By Kim Wrona
9/25/17 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies traveled down to Bloomington, IL for two MACHA Conference games against Illinois State University on September 22 and 23. The Huskies came out of the weekend victorious as they picked up the sweep against the Redbirds.
The Huskies jumped out to an early lead on Friday night at the Pepsi Ice Center. Sophomore forward Brad Krauser got the Huskies on the board first with his second goal of the season. Senior forward Eric Svejda then gave NIU a two goal lead two minutes later with his first goal of the year. Junior forward Nick Treiber then gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead with just under five minutes to play in the opening frame.
The Redbirds tallied a power play goal 39 seconds into the second period to cut NIU’s lead to 3-1. Less than three minutes later, the Redbirds pulled within a goal of the Huskies. But the Huskies answered back with Krauser’s second goal of the night to restore their two goal lead.
With 10:59 remaining in the third period, graduate defenseman Bryan Peterson netted his first goal of the season to give NIU a 5-2 lead during a man advantage. But a minute later, the Redbirds scored a power play goal to cut NIU’s lead to two goals once again.
The Huskies pushed back with tallies from senior forward Matthew Gould and another one from Peterson to pick up their first win on the 2017-18 campaign by a score of 7-3.
Senior goaltender Nick Bove made 33 saves on 36 shots in the contest. NIU outshot ISU by a 51-36 margin. The Redbirds went 2-7 on the power play while the Huskies went 1-8 on the man advantage.
The Huskies got out to another quick start on Saturday night against the Redbirds. Junior forward Holden Carkner scored his first goal of the season from the top of the crease just past the six minute mark of the first period. Senior defenseman Tommy Turner then tallied his first goal of the season 15 seconds later to put NIU by a score of 2-0.
The Redbirds cut NIU’s lead in half just before the seven minute mark of the second period with a power play goal. The Redbirds special teams came up big again later in the middle frame as they netted a shorthanded goal to tie the game up at two.
The Huskies’ answered back with a power play goal of their own just over a minute later. Sophomore forward David Muth scored his first goal of the season with a shot through traffic from the left hashmarks to put the Huskies up 3-2.
Svejda scored his second goal of the weekend with 1:21 left in the middle frame to give NIU a 4-2 lead.
At the 6:45 mark of the third period, Carkner tallied his second goal of the game while the Huskies were on a power play to give NIU a 5-2 lead.
ISU added a power play goal with 7:47 remaining in regulation, but the Huskies were able to hang on for the 5-3 victory and sweep the weekend.
Senior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck made 32 saves on 35 shots in the contest. The Redbirds went 2-6 on the power play while the Huskies went 3-6 on the man advantage. The DII Huskies now have a 2-2-0-0-0 record on the 2017-18 season.
“Everyone was chipping in and helping,” head coach Nick Madonia said. “We were moving the puck well [this weekend] and taking a lot more shots.”
“All the [rookies] are starting to really come into their own,” Peterson said. “A lot of guys got their first [goals] this weekend. Everybody’s starting to wake up and there was a lot of good supporting of the puck. There was never not two guys on the puck.”
The power play was a major focus during the week at practice and it showed in game play over the weekend.
“Our power play improved a lot,” Peterson said. “We worked on it a lot at practice. Once they get that first power play goal, their confidence goes up so they just keep rolling from there.”
“We went through a few different rotations that we wanted to see, a few different looks depending on what [their] penalty kill was going to give us,” Madonia said. “We saw their penalty kill the first time through, made a few changes, and then we attacked it differently.”
The shorthanded aspect of the Huskies’ game is something that still needs to be worked on for next weekend’s games.
“Our penalty kill still needs some work,” Madonia said. “Obviously, it’s not perfect yet, but we’re getting there. If we stay composed, we’re going to be in every game this season.”
For Peterson, consistently playing a full 60 minutes is something the team needs to accomplish next weekend.
“For some reason, we keep coming out in the second a little flatfooted,” the Palos Heights, IL native said. “We need to be better coming into that second period. It happened [Friday] and [Saturday]. They got two goals [Friday] and two goals [Saturday] in the beginning of the second. We need to be a little bit better in the middle of our game and we just need to stay calm in our D-Zone.”
The Huskies will be on the road once again as they travel to Iowa to take on the Iowa State University Cyclones on September 29 and 30. Friday’s tilt is slated to begin at 9:45 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set to start at 7:00 p.m. at Ames Ice Arena in Ames, IA.