It was no surprise to anyone in the Pepsi Ice Center that the Redbirds came ready to play in their Senior Night weekend during their best season in school history. Everyone got in on the action as the ’Birds made goals look effortless, outscoring the Wisconsin Badgers 9-1 on Friday night and shutting them out on Saturday night, 6-0.
Speed on the ice has been a major contributing factor in the Redbirds’ success this season. This deep, fast paced team is able to wear out defenses and keep teams on their heels for three periods every night. Junior defenseman Jordan Leach explains how quickness played a key role in last weekends’ wins.
“Our ability to use our speed and spread their defense out definitely helped us to get a lot of odd man rushes that turned into scoring chances,” Leach said.
They capitalized on these chances early Friday night with a goal from Jeremy Gaddo just 32 seconds into the contest. Parker Johnson chipped in with a goal shortly after with an assist from Brian Reimel, who then scored on a power play to give the ’Birds a 3-0 lead at the end of the first.
The second period turned into an offensive clinic. By controlling the puck and getting plenty of shots on goal, ISU was able to put the puck to the net five times with goals by Vinny Carbone, Tim Talty, Gaddo and Johnson. Adam Vishny was able to score Wisconsin’s only goal of the weekend on a third period power play, but Johnson was able to cap off the night with an unassisted goal 30 seconds later, giving him his fourth of the night.
The seniors were anxious to get going again the next night. Jordan Swiderski scored their first goal in the first minute and a half of the game, the only point scored in the first period. Gaddo and Connor Anderson were able to give the Redbirds breathing room in the second period by putting them up 4-0. Wisconsin’s offensive struggles continued into the third where they remained scoreless, and goals by Paul Mascitti and Anderson were enough to seal the 6-0 shutout.
These dominating wins were a great feeling for the seniors who put dedication into making Redbird hockey the national championship contending team that it is today. It is also a time for players to celebrate with their family and recognize how far they have come over the years. Senior Kris Vandenberg remembers the feeling of being introduced with his mother.
“Skating across the ice and having my mom be out there was very special. She’s been there for everything when it came to hockey. We’ve been through a lot together on and off the ice, and I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done for me,” Vandenberg said.
The bond made with teammates over a four-year span of college sports is an undying one. Players spend countless hours together every season, often times creating a feeling of one big family.
“Hockey is a special kind of sport. You play with so many different people throughout your career, but still manage to remember everyone that you played with and you keep in touch with all of them,” Vandenberg said.
As the game against Wisconsin marked the last one to be played at the Pepsi Ice Center this season, it is clear that this season is one the Redbirds will never forget.