Division II Ice Jacks return from Colorado road trip winning two of thre
By Matt Esaena
The Division II NAU Ice Jacks traveled to Colorado this past weekend to play the University of Denver Pioneers (UD) for two games and to take on the No. 2-ranked Colorado State University Rams (CSU) for a game. The Jacks had a successful trip, sweeping UD by scores of 6–2 in both games and playing the second-ranked team to a close game in a 4–3 loss.
Oct. 13, the Jacks played in the road trip’s finale against UD in Magness Arena. Junior goalie James Korte got his first regular season start in-between the pipes for NAU and started off the right way with a win. Korte had good rebound control and seemed to feel comfortable in net for the Jacks despite not having played in a game in over three weeks.
The Ice Jacks controlled the rhythm for most of the game as junior forward Adam Surber opened the scoring with his first tally of the season, but the back-breaker for UD came when sophomore forward Zach Fader scored a short-handed 5-on-3 goal. NAU finished the road trip on a good note with a 6–2 victory.
“This was defiantly a positive for our team,” said head coach Travis Johanson. “We normally do not come out of Colorado above .500, and we should have won all three games, but our slow-start first periods continue to hinder us.”
Oct. 12’s contest was the real test, with NAU taking on the CSU Rams. NAU has never been unable to defeat the Rams since becoming a D-II club. Senior goaltender Quinn Mason was called upon to start the big game for the Jacks and although he did not play as well as he did against ASU two weeks ago, he stood tall and gave his team a chance to take down one of the conferences top contenders.
CSU topped NAU 4–3, and the Jacks were down 4–2 heading into the final period. Senior Taylor Dustin scored a goal to cut the deficit to one, but the Jacks would come no closer as they had to swallow a close loss.
“I thought the team did pretty well,” Mason said. “We defiantly could have beaten CSU. I feel like I did not play that well in that, and I want to play them again for a second chance.”
The loss was not the only bad news for the Ice Jacks in Oct. 12’s game. Freshman Dedrick Wiese exited the game early due to a shoulder injury. The medical report stated Wiese separated his shoulder and will have to stay off the ice for at least three to four weeks.
After a long bus ride, the Jacks opened the Colorado road swing with 6–2 victory. Mason started in net and recorded 33 saves. NAU was out scored in the third period by the Pioneers 2–1, but thanks to a four-goal second period, the Jacks were able to skate off the ice with the win.
Junior forward Greg Park led the way offensively for NAU by breaking out of an early season slump with two goals, an assist, and five shots on net.
“It felt good to get things going,” Park said.
The Ice Jacks will practice this week before traveling to Las Vegas to take on the UNLV Rebels. NAU is now 4–1 on the regular season and will look to add to an almost perfect record this weekend in Sin City.
“We need to take what we did this weekend and sweep UNLV next week,” Park said.