After going 189 minutes without scoring a goal, the Sooners would find the back of the net again and again in their weekend sweep of visiting Illinois. The weekend would mark the first time in six meeting that the Sooners would win over the Illini. The series also marked the Illini’s first visit to Oklahoma City.
Friday nights match was gearing towards being a score fest before OU finally buckled down and took control of the game, eventually taking the 6-3 win. Tender Nick Holmes would earn his first Sooner win, stopping 20 of 23 Illinois shots. OU would score their first goal on a 5 on 3 shorthanded chance by Nic Power.
The celebration of their first goal in nearly three games came to a quick end 35 seconds later when Illinois’ Austin Bostock got one past Holmes, who is recently back on skates after nursing an injury.
Nic Power would score again in the second period, giving the Sooners a comfortable lead that Illinois would eventually tie up with goals from Matt Welch and Joe Sullivan. The game would remain a tough battle but eventually the Illini would wear down, having limited players suited during the visit making for more ice time. Kevin Zehnder, Justin Giles, and Blake Martin would go on in the third to take the lead and win for the Sooners. Illinois’ netminder Nick Clarke would stop 27 shots in the loss, the Illini going 2 for 9 of power play chances.
The two would play again on Saturday afternoon, Illinois looking well rested and ready. Once the puck dropped, the story would change however, the Illini only being able to put 15 shots on the Sooners Nick Holmes. Holmes would earn his first Sooner shut out by way of a 5-0 score.
OU would take quick control of the game, going up 3-0 in the first period with goals from Chad Hudson, Jesse Bryant and Jon Schanke. At the start of the second period, Shane Vorndran would score just 33 seconds in, pretty much sealing Illinois’ fate, despite six power play chances for the Illini alone.
The third period would be all Sooners defense, allowing Illinois not one shot on goal. Illinois would get some breath of relief from goalie Nick Clarke, who would face the most shots in the game, stopping 11 of 12 third period shots. Troy Puente would get one past halfway through the period, but Clarke would end the game stopping 24 Sooners’ shots.
Illinois now stands at 10-10-1 after a four game losing streak. They will hope to turn their fortune around this weekend when they host the Iowa State Cyclones.
The Sooners go 19-9-1 and will host Arizona State for two early games on Saturday and Sunday.