By Kim Wrona
10/4/16 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies defeated Northern Michigan University on September 30 and October 1 during NIU’s trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The Huskies got out to a quick start during Friday’s game as freshman forward Nick Gulli tallied his third goal of the season to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead in the first period.
The Wildcats tied the game up later in the period, but sophomore forward David Madrigal gave NIU the lead back before the first frame ended with his first marker of the 2016-17 season.
The Huskies extended their lead to two with a power play goal in the second period. Freshman defenseman Jake Hamilton netted his first tally of the year with a shot as senior forward Cody Billeck screened the Northern Michigan netminder.
The Huskies players continued to rack up individual first goals of the season as junior forward Eric Svejda netted his first of the year in the middle frame to give NIU a 4-1 lead.
Senior forward Tyler Hilton added his first tally of the season to make it 5-1 in the third period while senior forward Ryan Saunders added his second goal of the year in the final frame. Saunders’ marker gave the Huskies a 6-1 lead and sealed the victory for NIU.
Senior goaltender JoJo Durrbeck made 28 saves on 29 shots in the contest. NIU outshot Northern Michigan by a margin of 44-29. The Huskies went 1-6 on the man advantage and killed off all five Wildcat power plays.
“We knew we had to come out and try to have a fast start because the other team knew we had a long road trip,” Durrbeck said after the eight hour bus trip to Northern Michigan. “Luckily, we did have a pretty quick start. Gulli had a nice goal and we came out pretty fast and ready to play. I don’t think I saw many shots in the first period, so good on the guys in front of me [for] controlling the tempo of the game. ”
“I think Friday went well,” sophomore defenseman Alex Kalinsky said. “A lot of guys were stepping up. […] Our power play is looking good. Our penalty kill–myself, Tommy [Turner], Saunders and [Holden] Carkner–are doing well together, killing off most of the penalties that we face. […] We just played well as a team and I think things are clicking for us right now.”
Saturday’s contest also featured a quick Huskies start. Senior defenseman Ron Coletta tallied his third goal of the season in the opening frame to give NIU a 1-0 lead. Senior forward Jake Jauch netted his first goal of the season later in the first stanza to put the Huskies up by two markers.
Sophomore defenseman Stefan Cefali scored his second goal of the year during an NIU power play in the second period. Madrigal also added a tally in the second period to put the Huskies up by four goals.
The Wildcats broke junior goaltender Jake Leon’s bid at a shutout later in the middle frame during a power play.
Madrigal answered back for the Huskies in the third period with his second goal of the game. His power play marker put NIU up by a score of 5-1.
Northern Michigan scored two tallies on the man advantage in the third to cut NIU’s lead to two, but Madrigal completed his hat trick for his fourth goal of the year and to give NIU the 6-3 victory.
“When you play back-to-back games, there’s going to be a little bit of that chippiness to [the second game],” Durrbeck said. “But we came out pretty much the same way [as Friday] with a fast start. […] We got into some penalty trouble because it was a bit of a chippy game. It cost us on some goals, but other than that, [it was a] pretty good weekend overall.”
“The penalties got us a little bit [on Saturday], but we were still able to pull through,” Kalinsky said. “We had two goals per period again [like on Friday], so that was nice [for the team].”
The Huskies continue their road trip next weekend as they travel to take on Missouri State University’s Division-I team.
“Missouri is going to be really tough this weekend,” Kalinsky said. “We’ll have to play well as a team. We’re going to have to capitalize on Missouri’s mistakes if we want to win. […] It’ll be really tough, but if we all play together and work hard, I think we can pull off something special.”
“If we get into penalty trouble, they’ll absolutely destroy us with that,” Durrbeck said. “We have to play really smart and […] we have to come out with the same confidence that we did against Northern Michigan. We’re a good team and we have to come out knowing that we can play on the same ice as them. […] But it should be a good weekend and hopefully we’ll come out with a bang.”
The Huskies and the Ice Bears will face-off at 7 p.m. on October 7 and October 8 at Mediacom Ice Park in Springfield, MO.