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NAU D-II team finishes first half strong, confident moving ahead

 

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Northern Arizona University’s Division II team saw its 14-game winning streak come to end at the end of the semester, but the IceJacks are confident about the second half of the season.

NAU dropped a pair of games in Las Vegas 6-5 and 4-2 to UNLV to end the streak. The Ice Jacks’ losses to the Skatin’ Rebels were also their first to teams in their division. While they started the year 1-3, those three losses were to Division I Arizona and two of those games were in Tucson.

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NAU was without top-line forwards Reise Keiffer and Lucas Lomax at UNLV.

“It’s gone really good,” said NAU Division II coach Travis Johanson about the first semester. “We had some injuries there to finish up the first half. Going to Vegas, we lost two thirds of our top line (Keiffer and Lomax), so we need to use this break to get healed up and get ready to hit the second half at full speed.”

During that streak, the IceJacks went 4-0 on their trip to Utah, getting wins over ranked Utah State, Colorado, Boise State and Weber State.

“It’s huge to go 4-0 up there in Utah – that’s a really big deal for us,” Johanson said. “Moved us up in the standing and to beat those teams, to beat Utah State, which is always a good team, at home and Weber, at home, that’s nothing but confidence and it was a great team building, bonding road trip for us. It showed really how tight of a team we have.”

Johanson isn’t worried the winter break – six weeks between games – will hurt the IceJacks’ momentum.

“Everybody’s going through the same thing,” said Johanson. “I think the break’s going to be good for us, get some guys rested up.”

Stats wise, all but one NAU D-II skater had recorded at least one point during the first half, while Max Mahood led the scoring charge with 22 goals among 40 points. Jaxson Gosnell registered six wins in goal, along with an assist during one game.

— James Kelley