The Thunder season came to an end on Friday afternoon, following a 4-0 defeat in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of Lewis University.
The first period ended scoreless, but Lewis put in two goals in both the second and third periods while shutting out Wheaton. Lewis University will play Northern Illinois University tomorrow afternoon for the MACHA division three championship.
Wheaton, on the other hand, will look towards the future, and hope to build on the success they found over this past season. With four wins, the Thunder notched the most victories they’ve earned since the 2013-2014 season. Much of the core of this year’s team will be returning next year to top this past season’s accomplishments.
The Thunder would not have been able to accomplish as much as they had this past season had it not been for this year’s graduating class. The team would like to wish Spencer Healey, Julian Erb, Zach Naylor, Braden Weber, Joey Mormino, Alternate Captain Spencer Graf, and Captain Brant Goodrich for all of their sacrifices for the team this season and throughout their time playing for the Thunder.
Finally, Wheaton Hockey would like to thank our fans for all of their enthusiasm and support this season, and look forward to another exciting year of Thunder Hockey in the fall semester.
The Thunder are traveling down to the Owens Ice Arena in Peoria, IL in search of their first playoff win in several years. Wheaton enters into the playoffs with momentum, winning three games in a row, before Lewis defeated the Thunder in the final regular season game of the year. They split a pair of home games against Lewis last weekend, winning Friday night’s contest 5-4 in overtime before losing 6-3 the next night. Wheaton and Lewis will square off again in game one of the playoffs, with puck drop coming at 11:30 on Friday morning. The winner of that matchup will face the winner of the afternoon game featuring Western Illinois and Northern Illinois for the title. The championship game will take place Saturday afternoon at 1:30, also at the Owens Arena.
The streak gets cut off at three games, as Wheaton falls to Lewis university by a score of 6-3.
The Flyers jumped off to a quick start, taking a 1-0 lead three and a half minutes into the game. The Thunder would tie the game with 1:46 left in the period off of a finish by Luke Grogger on a tic-tac-toe passing play.
Things fell of the rails in the second period, for the Thunder, however, as Lewis would score four goals in the period, shutting out Wheaton on the other end of the ice.
Blake Eitreim and Brant Goodrich would both tally goals for the home team in the third frame, but the comeback attempt would fall short, and an early goal in the period for the Flyers would round off the final score at 6-3.
With this loss, Wheaton’s hopes to jump up to the third seed for the playoffs were dashed. The Thunder will be in action next week in Peoria for game one of the playoffs.
Wheaton won their third game in a row in dramatic fashion. They beat the visiting Lewis in a 5-4 thriller that took an additional two minutes and 41 seconds of overtime.
The Thunder had to overcome three different deficits during the game, coming back from 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3 Lewis leads. Blake Eitreim led the Thunder offensively yet again on Friday night, scoring twice in the second period to tie the game at three. He added an assist to his points total in the overtime period. Freshman Nathan Davis showed his flair for the dramatic with a breakaway goal that knotted the score at four just under seven minutes into the third period.
The real hero of the night, however, was graduate student, Spencer Healey. Luke Grogger started off the overtime with a strong shift, blocking a pair of shots and drawing a penalty. The penalty gave Wheaton momentum, which they used to capitalize on less than 30 seconds after the penalty expired. Blake Eitreim made a pass from the corner into the front of the net, which Healey buried into a wide open net to give Wheaton its third win in as many games.
Wheaton will next be in action tomorrow night, Saturday the fourth, at 10:10 pm at Center Ice of DuPage. They will take on Lewis again, hoping to move up in the seeding with another win. In addition, they will look to end the regular season on a high note for the seniors, who they will honor during tomorrow night’s senior night game.