By Kim Wrona
12/18/15 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies traveled to Bensenville on December 11 and 12 to take on Robert Morris University-Maroon for the final two games of the fall semester of the 2015-16 season.
Friday’s game didn’t start off very well for the Huskies as they found themselves down 2-0 to the Eagles with over seven minutes left in the opening frame.
Senior defenseman Ron Coletta was able to lead the charge for an NIU comeback as he tallied a power play goal to cut the Huskies’ deficit to one. Senior forward and team captain Justin Rucinski was able to tie the game up at two with 3:20 left in the first stanza with his 18th goal of the season.
The Huskies took their first lead of the game early in the second period as sophomore forward Matthew Gould tallied his second goal of the season. Unfortunately for NIU, the Eagles tied the game up at three only two minutes later.
The teams went into the third period still knotted up at three. Most of the third stanza remained that way until there were three minutes left. RMU tallied to take a 4-3 lead and that was how the final score stood.
Junior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck made 31 saves on 35 shots in the contest. The Eagles outshot the Huskies by a margin of 35-22.
“We went into Friday knowing these were going to be some big games again,” Durrbeck said. “So we wanted to use our momentum from the DePaul games for this weekend. We didn’t quite play the way we wanted to, but we stayed in the game and went into the third with a tie. But we made one mistake and they scored on it and that was the game. Overall, there were some positives and negatives to take from the game into Saturday, but certainly we wanted to play more of our game.”
“We came out slow on Friday and let them gain momentum and confidence,” head coach Chuck Rinaldo said. “We did a good job at battling back but RMU was the harder working team and took advantage of their opportunity in the third period.”
The Huskies started the game better on Saturday. In the first period, the visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Eagles. Senior forward Nick Leon scored his 21st goal of the season early in the first and freshman forward David Madrigal tallied a power play goal later for his sixth marker of the year.
That was all the offense that the Huskies could muster during the tilt. RMU scored two goals in the second period to tie the game up at two and then scored the go-ahead goal in the third period to take the victory by a score of 3-2.
Sophomore goaltender Jake Leon made 22 saves on 25 shots on goal. The Eagles outshot the Huskies by a margin of 25-21.
“They got under our skin and we played their game instead of ours,” junior defenseman Bryan Peterson said.
“We played a better overall game on Saturday but couldn’t keep the momentum throughout the entire game,” Rinaldo said. “We made some costly mistakes in the third period that allowed RMU to take advantage and gain the lead. It was a tough loss.”
The Huskies finished the 2015 portion of the 2015-16 season with a record of 8-13-1-1-0. The next time the Huskies take the ice, they will be hosting Northern Michigan University.
“I think the outlook is good for the second semester,” Rinaldo said. “Everyone should be healthy and we should be ready to put together a winning streak. We have yet to play our best hockey and I’m confident that will happen second semester.”
The Huskies and Northern Michigan will take the ice at 7:30 p.m. on January 8 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee. They will also face-off at 1 p.m. on January 9 in an outdoor game at MB Financial Park in Rosemont.