by Kim Wrona
1/16/14—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies were back on the ice after a three week break against Augustana College on January 10th and 11th. The roster looked a little different than normal for the Huskies as they were able to add a few more players to the roster to bolster their line-up.
Friday night’s tilt was a back-and-forth affair for the first two periods. Augustana got out to an early 1-0 lead before sophomore forward Brandon Bangert tied the game at the 12:47 mark of the opening period. The Huskies took the lead at 12:48 of the second period with a tally from sophomore forward Nick Renville. Augustana knotted up the game at two less than two minutes later, which was how the score stood at the end of the period.
The home squad took the lead early in the third period, but then freshman defenseman Damon Lubkeman drew a charging penalty and the Huskies took advantage. They scored three power play goals on the five minute major—courtesy of Renville, Bangert and junior forward Matt Tiberi—and were able to take the victory 5-3.
“It was a great comeback,” Lubkeman said. “It was awesome that we scored 3 goals in 2 minutes to win the game; that felt great. It was also great to see the new guys come out and play well.”
“It was an even game,” freshman forward Jeremy Bilecki said. “We were slow to come out. You could tell we had a month off. We got better as the game went on. When Damon drew a penalty, that gave us the energy to go and play well.”
The Huskies got good goaltending from junior netminder Jessica Stubitsch, who made 25 saves in the win.
“There were three or four high quality chances that she made the second and third save on,” said assistant coach Pat Giannini.
“It was nice to mix and match what lines you put out there,” head coach Nick Madonia said about the team’s first game with added depth. “No one was dead [tired] at the end of period or at the end of the game.”
The Huskies only trailed once in Saturday night’s contest, and that was only for about four minutes in the first period. Junior forward Kyle Cornier tied the game up for NIU with his eighth goal of the season. Starting at 14:30, the Huskies scored three goals in just under two minutes; junior forward and team captain Jc Weems, Cornier and Renville lit the lamp for NIU.
While Augustana added a goal before the end of the first, Weems and Bilecki tacked on two more goals for NIU early in the second period to make it 6-2. Augustana closed the gap to two before Weems added his third tally of the evening for the hat trick at 15:07. Augustana continued to battle back and made it 7-5 by the end of the sandwich stanza.
The goal scoring continued for both teams, but Bilecki scored twice—giving him a hat trick as well—and Weems added his fourth goal of the game in the third period to give the Huskies a 10-6 win and their first sweep of the 2013-14 season.
“It was a little bit sloppy,” Giannini said. “We got our breaks though and we rose to the occasion. It was kind of back-and-forth at the end of the game.”
“There was no flow to the game, but we found a way to keep putting [pucks] in,” Madonia said. “We got some good breaks. We pulled away late, which was nice to see. We have to work on playing with the lead. We kind of fell asleep a little.”
“When Petey [freshman defenseman Bryan Peterson] got kicked out [DQ’d for head contact in the first], we buckled down and we really had to grind because we lost one of our better defensemen,” Bilecki said. “It was a back-and-forth battle. We finally just pulled away towards the end.”
“No matter how hard they came back, we came back twice as hard,” Lubkeman said.
“It was nice to see that we could put up ten goals in a game,” said sophomore goaltender Kyle Maher, who made 42 saves in the victory. “It’s a great way to start off the semester. We’re looking forward to playing and winning some more.”
“[The sweep] was huge, especially for second semester,” Madonia said. “We were preaching on Wednesday [at practice] that it’s a new season now. We have a new group of guys and it’s a fresh start. Getting started on the right foot helps because we’re going into next weekend with confidence.”
This weekend, the Huskies are closer to home as they travel to Bensenville to take on Robert Morris University Black at the Edge on Friday and Saturday.
“We need to build off of this weekend and come out hard against RBU Black. We need to get offensive pressure and pucks at the net. The biggest thing is the penalty kill. I was comfortable with only using the guys that were used to it [against Augustana], so it’ll be nice to have some extra bodies that are able to play in all situations.”
Friday’s game is slated to start at 9 pm and Saturday’s tilt has a puck drop of 8:30 pm.