By Kim Wrona
11/16/16 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies participated in the Robert Morris University Showcase from November 11-13 at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. The Huskies played three games in three days and picked up a victory on Sunday afternoon against Northern Michigan University.
NIU took on Waldorf University on Friday afternoon. The Huskies jumped out to a quick start as junior forward Patrick Wrobel scored 39 seconds into the contest to give NIU a 1-0 lead. The marker was Wrobel’s third goal of the season.
The Warriors tied the game up at one at the 8:29 mark of the period. With 4:31 left in the frame, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead with a power play goal. Senior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck kept the Huskies deficit at one as he stopped a shorthanded Waldorf breakaway attempt with 39 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Waldorf added three goals in the second period to make the score 5-1 in the Warriors’ favor. Junior goaltender Nick Bove took over the NIU crease for the third period, but Waldorf kept the Warrior train rolling as they added four more goals to take a 9-1 victory over the Huskies.
Durrbeck made 24 saves on 29 shots in his 40 minutes of action and Bove made 14 saves on 18 shots in the final frame. The Warriors outshot the Huskies by a 47-22 margin. The Huskies didn’t convert on any of their seven power plays while the Warriors tallied on three of their four man advantages.
NIU and RMU Maroon faced-off against each other on the second day of the Showcase. The Eagles got on the board first in Saturday’s contest at the 8:31 mark of the first period.
Junior goaltender Jake Leon and RMU netminder Mike Czupryn stood tall in the second period as the middle frame was a scoreless affair.
The Eagles extended their lead in the third period with a shot from the point that found the back of the net at the 5:02 mark of the final frame. RMU was able to hang on to its 2-0 lead for the victory over the Huskies.
Leon made 40 saves on 42 shots in the contest. The Eagles outshot the Huskies by a 42-40 margin. The Huskies went 0-3 on the power play and the Eagles scored on two of their four man advantages.
To wrap up the Showcase, the Huskies took on Northern Michigan University on Sunday afternoon. NIU got out to another quick start as junior forward Eric Svejda netted his third goal of the season 47 seconds into the contest to give NIU a 1-0 lead.
Less than one minute later, freshman forward Nick Gulli tallied his ninth goal of the season to put the Huskies up by two goals.
At 9:10 of the opening frame, Svejda found junior forward Mike Wojtkiewicz in the left circle and Wojtkiewicz sent a one-timer into the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season to put NIU up by a score of 3-0.
With 4:22 left in the first period, the Wildcats got on the board with a shot that beat Durrbeck blocker side to cut the NIU lead to two goals.
The Huskies restored their lead 1:21 into the third period as senior forward Cody Billeck cashed in on a rebound for his second goal of the season.
Senior defenseman Bryan Peterson pinched in from the point and found himself at the top of the Wildcat crease with 2:12 remaining in regulation as he then potted his first goal of the year to put NIU up by a score of
The Wildcats added a goal with 41.3 seconds left in the game, but the Huskies were still able to hang on for the 5-2 victory.
Durrbeck made 28 saves on 30 shots in the contest. The Huskies outshot the Wildcats by a 46-30 margin. The Huskies went 0-6 on the power play but killed off all five Wildcat man advantages.
“I think we played more of a complete game against Northern Michigan,” Durrbeck said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve played them and they’ve played quite a bit of games since then. They were a different hockey team and we knew that. We had to come out and really play hard. We had to come out with a fast start and we did. That set us up to have a really good, solid game the rest of the way.”
“We worked really well as a team,” junior forward Billy Petersen said. “We really moved the puck well and had a lot of confidence going into the game. We had a good start; it was a quick start. We really maintained [the pace] throughout the whole game.”
The Huskies’ 2016-17 record now stands at 6-11-0-0-0, but the team learned a lot from their RMU Showcase games.
“We got better each game and I think that’s a pretty good positive,” Durrbeck said. “Three games in three days is a pretty tough schedule, but being able to just keep going and trying to grind it out was good for us and finishing the weekend off with a big win was good for us.”
“We learned what we can and can’t do,” Gulli said. “We know that we can hang with the no. 5 team in the league [… and] we’re only improving; we can only go from here in my mind.”
“We learned a lot during this weekend, especially in the first two games,” Petersen said. “We kept up with the teams for a little while, but it just really comes down to playing all three periods. If we play all three periods as a team then we can get the ‘W’.”
The DII Huskies will return to home ice as they host Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in their next set of MACHA Conference games.
“We have to come out flying in the first period and we have to keep it going like we did during [Sunday’s] game,” Petersen said. “We have to keep up the speed and keep up the intensity for the whole game.”
“We have to keep up the shooting,” Gulli said. “We had a lot of good shots [Sunday] and it showed on the scoreboard. We need to stay out of the box, too.”
“We have to skate with the same confidence as we did [Sunday] against Northern Michigan and do that the rest of the way,” Durrbeck said. “I think we can win some games and beat some teams that aren’t expecting it.”
The Huskies and the Cougars will face-off at 7:30 p.m. on November 18 and at 5:30 p.m. on November 19 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.