By Kim Wrona
1/23/18 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies dropped their last two home games of the 2017-2018 season to the McKendree University Bearcats on January 19 and 20 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.
Senior forward Eric Svejda put up seven points (2 G, 5 A) on the weekend while sophomore forward Brad Krauser (3 G, A) and junior forward Nick Treiber (G, 3 A) recorded four points each.
It was senior weekend for NIU. The Huskies graduating in May include goaltenders Nick Bove and JoJo Durrbeck, defenseman Thomas Turner and forward Jordan Niedziela.
The Huskies got on the board first during Friday’s contest with Krauser’s 18th goal of the season at 12:48 of the opening frame. But the Bearcats answered back less than one minute to tie the game up at one. McKendree tallied twice more before the period was over to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
29 seconds into the second period, the Bearcats extended their lead to 4-1 with a power play tally. Freshman forward Michael Pelagio cut the NIU deficit to two goals with his sixth goal on the 2017-2018 campaign at 5:15.
Svejda brought the Huskies within a goal just over two minutes later with his 20th marker of the year. Unfortunately for NIU, the Bearcats followed Svejda’s marker up with two of their own to take a 6-3 lead.
Junior forward Tommy Rhyan cut the McKendree lead to two goals at 11:52 with his fourth tally of the season. Sophomore forward Dave Muth recorded a power play marker with less than five minutes to go in the middle frame for his sixth of the season to cut the Bearcat lead to one goal.
McKendree tallied a late second period goal and an early third period goal to take an 8-5 lead over NIU. At 1:19 of the final frame, Treiber scored his 17th goal of the season to cut the Bearcat lead once again. Muth then tallied his second of the game and seventh of the season to bring the Huskies within a goal yet again.
The Huskies were finally able to tie the game at eight with a power play marker at 12:32 with Svejda’s second of the game and 21st of the season. But just over a minute later, the Bearcats scored the go-ahead goal to take a 9-8 victory over NIU.
Durrbeck started the game and made 18 saves on 23 shots in 27:40 of ice time. Bove made 16 saves on 20 shots in 32:20 of ice time. McKendree outshot NIU by a 43-16 margin. The Huskies went 2-for-2 on the power play while the Bearcats went 2-for-3 on the man advantage.
Saturday’s game started the same as Friday’s contest as Krauser got the Huskies on the board first with his 19th goal of the season from the left circle at 5:21 of the first period.
But McKendree answered back with five consecutive goals to take a 5-1 lead over NIU by 12:35 of the opening frame. Krauser cut the Bearcat lead to three goals with his second of the period and 20th goal of the season. The Bartlett native was sprung on a breakaway by Svejda and sent a backhanded shot in, top shelf at 15:14.
Rhyan cut the NIU deficit to 5-3 with 1:20 left in the second period. The Arlington Heights native found himself on a breakaway and patiently waited to shoot until he was near the bottom of the right circle and put the puck into the back of the net by banking it off the far post for his fifth goal on the 2017-2018 campaign.
The Bearcats scored twice in the third period to secure a 7-3 victory over the Huskies for the sweep of the weekend.
McKendree outshot NIU by a 48-26 margin. The Huskies went 0-for-3 on the power play and killed off all four of the Bearcats’ man advantages. The DII Huskies now have a record of 9-21-1-0 on the 2017-2018 season.
The Huskies will travel to southern Illinois for two MACHA Conference games against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The Huskies and the Cougars will face-off at 10:45 p.m. on January 26 and at 5:45 p.m. on January 27 at East Alton Ice Arena in East Alton, Ill.