By Kim Wrona
10/8/12—DeKalb, IL The D2 Huskies traveled to Bensenville on Friday and Saturday to take on Robert Morris University Maroon at The Edge Ice Arena.
NIU started the weekend on the right foot as they took Friday’s tilt 6-3, but the Huskies dropped Saturday’s game 2-1 in overtime.
The Huskies’ special teams were outstanding all weekend, but really shined on Friday night. The power play chipped in with two goals and the penalty kill scored three shorthanded goals; the Huskies also scored a power play goal on Saturday night.
“It's definitely good to see the special teams doing so well right now and if we can keep that going it will be a big key to our success,” head coach Chuck Rinaldo said. “We just can't lose focus on our play during even strength. I think the success of the special teams got our emotions running a little too high this weekend and we had a few lapses during our 5-on-5 play. If we can keep everything consistent throughout the entire game, we will be a tough team to beat.”
The Huskies were led offensively on Friday by junior center Justin Rucinski. He tallied a hat trick composed of a power play goal and two shorthanded goals.
Senior forwards Mark Greenberg (shorthanded), Nick Remley (even strength) and Nick Leon (power play) also all scored on Friday night. Senior defenseman Troy Hickey also chipped in on the scoresheet with two assists.
Junior goaltender Alex Hare made 39 saves on Friday night in the Huskies’ victory and he continued his stellar play on Saturday night as he stopped 31 shots out of the 33 that were fired at him.
“We are very happy with what Hare has done for us so far,” Rinaldo said. “The key to any team’s success is goaltending and when we have a guy like Hare to back us up it really helps our confidence and gives us the opportunity to press a little more offensively.”
The Huskies’ lone goal on Saturday came off of the stick of Rucinski while on the power play with 14:56 remaining in the first period. The Huskies held the lead until the 2:15 mark of the third period when RMU tied it. The game then went into overtime where the Huskies never fired a shot on net; RMU’s 3rd shot of the extra frame—courtesy of sophomore forward Jordan DeYoung—found a way into the back of the net giving RMU the win.
“I can't say we are satisfied with a split against RMU but I do think they were a tough team to play,” Rinaldo said. “We had our chances to win on Saturday and just didn't find the back of the net. I think it was a good weekend to learn what we need to work on. We now understand that we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal at all times and keep working as hard as we can in order to get the win. All it takes is one mental or physical lapse and the game could be lost. That's what happened to us on Saturday.”
The Huskies are now 4-1-1 (9 points) and look forward to taking on the University of Illinois at home at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva on Friday and Saturday. But this isn’t just an ordinary weekend set of games. It’s Pink in the Rink for the Huskies as they support the Susan G. Komen Foundation to support finding a cure for breast cancer.
“This weekend is huge for many reasons. First of all it will be a fun event with some big crowds coming out to support the Pink in the Rink fundraiser,” Rinaldo said. “It will be a fun atmosphere for our guys to play in and hopefully a bit intimidating for our opponent.”
The games against U of I are also MACHA Conference games, which means that it’s a huge weekend in terms of the standings as well.
“Earning two victories against U of I is extremely important for us because these games count toward the MACHA standings; also, the first Regional Rankings will be coming out in a couple of weeks,” Rinaldo said. “The first rankings are probably the most important ranking of the year. If we can earn a solid ranking to start the season it will put us in a good position to earn a regional bid as long as we stay consistent the entire season. “
The Huskies’ game on Friday starts at 7:00pm and the game on Saturday is slated to begin at 5:30pm.