Ducks split I-5 Cup opener, series resumes at home

From Annie Yilmaz, Daily Emerald

After a 4-3 loss and a 6-3 win in their first games of 2014 on Friday and Saturday, the Oregon club hockey team will return to Eugene for the final two games of the heated University of Washington series. The series between the two rival teams is one of the most important of the regular season since the winning team takes home both the I-5 Cup and bragging rights until the two meet again next season.

The road opener followed suit of previous years with big hits, big saves and tensions running high. Both teams appeared evenly matched in a very back-and-forth game. However in the final two minutes of play, Washington ultimately proved themselves victorious after breaking the 3-3 tie and scoring the game-winning, 5-on-3 power-play goal while Tyler Halverson, Connor McBride and Dan Sulitzer sat in the Oregon penalty box.

The next night, the Ducks returned to the OlympicView Arena ready for a win, something they hadn’t had since their final two games of 2013 against USC in late November.

Oregon got what they were looking for. After going into the third period tied, Oregon pulled ahead and logged two goals plus an additional empty netter.

After Washington scored the only goal of the 1st, Patrick Sgarlata put Oregon on the board and tied the game 1-1 only 3:08 into the 2nd period.

Seven minutes later it was followed by a Huskies power-play goal from Ryan Minkoff, who is the league leader in points, goals and assists. The Washington lead was immediately brought back down to zero when Oregon retaliated and Dan Sulitzer jammed the puck between the post and Washington goalie Jacob Gilmore’s pads.

The period ended and, just like the game the night before, the 3rd began tied at 2-2.

The night seemed apt to repeat the previous one when forward Corey James once again broke the 2-2 tie in favor of Washington, but Connor McBride scored for Oregon and brought the game back to an even 3-3.

Then, unlike the previous night, the Ducks pulled ahead in the third.

With under six minutes to go, Chris Stankeivicz put the puck in the back of the net with a slapshot and gave the Ducks the lead they had been searching for all game. A few minutes later, brothers Dan and Alex Sulitzer tore their way to Gilmore’s net. Dan slid the puck behind him to Alex, setting up the goal which would give the Ducks their two-point lead.

When Washington pulled their goalie to give themselves a two-man advantage after Oregon forward Trevor McCarty entered the box, Oregon put the final nail in the coffin. Alex Sulitzer scored an empty netter with only 10.3 seconds remaining on the game clock and the game soon ended 6-3.

Follow Anne Yilmaz on Twitter @anneyilmaz

Oregon is happy to offer live broadcasts of this weekend’s games.Oregon travels to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies this weekend for the first two contests of the annual 4-game series.  The Ducks hope to retain the coveted I-5 Cup as they battle their conference rivals.

CLICK HERE for this weekend’s live broadcasts.

Oregon (9-8, 5-5) vs. Washington (13-9, 7-7)

The I-5 Cup continues this weekend at Lane County Ice. Game times are Friday, Jan. 24th at 7 pm and Saturday, Jan. 25th at 7 pm.

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Questions? Email coordinator Pat Sgarlata at coordinator@oregonduckshockey.com.