By Kim Wrona
10/24/13—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies earned their first point of the season against Purdue University during the second game of their weekend set, which was a 4-3 loss in overtime on Saturday. Friday’s contest saw the Huskies fall 11-3.
These two games were the first since the Huskies’ coaching change which happened two weeks ago during D2’s Pink in the Rink weekend.
Assistant coaches Nick Madonia and Pat Giannini will now share the interim head coaching role for the rest of the season as they take over for John Lyne, who is now the team’s Central Region scout.
While the first period on Friday didn’t start off the way the Huskies wanted it to—Purdue opened up an 8-0 lead during the first twenty minutes—the Huskies started gaining momentum during the second period.
“The first period just killed us,” Giannini said. “After that, we got into their heads and set them straight and we started playing well.”
A main reason for the turnaround in the second was the systems the team was using.
“They bought in after the first period and started running what we were drawing up,” Madonia said.
As a result, the Huskies got on the board with a goal from senior forward Brian Staffeldt, who was set up by freshman forward Jeremy Bilecki and junior forward and team captain JC Weems. Purdue added two more goals before the period ended, but in the third, the Huskies countered with two of their own. Bilecki scored his second of the season while junior forward Kyle Cornier added his second of the year as well; Weems factored in with secondary assists on both tallies.
Senior goaltender Alex Craig played in the first period and made 8 saves on 16 shots; junior netminder Jessica Stubitsch came in for Craig for the rest of the game to start the second period and stopped 31 of the 34 shots fired at her.
Craig didn’t necessarily have a lot of help in front of him during Friday’s game.
“We need to get [Craig] in a game where we don’t start the first period slow,” Giannini said.
“Friday was a horrible start, but after the first period, we collected ourselves and came out strong in the second and third,” Bilecki said, who had a 5 point weekend.
The first period of Saturday night’s contest was a completely different story compared to Friday night’s opening frame. The Huskies scored the first goal of the game at 6:30 of the first with freshman defenseman Damon Lubkeman’s first collegiate goal.
“It was a better start and we got out to an early lead with a goal,” Bilecki said, “but after they scored we didn’t get down on ourselves and we didn’t yell at each other. We kept our heads up and came out in the second period flying. We didn’t take very many penalties which helped.”
The Huskies entered the second period tied up at one with Purdue, but grabbed the lead with 4:18 remaining with a power play goal from Staffeldt. Purdue battled back to tie it at the beginning of the third, but Staffeldt notched his second of the game with 13:36 remaining to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead. Purdue wouldn’t go down easy and knotted the game up at three with 5:53 left, which sent the game into overtime, where the Huskies eventually fell to the visitors.
Despite the overtime loss, the Huskies were pleased with being able to grab their first point of the season.
“Although we came out with the loss, it didn’t feel like it, because we played a 60 minute game,” Bilecki said.
“I didn’t see a person sitting on the bench during overtime,” Giannini said. “Everyone was standing and cheering.”
“Our bench was a lot more active overall,” Madonia said. “Whenever there was a big hit or big save, everyone was making noise. There’s definitely been an attitude change.”
“There was a lot of communication, a lot of talk on the ice, calling for pucks,” Giannini said. “Instead of individuals, we were working as a team finally. The team was listening to us, too.”
“The things that we said that needed to be fixed in the locker room got fixed on the ice,” Madonia said. “I think there was a lot more trust in linemates and trust in everyone on the team. They started moving the puck a lot better between linemates and it was a lot easier to get momentum going.”
The players echoed the thoughts of their coaches on what the difference was between the two nights.
“For us, it was communication, crisp passing and a positive attitude,” Lubkeman said.
“My line clicked,” Bilecki said. “I had five points, Weems had five, and Staffeldt had four.”
The Huskies’ goaltender on Saturday played a huge part in turning the team’s performance around as well. Freshman JoJo Durrbeck made 65 saves on 69 shots in the overtime loss.
“The big saves are what gave us the energy to keep driving with the short bench that we did have. We feed off of that,” Lubkeman said.
“He kept us in there and we fed off the momentum of his big saves and, with a short bench, he would freeze every puck he could, which was good in the long run. He was focused and didn’t let any of the goals get him down,” Bilecki said.
“JoJo has definitely stepped up as a rookie and we can trust him to have a solid game,” Madonia said.
Durrbeck credited his teammates for helping him in tough situations.
“I had a lot of times where I had brutal rebounds and the defensemen were there to clear them out,” he said. “I felt my first period had good rebound control, but towards the second I was kind of letting some rebounds get out, but the defense definitely helped out. The fast breakouts helped, too. We were able to get it out pretty quick.”
Now, the Huskies look forward to traveling down to Illinois State University this weekend for two games against the IceBirds and using the momentum they gained from the point and their play against Purdue to their advantage.
“I feel like it highlights the fact that we can compete with any team when we try,” Lubkeman said.
“We’re very confident for only getting one point out of the weekend. We look at that game and feel like we could’ve won that game,” Durrbeck said.
“We have good momentum as long as we keep it going and not come out flat footed. We have to come out the way we started Saturday’s game and finish it,” Bilecki said.
“We need a good week of practices and we can’t have a slow start again,” Madonia said.
“[The practices are] based around what we thought we were weak on in the game and factors that need improving,” Giannini said. “We played a good game, but there are definitely situations where we didn’t play to our best ability. But we need to continue communicating and we need to come out where we left off the last period against Purdue.”
The Huskies’ game on Friday, October 25 starts at 9:10 pm and Saturday’s puck drop is slated for 5:50 pm.