By ALEX BARBER
Eastern, ranked No. 37 in Division II, is scheduled to play Lindenwood University Bellville (13-1), the No. 1 Division II team in the American College Hockey Association, according to myhockeyranking.com.
Both teams have scored a lot of goals, and let even fewer in. Eastern (6-1) has scored 69 goals, while only allowing 18. Lindenwood has scored 70, compared to just the 14 goals it’s given up. The difference between the teams is the strength of schedule. Eastern’s hockey team has only played one other team that had at least a .500 record or better, and that was Marshall (2-2). Lindenwood has faced and defeated Division 1 teams such as University of Arkansas and Missouri State University.
Before Eastern plays the No.1 Division II team in ACHA, the Colonels must improve on some key aspects of its game. So far, the EKU hockey team has won six games since losing the season opener to Xavier, but during that time the team has still not played its best hockey.
“We need to come out after every period strong and we can’t hold back,” Captain Andrew Briggs said. “We need to play a full 60 minutes.”
Over the past few games, the Eastern hockey team has seemed to adjust to what its opponents have been doing during the game.
“We have to play our game,” said Captain Briggs about what the team needs to do to other teams. “We can’t let the other team do what they want and then we just simply adjust to them. As a team we have to come together and play our game, so we force the other teams to play into our game.”
In hockey special teams, one team gets a man or is down a man. The Colonel ice hockey team has taken too many penalties, which could cost it a game. Resting top players is important when the game is on the line, but a team gets frustrated when it has to play a man down for long periods of time.
When the Eastern hockey team is not performing as it should, the team must stay calm and organize itself when it faces adversities. When the team has a man up, it has to be more consistent at breaking out the puck into the offensive zone, moving the puck around in the offensive zone and keep on building the team chemistry.
Facing the No. 1 ranked team in Division II ACHA will be a challenge for the Colonels, but as long as the team keeps improving as a whole, it could make it a challenge for Lindenwood.