By Kim Wrona
11/14/13—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies welcomed Northwestern University into Fox Valley Ice Arena this past weekend for a two game set against the Wildcats. The results from both games weren’t what the Huskies were looking for: an 8-3 loss on Friday night and a 6-2 loss on Saturday night.
Friday’s penalty-laden game saw the Wildcats hop out to a 2 goal lead in the first period and then a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd. Junior forward and team captain Jc Weems got the Huskies on the board with a goal with 14:28 left in the middle stanza to cut the lead to 3-1 with his 10th goal of the season.
The Huskies entered the 3rd period down 5-1, but they got a shorthanded goal from junior forward Kyle Cornier around the 2:30 mark of the period to make it 5-2.Northwestern added 3 more goals during the third, but Weems tacked on his second tally of the night with 1:14 remaining to make the final score 8-3.
The Huskies were penalized a lot in this contest and even were handed two DQs: junior defenseman Gregg Jacobson received a DQ for spearing late in the second period and junior defenseman Matt Swastek received a DQ for illegal head contact late in the third.
“We started to get frustrated,” coach Nick Madonia said. “We had to kill off a lot of penalties, including 2 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey at one point, which is the 2nd time we’ve dealt with 3-on-3 hockey this season.”
“The DQs were disappointing,” Weems said. “We definitely can’t be doing that; we can’t even give them a reason to call DQs. We got to try to stay disciplined. Some nights it’s tougher than others. I thought we did a real good job of hanging in there; we kept skating hard and we didn’t back down.”
Despite having those two players suspended for Saturday’s game, the Huskies got tallies from Weems and freshman Erik Demmin and they remained competitive throughout the whole contest.
“Saturday we did well just putting that past us and we weren’t looking for excuses with the refs, which was real important for us,” Madonia said. “We competed all game. We had sustained pressure for the last two minutes of the game. … In a 60 minute game, we only had 8 bad minutes with 11 guys.”
“I thought we all came out ready to play,” Weems said. “We knew everything was against us and we weren’t going to let that be a reason to mess us up. We played really well in the 1st period and the 2nd as well, but in the 3rd you could tell it was their bench size [that made the difference].”
“To be honest, you could take a nap on the bench because there was so much room,” freshman forward Jeremy Bilecki said. “The biggest thing Saturday was we didn’t get down on each other. We were so exhausted and we had no energy left. We were focused, but after a while you got so tired that it was hard to think to make the right passes.”
The Huskies’ goaltending was a bright spot for them this weekend.
“The goaltending was not our problem,” coach Pat Giannini said. “They faced quite a few shots. They easily probably saw 50-60 shots on Friday and Saturday. It was the defense and some mental lapses and us getting stupid penalties basically. [The goalies] were making the 1st and 2nd saves, but the 3rd and 4th shots were going in; that’s on the defense and backcheckers.”
“JoJo started Friday. He was playing lights out, as usual,” Madonia said about freshman goaltender JoJo Durrbeck. “With 12-13 minutes left, he started to cramp up real bad, so I pulled him.”
That opened the door for junior goaltender Jessica Stubitsch to take the net.
“Jess has played 2 periods cold this season and has played amazing,” he said.
On Saturday, sophomore goaltender Kyle Maher got the start and made 42 saves on 48 shots.
“Maher had a great game. He’s always one of the hardest working guys on the ice for the 2 years I’ve known him,” Madonia said.
“Kyle played outstanding,” Bilecki said. “JoJo did good as well; he kept us in it. We had a big game out of Maher. He stepped up to the plate. He made some pretty ridiculous saves, too.”
“Maher played out of his mind,” Weems said. “That’s what we needed. He kept us in the game. I felt like we did a real good job in the first and second of clearing pucks from the front of the net; in the third they got 3rd and 4th shots and that’s where we got in trouble.”
Just like the D2 Huskies, the D3 team will be participating in the Robert Morris University Showcase this weekend. On Friday, the Huskies will take on RMU Black at 4:40 pm. The Huskies face off against RMU Springfield at 8 pm on Saturday. Sunday’s contests features the Huskies and Indiana University and that game begins at noon. All three games for the D3 Huskies will take place at the Edge on John Street in Bensenville.
“It’s going to be a long weekend,” Bilecki said. “We cannot afford to have any DQs. We need to stay out of the box, although our penalty kill was pretty good. [Penalties] kill our momentum. Our power play has to start producing and the penalty kill needs to stay strong.”
“The bench is definitely going to catch up to us at some point, it’s just a matter of when,” Weems said. “All three games are very winnable. If we show up and play well, we’ll be fine. It’s going be fun for Jess because she gets to play her brother [on RMU Black on Friday night].”
“Indiana should be our toughest game,” he said. “They split with Purdue, like us. … If we come in with the right attitude, I can see us realistically going 3-0 this weekend. We just need to have fun; we play a lot better when we’re doing that.”
“Our mindset going into this weekend would be that we got to play smarter than we did this weekend,” Giannini said. “We got to move the puck better. We got to have more people this weekend, closer to our full team; that was a big problem last weekend. … We can’t take penalties because we don’t have the depth to have a PK line or anything like that. We got to take advantage of our power plays. Last couple games we got a couple and we weren’t able to get it out of our zone and get it in their zone and take shots. We didn’t have a lot of scoring opportunities so we got to be working on our power play to make it a little more efficient.”
“If we show up with our heads in the right place, we put ourselves instantly in a better chance,” Weems said. “As long as we come prepared and come ready, I think we’re in for a real good weekend of hockey.”