The Wheaton Thunder have released their schedule for the upcoming season. Wheaton will start out the season with games against some new faces in WashU and Augustana. They will also face old rivals in NIU and Robert Morris University. The Thunder will only have two home games in the 2016 portion of the schedule, both coming against Lewis, but the second half of the season will consist of five home games in six total match ups, where they will face Northern Illinois, Western, and Robert Morris during that stretch. February 4th, the final regular season game, is expected to be Senior Night, and every Friday home game will be followed with a free fan skate. Wheaton will be led by captain Brant Goodrich, as well as assistant captains Spencer Graf and Davis Melin, and are looking to earn a playoff push this season after being eliminated from contention in the final weekend of last year’s regular season action.
Wheaton and SIU-E played a very close game that was hard fought on both sides, but the Cougars ultimately came away with a 2-0 victory, putting a bitter note on the Thunder’s senior night and final game of the season. Both goalies had stellar performances: Wheaton goalie Ted Townsend had 33 saves on 35 shots against, and Cougar Goalie Chandler Johnsen had 22 saves to secure the shut out. During the first intermission, Wheaton had a ceremony to honor the seven members of the team that will graduate and move on to the professional world. Danny Puknaitis, Jack Nussbaum, Anders Erikson, Austin Alianiello, David Clark, alternate captains Phil Rodriguez, Matt Bowman, and captain Isaac Melin were important members to the Wheaton College hockey team this year as well as years past, and will be sorely missed as the Thunder go into next season.
The Thunder dropped the first of two home games against SIU-E by a final score of 3-1. Wheaton started out a little sluggish, but got their feet under them about halfway through the first period, and were fortunate to head into the locker room down only 1-0, thanks to a solid period from Goalie Ted Townsend. The Wheaton offense ramped it up after the first period, generating 15 shots in the second and 19 in the third, but a solid performance by the Cougars’ goaltender, Ryan Bruce, was able to hold the Thunder to a lone goal, which came with less than two minutes to play. The power play, which had been a strength for Wheaton over the last few games, was flat tonight, and Bruce’s performance shut down the power play tonight, as the Thunder went 0-7 with the man advantage. With tonight’s loss Wheaton is effectively eliminated from the playoffs, but will look to finish the season out strong with their last game of the season tomorrow night, again skating against the Cougars. The game will be at Center Ice of DuPage, and puck drop will take place at 9:20 PM, with a ceremony to honor all of the graduating students on this year’s roster. Come cheer the Wheaton College hockey team on one more time, and help send the seniors out on a high note.
Wheaton plays two home games against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville this weekend. The first takes place tonight at 8:40, with a free fan skate to follow. The second will take place tomorrow evening at 9:20, with a ceremony to honor the graduating seniors to occur as well. Both games are at the Center Ice of DuPage. Wheaton and SIU-E are tied in points on the season, with SIU-E holding the tiebreaker for the final playoff spot in the conference. The Thunder will look to have a weekend sweep to cap off the regular season in strong fashion, and take possession of the final playoff spot in the closing pair of games.