The Arkansas Razorbacks ice hockey team welcomed the East Texas Baptist University Tigers to the Jones Center this weekend for the final pair of games before the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament. The Hogs cruised to an 11-4 win Friday night before doubling down with a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon.
Arkansas began the second game of the series with a strong first period, though without much success getting pucks past Tiger goaltender Alex Domas. Halfway through the frame, freshman center Kyle Patterson buried a feed from junior defenseman Tyler Valdron to give the Razorbacks an early lead.
It only took the Hogs another 25 seconds to find the twine again. Senior forward Chris Stovall’s shot from the left half-wall squeaked through Domas, and sophomore defenseman Jordan Deskeere tucked it home to double the Arkansas lead.
The Tigers cut the deficit in half a few minutes later when Arkansas junior goaltender Alex Kalmes turned the puck over behind his net. ETBU forward Matt Duncan centered it to forward Riley Knott who made no mistake with the scrambling netminder.
The Razorbacks’ play in the second period was noticeably slower as ETBU struck twice in the first seven minutes to take the lead.
“With the lead, we just got a little lazy and sat back a little bit,” Patterson said.
Just after the halfway mark of the second, the Hogs crashed the net and Stovall picked up a rebound in the goal crease to tie the score.
Arkansas senior defenseman Shaun Foster broke the 3-3 tie with a seeing-eye wrist shot from the left point before the third period was five minutes old.
Despite four Tiger penalties and around two minutes of 5-on-3 time in the final stanza, the Arkansas power play failed to result in a tally on the scoreboard. The Hogs would add another even-strength goal off the stick of sophomore forward Dakota Gottlieb to double the lead in the final three minutes.
Razorback head coach Keller Sims said that netfront presence had been a focus in practice over the last few weeks, adding that “greasy” goals, resulting from net crashes and goalie screens, “are the ones that win games, and ultimately win championships.”
The Razorbacks will hit the ice again Friday in Nashville for the SECHC Tournament. The quarterfinal match is at noon against eighth-seeded Tennessee.
“We need to get our power play clicking,” Sims said. “We’re going to keep focusing on getting to the dirty areas and just keeping our compete level high. We took some shifts off at times, and once you hit the playoffs you can’t do that.”