September 29th, 2019
Cougars Storm to 6-1-1 in DII Play
By Luke Clevenger
“If someone is going to make something happen, it’s going to be him. Christian Perry makes things happen... You can feel something brewing.”
That was the live stream call right before Perry scored Saturday night with 14:25 remaining in the 3rd period. The play put the cougars within 1, and drew a penalty which the Cougars would convert into a tie game. The Cougars went on to win, completing the sweep over the McKendree Bearcats with a 3-2 victory and raising their DII record to 6-1-1.
The Cougars, grabbed two signature victories against the McKendree Bearcats DII squad. Both 3-2 victories over the in-conference rivals were decided with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period. “Big. You can put me on record for that one, too. It was a good weekend, especially the second game from the mental aspect of having to battle back after going down 2-0. It’s always good for a team to find a way to piece together a win when it’s not looking good in the third.” said coach Nick Edwards.
The season started with a loss to the Division 1 Maryville squad, but the season began in earnest with a pair of DII victories for the Cougars against the University of Louisville. After the Cougars dropped their first DII loss, a Friday night tilt against the Illinois State Redbirds, the Cougars stormed back to a 4-2 Victory in the follow up game. The Cougars would split their next series against Bradley university as well. After a victory on the friday night game, the Cougars lost in a shootout on Saturday’s Pink in the Rink game. The matchup featured superb performances by both goalies (Nosser for SIUE, and Schneider for Bradley) who faced a total of 130 shots and gave up three goals each before the shootout.
Among the players, Christian Perry’s offensive prowess has been hard to miss during the first portion of the season. The Sophomore forward averages an impressive 1.70 points per game to start the year, and has powered the cougar offense for several of the victories. Perry has scored in every DII game the cougars have played in, and has only failed to enter the score sheet twice this year, both against Division 1 opponents. In DII matches Perry is averaging a whopping 2.28 points per game, helped along by a 3 Goal, 2 Assist game against Louisville on the 14th of September.
The team Captain, Kain Henson, has been the team’s heart during the start to the season. Henson leads the team in assists with 12 while playing in the 1st defensive pairing, but his impact goes beyond the statistics. Henson shows exemplary play by diving into shots, sacrificing the body on a regular basis. His defensive positioning has been key as well, as he’s turned getting beat in the defensive zone into a rarity. In addition Henson stays out of the box and keeps his head on his shoulders during heated moments. Henson has just 6 minutes served in the box on the season, and all 6 have been penalties derived from competing rather than emotion.
Make no mistake though. The Cougars have looked to have solid depth all around the ice as their 4th line finds out ways to grind out good shifts. The Cougars showed their confidence on Saturday, when they put the 4th line out with 3:50 to go in 3rd, in what was a 1 Goal game. “As a whole we have a pretty even path all the way across. Everybody is battling and trying to earn their ice in a different way. We have guys with skill, others good defensively, and they all are battling. I think that Zurliene - Parres - Terrance [Puribhat] line are looking very good defensively for us and they work hard, too. They are focused in the d-zone, and they do the little things like backchecking hard, get the pucks in deep, cycling, and getting some speed out there. We have a lot of confidence and faith in them.”
The hot start is not enough for Nick Edwards or Taylor Emerick, however. Edwards, when asked about the start, said “I think it’s a good start. A lot of it is painting out at the beginning how the league is going to feel. Obviously a lot of things change in college as guys graduate and come in from schools. Right now, you aren’t mad about winning 6-1-1. We were just looking at our schedule coming up and I think we can probably get quite a few wins if we can keep the momentum up.”
The Cougars look to continue their hot start with a home and home against Lindenwood this weekend. The series kicks off Saturday at 6:45pm at the East Alton Ice Arena, and follows with a matchup on Sunday at 2:15pm at the Centene Community Ice Center.