by Kim Wrona
9/18/2018 — DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies opened the 2018-2019 season with two MACHA Conference games on the road against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes on September 14 and 15. The Huskies and Hawkeyes split the two match-ups, with NIU finishing the weekend with a victory. Senior forward Mike Wojtkiewicz led the way with four points on the weekend (2 G, 2 A) and freshman forward Brandon Ledyard picked up two goals in two games.
The Huskies drew the first blood of the season on Friday at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, IA. Junior forward Brad Krauser’s tally just before the three minute mark of the first period gave NIU an early lead. Wojtkiewicz then gave NIU a 2-0 lead almost seven minutes later.
The Hawkeyes cut the Huskies’ lead to one goal with 2:30 left in the opening frame, but NIU restored its lead 59 seconds into the middle frame with Ledyard’s first career goal in a Huskies sweater.
The Hawkeyes continued to fight back with a shorthanded goal later in the middle frame to cut the NIU lead to 3-2.
Wojtkiewicz added his second goal of the evening 2:22 into the third period to give the Huskies a two-goal cushion, but the Hawkeyes stormed back starting at the halfway point of the period. The University of Iowa scored three unanswered goals, including the game-winning marker with 29 seconds left in regulation, to take a 5-4 win over NIU.
The Hawkeyes outshot the Huskies by a 42-28 margin. Graduate goaltender Stephen Thulin made 37 saves on 42 shots in the contest. NIU went 0-5 on the power play while killing off Iowa’s lone man advantage.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes picked up where they left off on Friday night. Iowa scored twice early in the first period of the contest at Young Arena in Waterloo, IA, to take a 2-0 lead over NIU. Senior forward Nick Treiber got the Huskies on the board just before the eight minute mark of the opening frame with his first goal of the season.
Iowa restored its lead less than two minutes later, but Ledyard picked up his second goal of the weekend with 4:42 left in the period to send NIU into the intermission only down by one goal.
Senior forward Eric Svejda tied the game up at three for the Huskies with 14:27 left in the second period for his first marker of the year. Freshman defenseman Cody Radman tallied his first goal in an NIU sweater and gave the Huskies their first lead of the evening at 4:21 of the third period.
The Hawkeyes tied the game up at four just over three minutes later and that was enough to send the game into overtime. 65 minutes wasn’t enough time to decide this contest though. A three-round shootout ensued with sophomore defenseman Robert Apter scoring in the first round and Wojtkiewicz scoring in the second round for NIU. Wojtkiewicz’s tally helped up as the winner and propelled the Huskies to a 5-4 victory over the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes outshot the Huskies by a 43-36 margin. Iowa went 1-2 on the power play while NIU failed to convert on its lone man advantage. Thulin made 39 saves on 43 shots in the contest and picked up a secondary assist on Treiber’s first period tally.
The Huskies will now return to home ice for their home opening games of the 2018-2019 season. NIU will host Illinois State University’s DI team at 7:20 p.m. on September 21 and at 4:20 p.m. on September 22 at Leafs Ice Center in West Dundee.