DII Huskies sweep RMU Maroon
By Kim Wrona
1/14/15 – DeKalb, IL | The DII Huskies opened up the second semester of the 2014-15 season by hosting Robert Morris University Maroon at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee on January 9 and 10.
It didn’t take the Huskies long to pick up where they left off offensively before winter break as freshman forward Eric Svejda put NIU up 1-0 at the 16:05 mark of the first period of Friday night’s game.
24 seconds into the second period, the Huskies added to their lead as senior forward Mark Greenberg scored to make it 2-0. Svejda tacked on his second marker of the night just 1:02 later to put the Eagles in a 3 goal hole. Junior forward Max Finley joined in on the scoring at the 18:38 mark of the middle frame to extend the NIU lead to 4-0.
Senior forward Justin Rucinski and freshman forward Matthew Gould both got on the board in the third period to make it 6-0 NIU, but RMU broke senior goaltender Alex Hare’s bid at a shutout at 7:44 of the final frame to make it 6-1.
The Huskies were able to hold on for the victory though. Hare made 26 saves on 27 shots in the contest.
“We came out strong for being the first game back from break,” Finley said. “We just stuck to what coach said and that was just keep it simple and it ended up working out for us.”
“I think we came out fast, especially coming off of winter break,” Svejda said. “Everyone was still getting their legs back. … As soon as we got our first goal, the floodgates opened after that. We got our first goal halfway through the first and then it seemed like everything you shot at the net would be a rebound.”
“I was surprised that we came [out] as strong as we did [for] not being on the ice for so long as a team,” junior forward Nick Gorczyca said. “But I was impressed; I was glad we were able to take it to them like we did.”
Despite coming out of the gate strong, the game wasn’t perfect for the Huskies.
“We also relied a little bit on Hare,” Svejda said. “We had some defensive breakdowns. We could have done better to get the pucks out of the zone. We would just throw it up to their ‘D’ and they would just shoot it on net.”
The offense fired up quickly during Saturday’s game. Rucinski was able to put the Huskies up 1-0 just 44 seconds into the opening frame. 1:05 later, Svejda potted his third goal of the weekend to give NIU a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles answered back 11 seconds after Svejda’s goal to cut their deficit to 1, but senior defenseman Brian Pounds restored the Huskies’ 2 goal lead at 17:38 of the first period.
The lone goal of the second period came off of the stick of Rucinski for his second tally of the night at the 15:25 mark as he made it 4-1 in the Huskies’ favor.
Svejda also added his second marker of the game at 7:30 of the third period to make it 5-1. The Eagles tallied not long after that to shave a bit off of their deficit, but Gorczyca put NIU back up 6-2 at 13:47 of the period.
RMU tallied on a power play later on to make the score 6-3, but the Huskies were once again able to hang on for the victory. Freshman goaltender Jake Leon made 34 saves on 37 shots in the tilt.
“Saturday I was a little worried at first that we weren’t going to be able to play as well as Friday just because if you take it to a team pretty good, sometimes you come out flat the next day,” Gorczyca said. “We had a few mistakes on Saturday, but they weren’t enough to change the outcome of the game and, same thing, we took it to them like we did on Friday.”
“I think we came out a little bit slower than Friday, but we stayed disciplined and took less penalties than them so I think that was the main factor in that game,” Finley said. “We played pretty well on Saturday and ended up with a win.”
“I thought we came out pretty slow,” Svejda said. “We got 2 quick goals, but then they answered pretty quickly, too. It was a tight game until we kind of broke loose and they started taking penalties.”
The Huskies will now take on DePaul University on January 16 and 17 at West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows.
“We only played DePaul once and I remember, at least my first shift, I got wrecked by one of their big guys,” Svejda said. “So, I think we’re going to have to be physical to show them that we’re not afraid to get pushed around.”
“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing with scoring goals, spreading the puck around and getting scoring from all sides of the team, not just our top guys,” Gorczyca said. “And [we have to] keep it simple; take it to them like we have been.”
“We got to play physical with them,” Finley said. “They’re a physical team so we have to play physical and use our speed to get around them and hopefully score some goals.”
Friday’s game is slated to begin at 9 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set to start at 3:10 p.m.