By Kim Wrona
10/14/14 – DeKalb, IL | The DIII Huskies made the long road trip down to East Alton, IL Friday and Saturday to take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Their brooms made the trip as well; the Huskies swept SIUE with 2 dominant victories.
Friday night’s contest saw the Huskies start the weekend with a bang: they defeated SIUE by a score of 12-1.
“Friday, we played together well,” sophomore defenseman Damon Lubkeman, who scored the game winning goal, said. “We started out with 4 goals in the first 3 minutes, which really got the team going. It really put a statement on that game. We really capitalized on the opportunities that were given to us. … It was really good to see all of us produce offense. It was good to see the whole team bond together and put up points.”
The Huskies received their offense from all across the line-up. Senior forward Brian Staffeldt, senior defenseman Gregg Jacobson and freshman forward Matthew Gould all scored twice while senior forward and team captain Jc Weems, sophomore forwards Jeremy Bilecki, Brian Kostecka and Ryan Saunders and freshman forward Trevor Bondarowicz also put pucks in the back of the net.
“Overall on Friday, we came out ready to play, which is always nice after a long bus ride, to get your legs back under you,” Weems said. “I felt we had a real good warm-up and it definitely carried over into the first 5 minutes of the game. … We kind of sent a message out that we weren’t really there to mess around. We were coming to definitely play some serious hockey.”
“It was great,” sophomore goaltender JoJo Durrbeck said. “We played our game like we did against Robert Morris on Friday and against Missouri. We played well, and we just pretty much capitalized on every chance they gave us and every defensive breakdown they had. … That’s what really came about with that 7-0 first period lead. We pretty much just dominated the entire period. We knew we wanted to get out to a fast start, but you can’t really plan for a 7-0 first period lead, but it didn’t hurt to have it, obviously.”
“It was nice seeing all 4 lines produce and the fact that we kept away from the other team’s dirty play and we let them walk right into the box,” freshman defenseman Eddie Belliveau said.
“Friday’s game went well,” head coach Nick Madonia said. “I think we scored on 6 of our first 8 shots; it’s a great way to start the game. I was able to roll through all 4 lines all weekend, but especially on Friday. I was actually able to shut down the first line on Friday. I was able to rest Weems, Staffeldt and [freshman forward Tyler] Hilton, and actually [senior forward Kyle] Cornier as well, just because they’re a little banged up, give them a little bit of rest, because they’ll be eating some minutes coming up in the next few weeks with our schedule.”
The offense wasn’t the only bright spot for the team on Friday.
“I think it really came down to goaltending though,” Weems said. “It started on the defensive end, which is nice to see. We played strong defensively all night in front of JoJo, which is what you have to do against a team like that and don’t let any fluke goals in or even let them get a thought of coming back. We definitely set the tone.”
“JoJo played a hell of a game,” Madonia said. “He took the shutout late [into the game] and it was just a bad goal. I think it bounced twice before it went in. He’ll get one, one day.”
The Huskies also put up large numbers offensively during Saturday’s contest. Bilecki, Hilton and Staffeldt all tallied twice while junior forward Brandon Bangert, sophomore defenseman Erik Demmin and Kostecka got on the board as well to give the Huskies a 9-4 win.
“Saturday we went with a younger line-up [with] some guys who hadn’t seen as much game time,” Madonia said. “But it was nice to get them a little bit more into a game where I didn’t have to worry too much about who they were going out there against. I was able to, once again, roll 4 lines. … I kept all 4 of them going so they could get some work in. Games like that, they’re kind of tough, because it’s hard to keep the focus. But we were able to do some things with some lines, work on our cycle, work on our breakouts and coverage, so we got some stuff worked on, which was nice.”
“We came out pretty strong again,” Weems said. “We definitely showed them that we weren’t there to mess around again. We took the wind out of their sails early, but after you demolish a team the first night, the second night after you’re up by a little bit, it’s bad on us that we started letting up a little bit defensively, just looking forward to going home before the game was over. That started about the third period. We can’t be doing that. Obviously, we’re trying not to let any bad habits form, but it happens. It’s hard to maintain focus when on the road and up by so much.”
“I think the biggest difference on Saturday was their team buckled down a little bit better defensively and their goalie played a lot better,” Belliveau said. “I think if we didn’t have JoJo in net, it would have been a much different outcome because he stood on his head. I think they had the same amount of shots as we did. He had a great game.”
“We were a little more slow,” Lubkeman said about Saturday’s game. “But we did score, I think, the first 6 or 7 goals. The last 2 goals were 2 fluke goals at the end, so the score didn’t look as close. So, it was good that we didn’t absolutely crap the bed on Saturday like we did against RMU. We still put forth our best effort and were able to get the win in any way that we possibly could.”
“We wanted to come out again with a big push at the start and I think we did so,” Durrbeck said. “They played the [same] goalie they did in the first game, so he had a little time to get used to it in the first game and then the second game, he looked a little more comfortable. I think they just really fixed a lot of their mistakes. They knew they wanted to get a push right back against us. I think they brought more of an offensive game plan and a more offensive push than they did in the first game. I think somebody was saying that it was their first weekend, so obviously the second game would have been easier for them [with] getting all the nerves out and everything.”
The Huskies’ next set of games are on Friday and Sunday this weekend. They’re on the road again as they take on Northwestern University.
“I’m really excited to play Northwestern,” Weems said. “It’ll be nice to play a little bit of more competition than RMU Black or SIUE. We have to go out and we have to come right at them. We have to go out and punch them in the mouth, get pressure on the puck first, show them how fast we are, and get our offense going.”
“We just got to bring the same plan that we did against SIUE, but we just got to know that they’re a way better team than them,” Durrbeck said. “Obviously, we played Robert Morris and SIUE and they’re not really the top teams that we’ll play. We got to get right back at it against Northwestern.”
“To get 2 wins against Northwestern, we really need to be sound offensively and defensively,” Lubkeman said. “There’s a lot of times that we get caught in our zone against a bad team like that, but we cannot do that against Northwestern. This team is going to capitalize on the turnovers and the chances that they get and we need to do our job to minimize those in order to be effective against them.”
“[We have to] play at the blue lines, got to get the puck deep,” Belliveau said. “We got to play simple hockey, we can’t try and overdo it.”
“I think this week in practice we really just have to put it in our minds that it’s going to be another tough team and 2 big games and 2 big battle games that we really have to bring our A-game each and every shift, each and every second of the game,” Durrbeck said. “We really have to watch our mistakes and keep them at a minimum.”
“The Sunday game is going to be weird,” Madonia said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever done a Friday-Sunday [set of games], but it’s just another challenge. I like to think we’re a mentally tough team. We don’t get sucked into stupid stuff. So I think we’ll be able to keep our focus for a Sunday game. Northwestern is just going to be a different challenge. We’ve proved ourselves that we can play with teams like Missouri State, we’ve proved ourselves that we can beat teams that we’re supposed to beat. We know nothing about Northwestern. We haven’t seen them play. They’ve played a bunch of teams that I don’t know, so they could be anywhere from Missouri State to one of the weak teams that we’ve played. It’ll be fun to watch, fun to play.”
Friday’s contest is slated to begin at 8:20 p.m. and Sunday’s game is slated for 2:30 p.m.; both contests will be held at Centennial Ice Arena.