JEFFERSON CITY — Loyal hockey fans gathered in the Washington Park Ice Arena’s frosty confines for the Missouri club hockey’s season openers against Illinois State Saturday and Sunday.
Both games resulted in frustrating 7-2 losses for the Tigers at the hands of the Redbirds, arguably one of the conference’s most physical teams.
“Gritty is too nice of a word,” said senior winger and team captain Danny Walsh.
Freshman forward Chase Haller took a 10-minute penalty during the first game and spent more minutes in the box the next as tension mounted.
“That’s not what you want to do, especially in your first game,” Haller said.
The Tigers had virtually no time to prepare for the young season. Their roster was made official two weeks ago.
“That was the difference,” Walsh said. “We’ve only had a few practices up until this point. This is one of the best teams in the league that we’ll play all year so it’s definitely a tough first challenge.”
Walsh scored the first goal of the season for MU during the first period in the first game.
Coach John Lamond, in his 11th year with the club, was the most frustrated after the first couple games. Officials handed out game-misconduct penalties to Missouri in each contest.
“It was pretty disappointing,” Lamond said. “When they see what it costs them in a game like this and they see that it really turned the game around they’ll hopefully behave moving forward.”
Although the team has not been together long, Lamond has high expectations for this season.
“I think anything short of what we did last year would be really disappointing. Going into our playoff finals we made it to the finals at the MACHA and then a run to a regional tournament,” Lamond said. “It’s probably our most talented team, it just hasn’t had a lot of time to be together yet.”