By Kim Wrona
12/1/15 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies traveled down to Estero, Florida on November 20 and 21 to take on Florida Gulf Coast University at Germain Arena.
The weekend did not go well for the Huskies as they dropped both games to the Eagles.
Friday’s game featured the Eagles scoring 15 unanswered goals as the home squad defeated the Huskies 15-0.
Sophomore goaltender Jake Leon started the game and played 51:17. During that time, he made 31 saves on 41 shots. Junior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck relieved him after the tenth goal and played 8:43. He made three saves on eight shots on net.
Florida had four players register four points in the game: Mark Arnone (4 A), C.J. Cruz (3G, A), Dan Echeverri (3 G, A) and Nick Houser (4 A). Dillon Duprey (3 G) and Josh Koerner (3 A) tallied three points each for the Eagles.
The Eagles outshot the Huskies by a margin of 49-22. NIU failed to convert on its one power play while FGCU scored on two of its three man advantages.
“Friday’s game was a little rough for us,” sophomore forward Billy Petersen said. “We could have played better. We could have played all three periods better. … But we knew they were a good team and we knew what we were going to be up against. We may have been a little intimidated coming into [the game] but other than that we could have played better.”
“They’re a very deep team and with fighting injuries, we just couldn’t keep up the entire game,” head coach Chuck Rinaldo said. “We started out okay on Friday. But immediately they were able to mismatch some lines and get some advantages and gain momentum.”
Saturday’s game faired a little better for the Huskies, but NIU still did not come out on top in the contest.
The Eagles scored the first six goals of the contest. Those six markers included a hat trick from Jordan Klotz.
The Huskies got on the board at the 9:52 mark of the third period as Petersen scored his first goal of the year. The Eagles added another marker with 42 seconds left in the contest to make the final score 7-1 in the home team’s favor.
Durrbeck started the game in net for the Huskies and made 42 saves on 49 shots. Florida outshot the Huskies by a margin of 49-25. Both teams went 0-2 on the power play.
“Saturday’s game was a little better,” Petersen said. “We played a longer amount of the game the way we know how to play. We showed them for a while there that we can keep up with them. But we can still play a lot better than we did. … We actually got to tally a goal in there so it was a lot closer of a game.”
“JoJo Durrbeck was our star of the game on Saturday,” Rinaldo said. “He kept us in it. He did a phenomenal job. Our guys settled in a little bit and got rid of their bus legs or plane legs and realized that the other team is hockey players just like we are. We gave them a little bit of a run. It wasn’t a game we were going to win, but I think we made a lot of progress. I think we learned a lot, especially by the way we finished on Saturday.”
The Huskies return home the weekend after Thanksgiving break to host DePaul University, which is one of the teams they just saw at the Robert Morris University Showcase on November 15.
“To beat DePaul this weekend, we have to be a lot more physical because DePaul is a physical team,” Petersen said. “They like to take the body a lot. They’re a pretty quick team as well, but we’re a little faster; we have more speed. If we use our speed to our advantage, take the body more on them and take them off the puck more then we’ll have a lot better chance at winning.”
“It looks like we’re going to be healthier,” Rinaldo said. “That key depth against DePaul is going to be big because they depend on their top line for a lot of scoring production. They’re a team that scores by shots on quantity. If they can outshoot us 50-30, they’re going to win. If we can keep shots even and have better opportunities, we’ll come out on top.”
The Huskies and the Blue Demons will face off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 4 and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 5 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.