by Kim Wrona
1/29/14—DeKalb, IL The D3 Huskies were at Fox Valley Ice Arena for their last set of home games for the 2013-14 season on January 24th and 25th as they hosted Loyola University.
Friday’s contest saw the Huskies get on the board first as junior forward Kyle Cornier tallied his 12th goal of the season before the two minute mark of the first period. The lead lasted for less than a minute as Loyola tied it up at one.
Freshman goaltender JoJo Durrbeck made several saves during the rest of the period to keep NIU in the game, but Loyola was able to score with 3:46 left in the opening frame to put the visitors up 2-1 going into the second period.
Cornier tallied his second goal of the game at the 5:14 mark of the second period to tie the game at two. Just over a minute later, freshman forward Jeremy Bilecki scored his 14th tally of the season with a backhanded shot that went far side to give NIU the 3-2 lead.
“Loyola has a very strong team and we knew that going into the weekend,” Durrbeck said. “Unfortunately, our first period didn’t show that we were ready to play because it was very sloppy all around. We caught some breaks and we were fortunate to come away only down by one. We completely changed it around for the second period and we were able to grab the lead and not give up a goal in the second frame.”
Loyola was able to tie the game early in the third period, but paired with some key saves from Durrbeck and a good penalty kill, the Huskies were able to stay in contention and get the game into overtime.
1:17 into the extra frame was all the Huskies needed to secure a 4-3 win as junior forward Jon Pounds was able to score his fourth goal of the season with a good shot from the right circle area; the victory was the Huskies’ fifth in a row.
“The third was the most even period,” Durrbeck, who made 52 saves in the win said. “Loyola got a goal early to tie it up, but other than that, it was back and forth with both teams bringing the offense as well as good defense to keep it tied. As the game went into overtime, personally, I was ready especially because playing in the OT game against Purdue helped me be more prepared this time around. It was back and forth again but we only needed one chance for Pounds to put it in for a huge win. It was a huge win to keep the winning streak alive and show that we can beat a strong ranked team in Loyola.”
“We started out really slow in the first, but we came out flying and working hard [for the second period],” freshman defenseman Damon Lubkeman said. “We stuck to the systems and it worked well. We just never gave up.”
“I thought Friday was a big game for us,” sophomore forward Nick Renville said. “We were on a winning streak, but we knew that Loyola was going to be the best team that we’ve played in a while. I think it took us a period to get adjusted to the speed of the game but JoJo was able to keep us in it and we fed off his big saves and were able to step up and win in overtime.”
Saturday’s contest didn’t go as well for the Huskies as they dropped the game 7-0. Senior goaltender Alex Craig started in goal for the Huskies on senior night. Loyola scored five times in the first on 14 shots. Durrbeck took over between the pipes in the second period and made 27 saves on 29 shots.
“We once again started slow and [it] just put us in a hole,” Lubkeman said. “We could never dig ourselves out of it, even with JoJo playing really well.”
“Saturday didn’t go as smoothly,” Renville said, “but we can still use Friday’s game as a huge confidence booster knowing that if we play our game we can compete with anyone.”
The Huskies take on Robert Morris University Springfield this weekend at Franklin Nelson Recreation Center in Springfield. Friday and Saturday’s contests are both slated to begin at 8 pm.