By Kim Wrona
2/25/14—DeKalb, IL The D2 Huskies traveled down to Webster Groves, MO on Friday, February 14 for the MACHA playoffs. The Huskies were slated to take on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars in the first round.
The Huskies were down 5-0 at one point in the contest to SIUE. Despite the large deficit, the Huskies were able to battle back and score six goals in the game.
“Overall it was a very exciting game when all was said and done,” said head coach Chuck Rinaldo. “However we got off to a very slow start and ended up paying a big price for that. The guys did a great job at working through our struggles and getting themselves back in the game. SIUE is a good team and giving them a 5-0 cushion is tough to overcome, especially in the playoffs.”
The Huskies’ six goals were scored by senior forwards Rob Bock and Nick Leon (x2), junior forward Justin Rucinski (x2) and sophomore forward Brandyn Maher.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, the six goals were not enough to defeat SIUE. The Cougars were able to take the victory 8-6 and knock NIU out of the playoffs.
Even though the Huskies exited early in the postseason, the way the team battled back from trailing 5-0 in the game was positive.
“It was very encouraging to see the guys fight back from being down 5-0,” Rinaldo said. “The fact that they never gave up and just stuck to the game plan and worked hard says a lot about the character of this team. It's too bad that we came up a little short but it definitely showed what the guys were capable of and helped them realize that if we keep up that intensity and hard-working mentality from the start of the game there are very few teams out there that would be able to handle us.”
Overall on the 2013-14 season, the D2 Huskies went 15-18-0-2-1.
“There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the season but I think the guys learned a lot and they all improved as individuals and as a team,” Rinaldo said when asked about the year. “We had one of the toughest schedules in the entire ACHA this year and when you are playing so many big games throughout the season it's very hard to be able to gain some steady momentum. However, we wouldn't have wanted it any different. You have to play the best in order to be the best and we proved this year that we are definitely capable of beating some of the best teams out there. We have a very bright future and I hope to see big things from our guys next season.”