By Kim Wrona
1/10/17 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies kicked off the 2017 portion of the 2016-17 season with two games against DePaul University on January 6 and 7 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee. The visitors spoiled the New Year’s party for NIU as DePaul swept the weekend contests.
During the first period on Friday night, DePaul got out to a three goal lead over the Huskies. The visitors also struck 56 seconds into the second period to extend their lead to 4-0. The fourth goal ended senior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck’s night and junior goaltender Nick Bove relieved him for the rest of the game.
The Huskies got on the board at 2:21 of the middle frame as junior forward Mike Wojtkiewicz sent a blast into the back of the net from the right circle for his 12th goal of the season to cut the NIU deficit to three goals.
At 8:44, the Huskies closed to within two goals as junior forward Patrick Wrobel scored his sixth goal of the season from the slot.
Just over a minute later, DePaul scored to restore its three goal lead. Throughout the remainder of the contest, the visitors scored twice more to take a 7-2 victory over the Huskies.
DePaul outshot NIU by a 53-42 margin. The Huskies went 0-4 on the power play while DePaul went 1-6 on the man advantage.
DePaul took an early lead in Saturday’s contest as the visitors scored at the 8:50 mark of the opening frame.
At 2:54 of the middle frame, forward Brandon Niedziela scored his first goal of the season from out in front of the crease to tie the game up at one.
Just over two minutes later, DePaul regained the lead and wouldn’t look back afterwards. The visitors scored two more times in the second period to take a 4-1 lead and then twice in the third period to take a 6-1 victory over the Huskies and take the weekend sweep.
Bove made 42 saves on 48 shots in the contest. DePaul outshot NIU by a 48-22 margin. The Huskies went 0-4 on the power play while DePaul went 1-8 on the man advantage. The Huskies’ record is now 8-18-0-0-0.
“We didn’t play with a purpose and we were terrible at taking care of our own zone,” senior forward Cody Billeck said. “Lazy backchecking allowed a lot of odd-man breaks that led to goals. If we want to compete with McKendree, we need to tighten up in our defensive zone and have better awareness, win battles to the puck and make sure we are coming back to help our defensemen even if we have to keep a third man high or play the trap.”
The DII Huskies will take on McKendree University the next time NIU takes the ice. The two teams will face-off at 7 p.m. on January 13 and at noon on January 14 at McKendree Metro Rec Plex in Lebanon, IL.