves us in the penalty box.”
The Ice Colonels had 38 penalties Friday night against Middle Tennessee and spent a good porting of Saturday’s game in the box as well.
With 1:32 left in the game, the Colonels scored their first and only point of the night.
“Like I told them in the locker room, we win as a team and we lose as a team,” Sosnowski said. “It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces back together and going on in the right direction.”
Coach Sosnowski said, as a coach, he is responsible for some of the blame.
“We talked all week about how this team is not going to be more talented than us,” Sosnowski said. “They’re coming to win a hockey game and we’ve got to be prepared for it. It’s going to come down to who is going to out-effort the other guy and we did that last night. Tonight, we walked in and topped out.”
Despite injuries and all the preparation it takes for a home game, Sosnowski said it is all part of the sport.
“The game of hockey is 90 percent mental,” Sosnowski said. “If you’re not prepared mentally, you’re not going to give the effort. It’s a learning experience for all of us. Curt and I learned something tonight and hopefully the kids will learn something and we can learn something as a team-that you just can’t take a night off.”
The Ice Colonels will play against the University of Louisville away tomorrow night and midnight Saturday at home.