DII Huskies return winless from Missouri

By Kim Wrona

10/29/15 – DeKalb, IL  |  The DII Huskies traveled down to Missouri for two games against Lindenwood University on October 23 and 24.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, the teams tied in Friday’s game and Lindenwood took the victory in Saturday’s game.

The first game of the weekend was a low scoring affair.  Lindenwood scored the first goal of the game in the second period.  NIU didn’t tie the game up at one until the third period when senior forward and team captain Justin Rucinski tallied a power play goal just past the halfway mark of the final frame.

Lindenwood scored about four minutes later to retake the lead, but Rucinski tied the game up again at two less than one minute later.

The game went into overtime, but no pucks found the back of the net, resulting in the game ending in a 2-2 tie.

Sophomore goaltender Jake Leon made 31 saves on 33 shots in the contest.

“Friday we came out a little bit slow,” coach Nick Madonia said.  “Lindenwood is a really good team.  …  Our bus legs killed us the first five minutes of the game.  The ice was definitely tilted one way.  Luckily, Jake Leon was able to play a really strong game, especially that first period, and kept things close until we got our legs back.”

Saturday’s tilt featured more scoring than the previous night.  Lindenwood scored the first goal of the night in the first period, but Rucinski was able to tie the game up less than eight minutes later.

Lindenwood scored twice to start the middle frame, but senior forward Nick Leon tallied a natural hat trick throughout the rest of the second period and the third period to give NIU a 4-3 lead.

The Huskies were unable to hold the lead though as Lindenwood scored three unanswered goals—the last one being an empty net goal—so the home team could take the game by a score of 6-4.

“Saturday’s game we went down early and worked our way back into it,” Madonia said.  “We were down by a couple goals in the second, down 3-1.  We were able to come back and take the lead; we just weren’t able to close out the game.  We had a couple of guys banged up over the weekend.  …  People need to step up now.”

The Huskies have another weekend of home games after their brief road trip to Missouri.  On October 30 and 31, NIU will host Saint Thomas University at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.

“We need to play 60 minutes and not have dips in the game where we start giving up goals really quickly,” Madonia said.

Friday’s contest is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set to start at 3 p.m.