By Kim Wrona
11/19/14 – DeKalb, IL | The DIII Huskies participated in the Robert Morris University Showcase over the weekend where they took on RMU Black, Indiana University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 3 days.
Friday’s game against RMU Black saw the Huskies get on the board first courtesy of freshman forward Billy Petersen. Not long after, RMU tied the game up at 1. There wasn’t another goal scored in the close contest until the 51 second mark of the third period when RMU took a 2-1 lead, which was how the final score stood. Freshman goaltender Jake Tower made 28 saves in the loss.
“Friday was a tough one to swallow because we couldn’t get any bounces,” sophomore forward Jeremy Bilecki said. “The goalie made save after save after save. It was a good game. We played with them. … Good breakouts, good everything. We couldn’t get any of the bounces to go our way.”
“It was terrible because we got shots, we were in the zone for a lot of the game and we beat them earlier in the year and it just seemed like they were a lot better, they were a lot more of a team and we couldn’t get anything going,” sophomore forward Brian Kostecka said.
“Everything we threw at the net was just the goalie making saves, playing a good game,” sophomore goaltender JoJo Durrbeck said. “You’re going to run into stuff like that; the goalie’s going to be hot and stuff. But I think we played a good game overall. We controlled the play a lot. They controlled the play at times, but we did a good job of bringing it back. But we’ll run into games like that. We had to stay positive, obviously. It was a Friday game and we had two more games that weekend so we just really had to look past it.”
“That happens,” head coach Nick Madonia said about the lack of bounces in NIU’s favor. “It’s a long season. We had our bounces the first time we played them. Their goalie played out of his mind. I think we put up 35 shots on him and we just couldn’t beat him. Credit to their goalie, he definitely kept them alive in that game. They played a great game. It was a great game both ways and we just couldn’t put one past him but we see them twice more this year.”
Saturday’s game against Indiana saw the Huskies fight back from 2 deficits in the first period. Bilecki scored twice to tie the game up for the Huskies. Junior defenseman Brandon Bangert tallied on the power play to put the Huskies up 3-2 during the second period, but Indiana scored to tie the game up at 3 before the middle frame ended. The Huskies then gave up 3 goals in the third period to drop the game 6-3. Durrbeck made 42 saves in the contest.
“We played well for two periods,” Kostecka said. “We played really well. Indiana is a tough team. They’re probably the best team we played this weekend. We just collapsed. We let one goal get to our heads and defense shut down.”
“Our first period, that was our best period of the year, I think, breaking out-wise, position-wise, everything,” Bilecki said. “The second period was good and then the third period was–I don’t know what it was. We just fell apart.”
“Saturday I think we brought a lot more intensity,” Durrbeck said. “… They brought a good intensity, too, so it made for a good couple periods. We carried the play a lot, but the third period started and I think we just lost it. I don’t know what happened. It was 3-3 going into the third, so it wasn’t like we knew we were going to win; we weren’t even leading. But we just lost our intensity for a bit and it’s just something we have to learn about playing a 60 minute game. 40 minutes isn’t going to cut it. They controlled the third period and we controlled most of the other periods, so it’s going to take a 60 minute effort against a team like that [to win].”
“Saturday’s game was a really good game for two periods and then we shut down for the first 5-10 minutes of the third period and gave them the game,” Madonia said. “So, we didn’t play as well as I would have liked to see it, but we bounced back and played a good game on Sunday.”
Sunday’s game against SIUE saw the Huskies fall 1-0 early in the first period, but junior forward Tyler Hilton scored to tie the game at 1. Bilecki tallied before the opening frame ended to give NIU a 2-1 lead and Kostecka extended the lead in the second period to 3-1. SIUE tied the game up at 3 in the third period and sent the game into overtime, and then a shootout. The Huskies were able to pick up the 4-3 victory in the shootout, courtesy of the winning marker from senior defenseman Gregg Jacobson and saves from senior goaltender Jessica Stubitsch; overall she made 23 saves in the contest.
“Sunday’s game was wild,” Madonia said. “We took the lead, then gave it up, which you never like to see, but the previous 2 games in the third period when we gave up a couple of goals, we stopped playing. It was nice to see us battle back and win in the shootout.”
“It felt great [to pick up the win], especially after those two tough games,” Kostecka said. “It was difficult because we played a different SIUE team in SIU. They were a lot better. We couldn’t get as much going. We got breakaways and 2-on-1’s, but nothing went in. We couldn’t get shots.”
“That game was a blast,” Bilecki said. “It went into a shootout and it was a lot of fun. We played good the first period and then we lost it in the third and they came back but we pushed out in the end. It was a good game.”
“It was a big win in the shootout,” Durrbeck said. “The team came together. [SIUE] came onto us in the third period. It was kind of like Saturday. We came out in the third and kind of gave up a couple goals, but luckily we had the lead. We surrendered the lead, it was tied, and then we did a good job of regrouping and sticking with it. They were pretty pumped up about tying it up so it was a good end of the game, a good overtime and then the shootout. We do shootouts so much in practices this year that it was finally time for us to just show what we can do and it finally paid off.”
The Huskies will now take on Illinois State University on November 21 and 22 at Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.
“ISU is going to be a good team,” Madonia said. “We just need to play smart. We’ve been working a lot on our breakouts and smooth exits of the zone. So, we just need to make sure we’re hammering that home and getting the puck out and not making any turnovers at either blue line.”
“We need to play a full game like how we did against Indiana for two periods,” Kostecka said. “We need to realize how to get into the zone. We need to break it out well. We need to get shots and rebounds. We need our power play to actually be effective. Over the weekend we had a 5-on-3 where we didn’t even get a shot on net and that looked pathetic.”
“We need to come out strong, like the first period we played against Indiana except play all three periods like that,” Bilecki said. “And then after that, we just need to keep the pressure up and don’t get any mental lapses.”
“I think we’re just going to have to come up with a 60 minute effort and just really carry the play most of both nights,” Durrbeck said.
Friday’s puck drop is slated for 10 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set to begin at 5:50 p.m.