After the University at Buffalo Wings defeated the Lindenwood Lions, 7-2, at the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association’s championships, other teams at the event got a lift, realizing that the Lions, often considered invincible, seemed to be showing some vulnerability.
“We got lucky by it being only 7-2,” Lindenwood Coach Ron Beilsten said after the game. Referencing the penalty trouble that his team got into during the game, Beilsten added, “You can’t play those guys in the penalty box, that’s for sure.”
Handed another potential excuse by a helpful reporter who pointed out that Lindenwood had several shots hit the post, Beilsten deflected it deftly, praising Buffalo’s ability to snipe: “They hit a lot of posts,” Beilsten said, “and every once in a while, they hit our goalie, too.”
Buffalo led just 2-1 after the first period, but broke the game wide open in the second period, scoring three goals to take a 5-1 lead into the third period. The Wings increased their lead to 7-1 before Lindenwood tallied late in the game to salvage a little bit of pride.
Beilsten didn’t sugarcoat his team’s dismal effort.
“Things were so bad in that game for us,” Beilsten said. “They played great, but we did play bad. We feel that we’ve got to be better from here on out. Every facet of the game – our decision-making, our battles for loose pucks, our shot selection; everything we usually do a pretty good job with – was off, a lot.”
Tyler Walser and Alex Durinka teamed up to become lion-killers for Buffalo, with Walser scoring a hat trick and adding two assists, while Durinka scored two markers and had three assists.
According to Buffalo Coach Eric Werner, the Wings’ were confident that they could skate with Lindenwood, and that it was just a matter of proper execution to get the win.
“Ty Walser came up big, and [Alex] Christie, our goalie, is a great goalie,” Werner said. “When he plays like that, we’re going to win.”
Alex Dodt of Arizona State, a dark-horse team with big dreams of knocking off teams like Lindenwood, said that he felt the tournament was “wide open” in terms of the number of teams that could compete for the tournaments Division I championship. In addition to the University of Missouri – St. Louis, who defeated Lindenwood in last year’s championship final, Dodt listed Michigan State University, Buffalo… and Arizona State as teams that could emerge as champions this year.
“Buffalo won today, and Michigan State University almost beat Lindenwood this year [in the regular season]. All four teams can win it. I’ve never seen it like that before. We haven’t played those teams, but I like our chances.”
Playing in another bracket, Arizona State won its first two games of the tournament, polishing off Rhode Island, 10-1, and then outlasting North Texas, 6-4. If they keep winning, and the Lions bounce back, they’ll likely meet in a later round.
Despite the lopsided score, the Lions didn’t dwell on the loss to Buffalo for long.
“We didn’t spend too much time talking about it,” Beilsten said. “We just addressed it at the end of the game and turned the page. We feel that we’re going to be better from here on out. We have to be better from here on out.”
If past history is any indication, they will be.
-Written by Richard Graham
inlinehockeycentral.com and ncrha.org