By Kim Wrona
10/9/13—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies finally were able to play on home ice at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva this past weekend for the first time this season; they welcomed an extremely tough opponent in Robert Morris University White into the building for games on Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s home opener started off well for the Huskies as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the 6 minute mark of the first period. Sophomore forward Nick Renville tallied his first goal of the season at 1:37 of the game; sophomore forward Brandon Bangert assisted on the goal. While on a 5-on-3 power play at 5:26, junior forward and team captain JC Weems got on the board with a backhanded shot to increase the Huskies’ lead; junior forward Matt Tiberi assisted on the tally.
“It’s always good to score on the power play, but I’d like to see us set it up more,” Weems said. “The goal was more of a quick play. I got lucky on the draw and the puck never left the zone. We need to work on our power play entry, which is something we’ve been trying to work on in practice. We have to make better decisions, especially on the pp.”
Unfortunately for NIU, they weren’t able to keep the lead. RMU scored twice on senior goaltender Alex Craig in the latter half of the period to tie the game before the first intermission. During the next two periods, RMU scored 12 more goals, including 10 in the second period, to make the final 14-2. Overall, Craig made 39 saves on 49 shots in 40 minutes of work; freshman goaltender JoJo Durrbeck came in for the third period and stopped 22 of the 26 shots fired at him.
“We were flying for a while, but after the first period it all came to an end. We just couldn’t finish it off,” sophomore goaltender Kyle Maher said.
“Penalties killed us once again,” Weems said. “[Staying disciplined is] the biggest thing we need to work on.”
“RMU is a very good team, probably the best we're going to play all season, and once they started clicking they were able to put goals in the net,” head coach John Lyne said. “A combination of bad penalties for us and a great power play for them enabled them to score time and time again. They also had a deep bench which hurt us since we have a small team and they were able to wear us down as the game went on.”
Saturday’s contest didn’t fare much better for the Huskies. RMU took the game 13-1; Weems scored the lone goal for the home team and senior forward Brian Staffeldt registered the only helper on the marker.
“In the first period, we were hanging in there. We were playing our game plan the way we wanted and then we started taking penalties,” Weems said.
“We need to take advantage of the opportunities that they’re giving us and we’re blowing those chances,” Maher said, who got his first start of the season on Saturday; he stopped 37 of the 44 shots that were fired on him through 2 periods. Junior netminder Jessica Stubitsch played in the 3rd period and made 25 saves on 31 shots.
Despite dropping to 0-6-0 on the season now, the young Huskies are eager to turn the ship around in their upcoming games against Purdue University at Fox Valley on Friday, October 18th at 8:30 pm and on Saturday, October 19th at 8:40 pm.
“We have a lot of strong willed rookies on our team that are willing to get this team back to where we’re supposed to be,” Maher said.
The break in between game weekends is going to be a big help for the Huskies so they can re-group and re-focus on the tasks at hand.
“I think it helps that we have a lot more time to work on our team systems; that’s somewhere where we need a lot more help, especially the defensive zone systems,” Maher said. “Now we have 4 practices instead of 2 to figure out how to work against Purdue.”
“I’m excited to play Purdue,” Weems said. “They’re a team we’re going to be able to skate with. From everything I hear, this team’s chippy so we have to keep our heads. Hopefully we can get the offense rolling and get everyone healthy.”
“We have had some sickness going through the team, so hopefully we can get healthy and be ready to go in two weeks,” Lyne said.
Before Purdue though, supporting the D2 squad during this weekend’s Pink in the Rink games at Fox Valley is on tap.
“It will be great for our team to be able to come out this weekend and be a part of the great event the program is putting on for breast cancer and a chance to watch the D2 team play,” Lyne said. “I am excited for this weekend and hope we can pack the house with fans to support this great cause!”