By Kim Wrona
10/1/13—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies didn’t fare as well as their D2 counterparts this weekend. In two games against Marquette University in Brookfield, Wisconsin, the Huskies fell 10-0 to the Golden Eagles on Friday night and 11-2 on Saturday afternoon.
“Marquette was a very good team with most of their players returning from a team that won our division and went on to regionals last season,” head coach John Lyne said. “[For] our young team, going into that hostile environment with a full crowd of loud fans was mentally tough for us to handle and they took advantage of it right from the start.”
The young group of Huskies has used this road trip, as well as the season opening road trip to Missouri State, to help them bond and get familiar with their surroundings.
“Comfort was the biggest thing,” freshman defenseman Damon Lubkeman said. “We were able to adjust to the college game.”
“Opening up with the D2 team [in Missouri State] helped, too, because we got to see how they approach road games,” freshman goaltender JoJo Durrbeck said.
The adjustment period to college hockey is an on-going process; once the majority of the team gets settled in, things should start turning around. The team knows what they have to do to be successful; it’s just a matter of making it happen.
“We need to crash the net,” freshman forward Jeremy Bilecki said in regards to generating more offense. “Four of Weems’ five goals [this season] were on rebounds.” Junior forward JC Weems is the team’s leading goal scorer, who tallied NIU’s first goal on Saturday; Bilecki scored the other.
“In general, we just need to get more pucks on net,” Durrbeck said. “We enter the zone sometimes and look for the pass instead of taking shots.”
Working on rebound control in the defensive zone is something that needs to improve for the Huskies.
“We gave up too many quality scoring chances and were not able to take care of rebounds in the defensive zone like we did last week and that hurt us time and time again,” Lyne said.
It’s also a matter of getting pucks out of the zone in general.
“We need to get the puck out of the zone as soon as it’s free; chip it off the glass and get it out,” Bilecki said.
Special teams are always key in hockey, and the power play is an area that could use some improvement to help the Huskies out in the future.
“Our power play was also able to get set up a bit in the offensive zone, however our decision making was slow and a fast team like Marquette was able to stop us because of it,” Lyne said. “Players being comfortable making quick, smart decisions with the puck, as well as players making good decisions and finding open ice away from the puck, need to improve going forward.”
The focus turns to the future and the Huskies’ upcoming home opener at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva on Friday night at 8:30pm against Robert Morris University White; they also take on RMU White on Saturday at 5:30pm at home.
“This weekend is going to be another huge challenge for us,” Lyne said. “RMU White has improved even more in the offseason and will probably be as good, if not better than, the two teams we have played already. Our team needs to take this weekend to continue to improve in all aspects of the game against another good team.”
“If we come out like we did in the second game at Missouri State, we’ll be good,” Lubkeman said.
“It's unfortunate that our schedule this season is stacked early with most of the best teams we'll play this year but it will help us to learn quickly and play better the rest of the season to pick up wins the rest of the season,” Lyne said.