The Cyclones were looking to break through on the offensive end while keeping the goaltending by Nikita Kozak as solid as he's been recently. If they could do that and keep their guys out of the penalty box, they would be in prime position to have a good series against the 14th ranked Fighting Illini.
The Cyclones came into the weekend 7-6-1 to start the season, and Illinois, ranked three spots above them in the rankings, came in at an impressive 7-3-2. Over the course of the weekend, there were lots of penalties, and no team was able to dominate both nights, with the Cyclones winning 3-0 on Friday and Illinois bouncing back to win 2-0 the next night.
Friday night saw seven penalties in total (Cyclones with three and Illinois with four), and Saturday sent six men to the box (just two for the Cyclones this time). That's 13 total penalties, and eight power plays that the Cyclones surely would've liked to take advantage of more.
Overall, this was a very aggressive series, and in the first game the pinnacle was matching roughing minors at the very beginning of the third period. To their credit, the Cyclones weee able to kill off all of their penalties on Friday night, and that was a big reason why they were so dominant.
Saturday night saw the Fighting Illini being the much more physically assertive team, playing with a chip on their shoulder after being shutout the night before. Iowa State was never able to match the physical intensity, and even with the Cyclones getting another four power plays, they failed to take advantage, and were shutout.
Goaltending solid but offense lacked consistency
Kozak would certainly be in consideration for team MVP after his performance last weekend, giving up just two goals in regulation and stopping an abundance of chances. Friday was more of the same for Kozak, stopping all 35 shots that reached him. The senior has had a couple of bad games so far this year, but has had more good than bad overall.
The offense didn't come through for Kozak last weekend, but certainly did on Friday. An unorthodox goal got the Cyclones on the board almost exactly halfway through the game, and that's all the team would need. They added on late in the third, including an empty netter that sealed the deal. Saturday was a different story. The Cyclones were aggressive pretty consistently, but never were able to find twine.
The Cyclones travel to Minot, North Dakota next weekend for a weekend set with Minot State, the team that ended the Cyclones season last year.