By Kim Wrona
10/25/13—DeKalb, IL The Huskies traveled down to Florida to take on Florida Gulf Coast University last weekend, but the Sunshine State wasn’t so sunny for NIU. In two contests against FGCU, the Huskies lost 9-1 on Friday night and 8-1 on Saturday night.
“First of all, Florida Gulf Coast is an excellent team with a lot of talent and I wouldn't be surprised if we see them in the National tournament this season,” head coach Chuck Rinaldo said. “We definitely had our work cut out for us and we were out matched by their depth. However we did not help our cause during both games.”
The Huskies started both games well, but weren’t able to maintain the momentum throughout the contests.
“We played them tight in the first period on both nights and had a chance to take over the momentum early in the second period,” Rinaldo said. “Unfortunately we lost our focus and took some bad penalties and started running around too much. As soon as that happened FGCU took over the game and capitalized on their power play opportunities and our costly turnovers. Although it would have been a stretch to beat a team like FGCU they definitely weren't 8 goals better than us. We basically shot ourselves in the foot in the second period of both games and were never able to recover after that.”
In Friday’s game, junior goaltender Alex Hare got the start in net for the Huskies and senior forward Mark Greenberg scored the lone goal; senior forward Nick Leon tallied the lone assist on the marker.
Saturday’s game featured senior netminder Nick Bonin in net for the Huskies. It was his first game and start since he was injured on September 28th against Mizzou when his hand was cut badly by a skate. The Huskies lone tally came in the third period when junior forward Brian Pounds scored his first goal on the 2013-14 campaign.
While the results from this past weekend weren’t what the Huskies were looking for, a positive to take away was the way they played in the first period.
“One big positive that came out of the weekend was that we were able to get off to a good start and play solid in the first period of both games,” Rinaldo said. “This has been where we struggled for most of the season and to be able to come out and battle with a tough team like FGCU on the road was good to see. We just need to make sure we keep up that tempo for an entire 3 periods from this point on.”
Something the Huskies need to do better in the future to be successful is making sure they cash in on their scoring chances.
“One other improvement we need to see from our squad is that we still need to find ways to bury the puck,” Rinaldo said. “Our schedule doesn't get any easier and if we aren't capitalizing on our opportunities we will have a tough time winning some of these big games that are coming up on our schedule.”
Improving that aspect of their game will have to start this weekend when the Huskies travel down to Kankakee to take on Eastern Illinois University on Friday and Saturday at 6 pm.
“Eastern is a sneaky team,” Rinaldo said. “They played us tough last year and managed to steal a win from us in our home rink. They will be even more confident this year when we travel to them to play the weekend series.”
Eastern is not a team to take lightly.
“They graduated a few of their key goal scorers from last season, but they have a solid batch of new freshmen doing the job now,” Rinaldo said. “They have a goalie that can win big games for them if he gets hot at the right time. We need to be sure we jump on them quickly and find ways to score a few quick goals to prevent any momentum from swinging their way.”