By Kim Wrona
9/18/17 – DeKalb, IL | The D3 Huskies started the 2017-18 season on the road with two contests in Brookfield, WI against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on September 16 and 17. The Huskies picked up their first victory of the season during Sunday’s contest.
Saturday’s game featured a lot of offense from UWM as the home squad picked up a 7-0 victory over the Huskies. Sophomore goaltender Carl Lindgren made 40 saves on 47 shots in the contest. UWM outshot NIU by a 47-31 margin. UWM went 2-7 on the power play while the Huskies went 0-8 on the man advantage.
“The first game we seemed slow and tired,” senior forward Trevor Bondarowicz said. “For some of the freshmen, they had first game jitters and the seniors [were playing in] their last first game of their competitive hockey career. Even though we had a short bench compared to Milwaukee, we never gave up even when we were down.”
The Huskies jumped out to a quick start during Sunday afternoon’s tilt. Freshman forward Kevin Vettese tallied his first goal in a Huskies sweater at the 6:41 mark of the first period. UWM scored two goals to take a 2-1 lead, but junior forward Tom Knetl netted a power play marker to tie the game up at two before the end of the first period.
Bondarowicz and Vettese scored back-to-back power play goals early in the middle frame to give NIU a 4-2 lead. UWM cut NIU’s lead to one at 8:58 of the second period, but Knetl restored the Huskies’ two goal lead with a shorthanded goal towards the end of the sandwich stanza.
UWM answered back with three consecutive goals before the halfway mark of the third period to give the home team a 6-5 lead.
But the Huskies battled back in a big way.
Sophomore defenseman Eric Odolski scored a power play goal with 54 seconds remaining to tie the game up at six and to send it into overtime. The game went into a shootout where Knetl and sophomore defenseman Matthew Nge scored to give the Huskies a 7-6 victory over UWM.
Freshman goaltender Ethan Koncor made 66 saves on 72 shots in the contest. UWM outshot NIU by a 72-41 margin. UWM went 3-10 on the power play while the Huskies went 4-11 on the man advantage.
“Our team played well and made good plays,” Bondarowicz said. “Our goalie made some big saves for us to stay close. We continued to fight even when we were down in the final minute and [we] tied the game in the final minute. We fought hard in OT and pushed things into a shootout where we came out on top. It was nice to get the first win out of the way, especially on the road.”
The Huskies will continue their season opening road trip as they travel downstate to take on McKendree University this weekend. The Huskies and the Bearcats will face-off at 5 p.m. on September 22 and at 2 p.m. on September 23 at McKendree Metro Rec Plex in O’Fallon, IL.