By Kim Wrona
11/12/14 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies traveled to Missouri to take on the University of Missouri on November 7 and 8.
NIU was looking to bounce back after an overtime loss the previous weekend against Northern Michigan and the team did so in a big way: they swept the weekend with scores of 9-1 and 4-2.
Friday’s game was an overall good game for the Huskies.
“I thought we played really well,” junior forward Brandon Niedziela said. “We were down a few guys, but he [coach Nick Madonia] mixed up the lines and it actually worked. We won 9-1. Everything was clicking.”
“We played as a team,” senior forward Mark Greenberg said. “We took it to them; we didn’t give them any chance to breathe. Everything was clicking. All the lines were producing; it was nice. Putting up 9-1, it was a pretty good beating.”
“I knew that they were going to give us a good game; they usually always have in the past,” senior goaltender Alex Hare said. “I think that we came out and played well. They were going to have their chances, I knew that coming in, but I thought overall we would end up beating them.”
“Friday’s game went well,” Madonia said. “We started kind of slow. I think it was 2-0 after the first period, but once we shook the bus legs, our offense is tough to stop once they get going. I believe after the second period, it was 7-1 or 7-0, so we did some work. We put up a lot of goals in the second period.”
Saturday’s contest was closer than the Huskies would have liked, but they still were able to post a victory.
“I knew that they would change some things up,” Hare said. “I think that we both played the same game. It was a weird game overall. Everything felt a little different. We really couldn’t pull away was the only way to really say it.”
“Saturday was a little bit tougher,” Madonia said. “Due to a couple of injuries and a couple more personal things, we were short a couple of players. We had a guy have an asthma attack on the bench, so that was tough. But even though we only had 3 lines basically and 6 defensemen, we struggled to get going. We’d get pressure but would hit a post or the goalie would make a big save or we’d take a penalty or an offsides or something. Every time we would start to get some momentum, it would slow down. It was a weird game because we carried the game for the most part, but we still were never able to pull away from them and kind of separate ourselves.”
“We got the win, but we did take a lot of penalties that day,” Niedziela said. “I think that’s why the score was closer than Friday. We had 2 more guys that got injured on Friday so that didn’t help.”
“We didn’t have all of our normal lines,” Greenberg said. “We had a couple people injured and some people dealing with some asthma issues. We didn’t have our full team there so we were just trying to scramble lines together and get stuff going. We still pulled a win out, which was good. But, I feel like if we had our whole team there it would have been similar to Friday.”
The Huskies are now bracing themselves for this upcoming weekend because it is the Robert Morris University Showcase. NIU will be playing 3 games in 3 days.
“I think the most important thing for this weekend is going to be to play up to the level that we’re going to be playing [against],” Hare said. “These are all top teams, so I think that we’re going to have to play our best in order to win all 3 games. But playing anything less might put us in a bad situation, knowing that we’re playing 3-in-3, which is difficult for any team to play through.”
“It’s going to be tough,” Greenberg said. “It’s always toughest on Sunday because we’re not used to playing on Sunday after playing 2 games. You’re usually pretty exhausted so we just got to really dig deep, play as a team, and make sure we’re not getting any dumb penalties, really just pushing forward as a team. And coming out of this weekend with 3 wins would be huge for rankings and bragging rights. I don’t know if we’ve ever won all 3–we’ve won 2 before–but winning 3 would definitely be nice.”
”I think if we go 3-and-3, we’ll shoot up in the rankings and we’ll look way better than what people think we are,” Niedziela said. “8’s pretty good, but I think we’re better than ISU and DePaul, and Robert Morris, but they’re ranked lower. I think we can do it, go 3-and-3.”
“You really can’t afford to have anyone exhausted for that third game,” Madonia said. “You need to stick with playing 5-on-5 hockey so you can get all 4 of your lines going through and not kill anybody through the first 2 games; it saves your legs for the third [game].”
Friday’s game is against Robert Morris University and will be at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville at 5 p.m. Saturday’s contest is against Illinois State University and will be located at The Edge’s John St. rink with a start time of 5:30 p.m. Sunday’s tilt is against DePaul University and will begin at 2:30 p.m.; it will also be held at the John St. rink.