By Kim Wrona
1/21/15 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies traveled to Rolling Meadows on January 16 and 17 to face off against DePaul University for 2 games.
The weekend didn’t start the way the Huskies would have liked it to as DePaul scored at the 14:14 mark of the opening period on Friday to take the lead. The home squad then added a second tally at 5:01 of the second period to make it 2-0.
The Huskies cut their deficit to 1 as senior forward Justin Rucinski scored an unassisted goal to make it 2-1, but that was as close as NIU would get. DePaul was able to hang on for the 2-1 victory. Senior goaltender Alex Hare made 39 saves on 41 shots in the loss.
The amount of shots on goal fired by both teams in the game was about as equal as the final score; NIU outshot DePaul 42-41.
“We played well as a team, but we just really couldn’t finish any of our plays,” junior defenseman Ron Coletta said. “We had a lot of stuff going on, but we couldn’t finish any of the goals we were trying to get.”
“I think we came out flat,” Rucinski said. “Not to make an excuse of it being a late game [a 9 p.m. start], but that’s probably what it’s about.”
“We had a really slow start in the first period and they got 2 goals, so we were digging ourselves out of a hole for most of the game,” senior forward Joe Serpico said. “We came close, got 1 in the second, but couldn’t quite tie it up. But it’s something we’ll have to work on for next weekend.”
Saturday’s contest had a very different outcome than Friday’s game for the Huskies.
The Huskies were able to get on the board first in the tilt, courtesy of Rucinski. He tallied just 1:04 into the game to put NIU up 1-0.
DePaul was able to tie the game up later on in the opening frame and then took the lead 11:28 into the second period, but the Huskies battled back.
Coletta scored to tie the game up at 2 with just under 3 minutes left in the frame. Junior forward Nick Leon tallied the go-ahead goal at 11:36 of the third period to put the Huskies up 3-2, which was the final score of the game. Hare made 30 saves on 32 shots in the contest; NIU outshot DePaul 43-32.
“Saturday’s game was better,” Serpico said. “I still don’t think we played a full 60 minutes, but it was definitely better than Friday’s game. We didn’t have as bad as a period as the first period was on Friday. We got an early lead a minute or something into the game. So, it was better, but not great.”
“Saturday’s game we played a lot better actually,” Coletta said. “In all honesty, I feel like we just were able to withstand the third period more than they were. They were pretty tired midway through the second, so I think that was our biggest advantage in Saturday’s game.”
The Huskies now turn their attention to a set of home games at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee on January 23 and 24 as they host Saint Louis University.
“We just have to work hard every shift [to win],” Rucinski said.
“We just need to keep playing like a team and really finish our plays,” Coletta said. “We didn’t really play bad all weekend, but we just really need to finish our plays and keep our heads all weekend.”
“We got to get back to the way we were playing before winter break,” Serpico said. “We’re still finding our legs again, but I think that it’s our third weekend back and we should have them for this weekend and we just have to get back to playing our team game.”
Friday night’s game is AHAI Youth Hockey Night and the game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s tilt is set to start at 3 p.m.