By Kim Wrona
2/23/19 — DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies wrapped up the 2018-2019 season with a road trip to the central part of the state to take on the University of Illinois on February 8 and 9. The Huskies and the Illini split the MACHA Conference weekend series, with the Huskies coming out on top in the last game.
On Friday night, the Illini got on the board first just over halfway through the opening frame, but the Huskies were able to tie the game at one with freshman forward Brandon Ledyard’s 12th goal of the season at 5:40 of the second period.
The Illini regained their one-goal lead nearly 50 seconds later, but the Huskies fought back and tied the game at two with senior forward Eric Svejda’s 18th goal on the 2018-2019 campaign later in the middle frame.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, the Illini scored two unanswered goals in the third period to win by a score of 4-2. Graduate goaltender Stephen Thulin made 38 saves on 42 shots in the contest. Illinois outshot NIU by a 42-38 margin. The Huskies went 0-4 on the power play and killed off both of the Illini’s two man advantages.
The Huskies scored early and often during Saturday’s contest. Senior forward Nick Treiber got NIU on the board first at 2:06 of the first period with his 24th goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Robert Apter netted his fourth tally on the year to give NIU a 2-0 lead at 6:18.
The Huskies added three more markers in the opening frame courtesy of senior defenseman Tommy Rhyan (his ninth of the year), junior forward Brad Krauser (his 19th of the year) and Svejda (his 19th of the year) to extend their lead to 5-0.
The Illini scored twice before the halfway mark of the second period to cut the Huskies’ lead to three goals, but Treiber responded with two more goals for the hat trick to restore the NIU lead.
Treiber’s second goal of the game, his 25th of the season, came at 11:28 of the second period and his third goal of the game, his 26th of the season, was scored at 8:42 of the third period.
NIU tacked on one more goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to defeat the Illini by a score of 8-2. Thulin made 30 saves on 32 shots in the contest. NIU outshot Illinois by a 38-32 margin. The Huskies went 0-4 on the power play again and killed off all five of the Illini’s man advantages.
The DII Huskies’ final record on the 2018-2019 season, and their last as a DII ACHA club, is 12-18-1-0. Next season, the Huskies will move up to become a DI ACHA club.