In the wee hours of Saturday morning as the final horn sounded, the University of Cincinnati hockey team sent their crosstown rivals home with a sour taste in their mouths for the second time this season.
After defeating Xavier University 7-0 in September, the Musketeers had their chance for revenge — or, at the very least, an opportunity to piece together a more competitive game.
In a match that started Friday night and rolled into Saturday due to the 11 p.m. start time, the Bearcats made quick work of the Musketeers, defeating them 5-1 and earning a season sweep of their rival.
As great as defeating its bitter rival feels, this team is looking for far more than one victory, sophomore winger Ryan Murphy said.
“It feels good, but now we are on to the next one,” Murphy said. “We are worried about Wright State and Dayton now, and then hopefully on to regionals.”
While they avoided overindulging in the savory taste of victory, freshman defenseman Logan Rossiter admitted that the margin of victory did make the two wins a little sweeter.
“There is extra satisfaction in dominating the way we did,” Rossiter said. “It shows that we have a strong team and great leadership across the board. Everyone is contributing to the same goal and the results reflect that.”
The Xavier win offered UC a unique opportunity for a bounce-back game, as they had just come off one of their four losses this season against No. 2 Florida Gulf Coast University.
With the win, the Bearcats keep their streak alive of not losing back-to-back games all season.
“The key is to not panic, and remember what you have been doing that has been making your team successful,” senior goalie Sebastien Malette said. “There’s a reason we’ve won 25 out of the past 29 games, so there’s no need to doubt yourself. It all boils down to remaining confident in your ability as an athlete and as a team.”
The Bearcats followed up their sweep with a victory Saturday over Bowling Green State University, giving them their 27th win of the year. Their victory ties a program record for most wins per season.
With two games remaining before the postseason, the team aims to break the record that they set last year.
“It would mean everything to re-break the record we set last year for wins in a season,” senior captain Damien Lona said. “More than anything, we are all hyper-focused on making a deep postseason run.”
With the playoffs quickly approaching and the 27-4 Bearcats poised to play on through the regular season, the team has plans to advance further than they ever have before.
Junior center Danny Mateja is confident they have the roster to make a deep run.
“It is something UC hasn’t accomplished before,” Mateja said. “We have the top-three players in the league with three first lines to back them up, along with the hardest-working fourth line. Our defense is fearless, and our goalies hate getting scored on. Like we’ve been saying all year, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Cincinnati faces off against Wright State University on Friday, Feb. 9 in Dayton before heading a few miles down the road to face the University of Dayton in their regular season finale Saturday, Feb. 10.