DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
In a battle between two undefeated powerhouses in the CSCHL, only the Lindenwood Lions remained perfect on Saturday night, defeating the Iowa State Cyclones 5-1.
The Cyclones entered the game 4-0 on the season, making it a great opportunity for the Lions to prove themselves against stiff opposition.
“We wanted to prove that we were the better team,” goaltender Cooper Seedott said. “Throughout 60 minutes, we skated up and down the ice with them. We wore their guys out, and gave our defense a break.”
Through the first five minutes, Lindenwood was looking hungry. The Cyclones struggled to get the puck out of their zone, conceding strong chances to Zach Mitchell and Brendan Murphy. The Lions’ onslaught was rewarded just a few minutes later, after a dazzling display of skill by Murphy.
Murphy continued his strong start to the game with a stylish move past his defender, opening up Lindenwood winger Cade Owad to his left. Owad took advantage of the space provided to him, sending his shot past Iowa State goaltender Matt Goedeke with 12:41 left in the first period.
Three minutes later, the Lions nearly doubled their lead through Shayne Plummer. Plummer received the puck with his back towards goal, and nearly scooted his backhanded shot into the bottom left corner. He would then have another golden opportunity with 4:32 left, being delivered an empty net chance from Alex Kalau, but it was sent just wide. Iowa State was called for a slashing penalty on the play.
This call on the Cyclones’ Thomas Hanson would cost the visitors. At the 16:06 mark in the first period, Lindenwood’s Tommy Heinzman found Mitchell wide open on the left face-off circle who fired his shot into the back of the net off the powerplay. Mitchell had scored three goals on the man-advantage in Lindenwood’s last game against Robert Morris, and added another to his total versus Iowa State.
Lindenwood would hold on to their 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission break, finishing off an impressive first period where the Lions outshot the Cyclones 24-10.
“We just stuck to our gameplan,” Heinzman said. “If we can do that, we can hands-down be one of the best teams in the league. We had to keep it simple, and throw pucks towards the net.”
Iowa State would grab their best chance of the opening 30 minutes with 13:56 left in the second period. Trevor Sabo somehow split through two Lions defenders, going on the break and pushing his wrist-shot just past the post. The Cyclones’ momentum left as quickly as it came, as Tony Uglem was sent to the penalty box.
On their second powerplay of the night, the Lions scored their second goal. After bouncing the puck back and forth, Ryan Finnegan found Mitchell in front of the Cyclones’ goal, and the lethal winger made no mistake netting his second goal of the game and Lindenwood’s third. Aapo Nurminen got his second assist of the game on the goal.
Just like the first two teams the Lions have played this season, the Cyclones were struggling to find a way past Lindenwood’s defense, and Seedott particularly. Seedott’s second period of dominance was highlighted by a right-padded save with 3:24 left before the end of the period. Lindenwood would hold onto their 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.
“I stayed focused the whole time,” Seedott said. “Watch the puck, be active with the puck. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my defense too, they blocked a lot of shots for me and they always keep guys out wide or keep giving them uncontested shots on the walls so that’s been helping me a lot too.”
Four minutes into the third period, a five minute major was assessed to Lindenwood’s Caleb Ernst for boarding, giving the Cyclones an excellent opportunity to get on the scoresheet. It took Iowa State 20 seconds to strike, as Aaron Azevedo was left wide-open at the back post and made it a 3-1 game.
The penalties kept on coming for the Lions, as Nurminen was called for slashing with 14:31 left in the period, giving the Cyclones a 5-on-3. Lindenwood would kill off Iowa State’s two-man advantage, thanks to three Seedott saves. The hosts would hold strong for the remainder of their penalty kill, conceding just one goal on Ernst’s major.
“I kept battling throughout the two minutes to get through the 5-on-3,” Seedott said. “I did whatever I could, and the team helped out a lot, getting guys out of shot lanes and they made a few huge blocks.”
In need of a goal to regain the momentum, Lindenwood was gifted a breakaway chance with Victor Lombardi, who slotted his wrister into the bottom right corner. Murphy and Matt Runyon tallied the assists on the goal, and the Lions were roaring again, leading 4-1 with 8:01 left in the game.
There was no slowing down in the Lions attack despite the comfortable lead, scoring their fifth goal of the evening on a Zach Martin backhander that left Goedeke on his back. Heinzman got his second assist while Jake Townsend gathered his first.
Lindenwood saw out the rest of the game, taking down Iowa State by a final score of 5-1. It was the Cyclones’ first loss of the season, while the Lions improved to 5-0 on the year. It was a statement victory for Lindenwood against a quality Iowa State team, but they know there are certain areas where they need to improve in order to reach their full potential.
“We need to be smart going into those games,” Heinzman said. “At the end, we got guys kicked out, taking penalties, going down on a 5-on-3. We have to start putting pressure on ourselves and just keep level-headed and stay out of that stuff. It’s hard, but you’ve got to do it in order to be one of the best teams in the league.”
The Lions will look to remain undefeated on Sunday, as they take on the Cyclones for game two of the series.