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Series Preview: LIU vs Omaha Nebraska, Coach’s Corner, Islanders Prospects

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LIU Sharks, New York Islanders

It’s finally here. The Long Island University Men’s Hockey Team, the LIU Sharks, are set to have their home opener this weekend against Omaha-Nebraska on Friday (7:45 PM) and Saturday (7 PM) at Northwell Ice Center in East Meadow, NY.

The LIU Sharks are fresh off a six-game road trip to begin their 2022-23 season and are looking to snap a three-game losing streak.

“I think just general awareness of knowing when their top guys are on the ice will be a big thing for whoever we match up against those guys, but having a game plan and then we really just gotta get back to ourselves. That’s what made us successful against Northeastern and Quinnipiac. But we just got to get back to our identity where we were blocking shots and finishing hits. I thought we lost some of that last weekend, we lost that hard to play against chip on shoulder mentality and I thought they got the better half in terms of the will, want, desperation, and physical play for the first time so we need to find that again,” Head Coach Brett Riley said in this week’s Coaches Corner.

The power play has been an issue lately for the Sharks going 2 for 26 on the season so far.  “The Power Play has been struggling, but I think we need to get back to, like, the basics of our power play, just shooting pucks getting pucks on net, just moving the puck simply. I feel like we’re trying to do way too much, and I’m in that as well, and I just gotta get back to shooting the pucks on net. Just getting them through traffic because, at the end of the day, if you want to score on the powerplay, you got to get the pucks to the net, and we got to create momentum. And I mean, we got to figure it out because powerplay can win us or lose us in games, and it’ll be huge for this upcoming weekend,” LIU defensemen Spencer Cox shared.

However, the penalty kill for the Sharks has been good, going five for 28.

Entering last weekend, Long Island had one of the top-scoring defenses in the country, ranking at number seven. Despite being swept by Michigan State, the defense core culture is strong.

“I think it’s strong. I feel like our D core has improved a lot. We’ve gotten really close, and I think that helps a lot. I think it’s just us playing simple and not trying to do too much. We’ll jump up in the play if it’s given to us, and I think it’s the style we play: blocking shots and being physical. I think it goes a long way, and I think that carries on to our penalty kill and how good our penalty kill has been as well,” Cox said.

The Team also dropped a new jersey ahead of their home opener against Omaha-Nebraska this weekend.

In the reveal video, Captain Jack Quinn, Alternate captains Anthony Vincent, Adam Goodsir, Jordan Di Cicco, and defensemen Austin Rook are seen repping the jersey.

“Yeah, they’re really nice. It’s cool to have a new set,” Spencer Cox said.

The jersey provided by Under Armour is a white-out concept with the classic shark’s logo in the center with the LIU alternate logo on the shoulder of the jersey.

“I think it’s pretty exciting,” LIU netminder Vinnie Purpura shared with NYI Hockey Now.

OMAHA OMAHA!

Omaha-Nebraska is coming off a series with Alaska Fairbanks that made national headlines. On Sunday, a full-line brawl occurred during the game.

Omaha’s Brock Bremer and Kaden Bohlsen were given match disqualification penalties. Both junior forwards will be sitting out game one of the LIU series as a match disqualification penalty requires you to sit out the next game.

You can tell that Omaha is itching to move on based off of their press conference before heading here to Long Island.

 

Jack Randl Sweeping the Nation

The main threat the Mavericks has is senior forward Jack Randl who leads the nation in goals (8) and goals per game (1.33). The Illinois native has scored over 50% of Omaha’s goals this season.

“We’ll keep an eye on him,” Riley said. One person who is familiar, however, with Jack Randl is LIU goaltender Vinnie Purpura who played with Randl in the USHL on the Omaha Lancers.

“He’s a really good hockey player who plays a 200-foot game. So it doesn’t surprise me that he’s leading the nation in scoring. I think it’s a great opportunity to play against top guys, so I think we’ve been doing that pretty much every weekend. I think a home game this weekend against a top team like Omaha, it’s pretty exciting,” Purpura said.

Despite having the nation’s leading goal scorer, the Mavericks have a whopping 12 new players this season, 10 of who are freshmen. LIU will look to take full advantage of that this weekend with the strong culture they have built.

Islanders Prospects in Action

Yes, you read that right. Omaha-Nebraska has two New York Islanders prospects with sophomore forward Cameron Berg (2021 4th round pick) and Graduate forward Jake Pivonka (2018 4th round pick). They’ll both be active for this weekend’s matchup against LIU.

Coach’s Corner: ‘We Beat Ourselves for the First Time This Year’

Q: Takeaways from the MSU series?

“More positives than negatives… I think we went in there and played really hard, the execution was still not all the way there, but on night one, it was anyone’s game. We beat ourselves for the first time this year with errors face, off goals against and poor pinch, and terrible back check. Then night two, the start obviously was not what we’d hoped for it was kind of the first time the walls came crumbling in on us but to battle back, we made it five-three, and then six, four after being down five-one is super positive and encouraging. I think we had four calls against which it is what it is, but there are a lot of positives. We obviously have to clean some things up. But again, to battle back the schedule is going to make us a lot better long term, you know, for year three to go into a big 10 rank and give them all they can handle again, no moral victories, but we have to look at this thing in terms of progress, and there’s a lot of that.”

Q: Second game, you said that was the first time the walls came crumbling in on your team. What would you say this team learned from that experience?

“That we need to be ready to go all the time, we’re not sneaking up on anyone I think we’ve earned the respect of teams we’ve played, and it’s not, you know, maybe in years past where they can play an OK game and should win with ease they know it’s a tough test. I take some accountability. I don’t think I had the team ready to play the second night, and that’s on me. It was good for us to be down like that, one of our goals is to be better the second half of the year than the first, and these BIG 10, NCHC games are going to do that if we don’t get too high or too low after each weekend resolved.”

Q: The power play has been struggling. What adjustments are you trying to make before this weekend against Omaha?

“Rebuilding confidence…. I thought it [the powerplay] was good to start the year, and it’s taken a dip whether that’s we’ve gone up against really good PKS or goaltenders, they have been good. That’s not an excuse. We have to be better be good, but we are getting possession time in the zone. We are getting shots, we are getting opportunities. So the next step is goals and results. So we just have to see the positives, but we need more urgency, we need more intensity, and we need more shot volume again. So we’re looking at that pretty closely, and we’ll make the necessary changes.”

Q: Home ice for the first time this season. Is this a big momentum booster for you guys?

“It’s exciting. I mean, I think in 54 program games, we’ve played eight home games, so it’s exciting. I don’t think there was a home game last year. Not to speak too soon that we were displeased with. We played really well on home ice, and it’s great for these guys to play six games in upstate New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Boston. It’s nice to be here, and you don’t have to worry about itineraries, travel, bus, or meals, and just focus on playing a really good team. In my opinion. This is probably the best team we played against last year. They’re fast, they’re heavy, and they’re well-coached. [Jack] Randal, I think, leads the nation in goals and has maybe 50% of their goals. So yeah, we’ll definitely keep an eye on him.”

Q: It feels like the defensive pressure on the boards will definitely be a factor this weekend, especially with Randal. How important are guys like Wallack and Cox going to be for this series against Omaha?

“Yeah, really important. I mean, they’re two guys that log 20-plus minutes a night as a freshman and sophomore. That’s super exciting, too. I think that we’ve got 10 plus underclassmen in our lineup for the first time, even though being a new program just with transfers and that nature. I think just general awareness of knowing when their top guys are on the ice will be a big thing for whoever we match up against those guys, but having a game plan and then we really just gotta get back to ourselves. That’s what made us successful against Northeastern and Quinnipiac. But we just got to get back to our identity where we were blocking shots and finishing hits. I thought we lost some of that last weekend, we lost that hard to play against chip on shoulder mentality, and I thought they got the better half in terms of the will, want, desperation, and physical play for the first time, so we need to find that again.”

 

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