By Kim Wrona
1/21/15 – DeKalb, IL | The DIII Huskies visited Western Illinois University on January 16 and 17 at Owens Center in Peoria. NIU was able to come away with 2 victories on the weekend as they swept WIU by scores of 11-0 and 14-2.
Sophomore goaltender JoJo Durrbeck was able to pitch a perfect game on Friday night as he stopped all 30 shots that Western was credited with firing on net.
“I think we shut it down defensively really well,” Durrbeck said. “There were only a few times that they had strong offensive pushes and I think that’s just a thing that went into the shutout. A shutout is kind of partially goaltending, but it’s a lot of a team thing. We had a chance to really only give them maybe 1 or 2 shots during an offensive play, get it out, get it in their zone and really work it. … They had me at 30 shots, but I think it was a little more than everybody thought. Our defense limited their offensive time and we just kind of kept it in their zone most of the time, so that made my job really easy.”
The Huskies’ offense came off of the sticks of multiple players. Freshman forward Eric Brennan tallied 4 times on Friday night while senior forward and team captain Jc Weems and sophomore forward Jeremy Bilecki found the back of the net 2 times each. Junior forwards Tyler Hilton and Mike Holum and sophomore forward Ryan Saunders were also able to put up markers.
In addition to the amount of goals put up by NIU, the Huskies were able to outshoot WIU 60-30 in the contest.
“Friday’s game we started out slow and then we started getting some power plays,” Saunders said. “We started to shoot some pucks at them and eventually started scoring goals and played a full 60 minutes.”
“Friday we started out slow,” Weems said. “But we really took over pretty much halfway through the first and we kind of rode that out through the entire game. We had 50 shots through 2 periods. So anytime you do that, you have pretty good chances of winning and scoring a few goals in the process. … It’s one of those games where the whole team just has to put their heads down and kind of power through it and just try and make the most of it the best they can.”
The Huskies topped their offensive performance on Friday with their game on Saturday.
They were able to defeat WIU by a score of 14-2 and were led by hat tricks from Holum and Bilecki. Senior forward Brian Staffeldt and senior defenseman Gregg Jacobson each tallied twice in the tilt. The Huskies also received goals from sophomore defenseman Erik Demmin, junior forward Kyle Luken, Hilton and Saunders. Freshman goaltender Jake Tower made 25 saves in the victory.
“We just needed to play our game and do what we need to do and get out of there and that’s what we did,” Tower said.
“Saturday’s game was basically about the same. We played a full 60 minutes, we got a bunch of power plays and just played an overall good 60 minute game,” Saunders said.
“We started out with a defensive breakdown [on Saturday] and they scored,” Weems said. “It was one of those goals that shouldn’t have happened, which is unfortunate. You feel bad for Tower that that happened to him like that.”
Despite having gone down early in the second contest of the weekend, the Huskies responded appropriately.
“The team answered really well,” Weems said. “We came right back and we scored within the next minute. We pretty much didn’t look back from that point. [It was] another really solid game.”
The next set of games on the slate for the Huskies is 2 road games at Purdue University on January 23 and 24.
“I believe that 2 good practices will for sure be good,” Saunders said. “Hopefully everyone shows up and everyone comes to play. It’s our last roadie of the season so hopefully we can come out with at least 1 of the 2 victories.”
“We need everyone to show up for practice,” Tower said. “We need everyone to try and practice. … And then just come ready to play and we should win.”
“I think we lost to them in overtime last year,” Durrbeck said about Purdue. “We know we can skate with them. We have a stronger team this year so we know we can skate with them. … So I think just bringing in those small things that we worked on [against WIU] into the Purdue games and just really work for a full 60 minutes like we did against Western [will be key].”
“Purdue is going to be a tough game,” Weems said. “We’re really going to have to play well defensively. We need to stand tall in front of JoJo; it helps him out. We got to get lots of shots. Once again, our biggest issue in most of the games we lose is that we don’t get more than 25 shots. If we can get that number up to 30-35, we have a pretty good chance on any given day.”
Friday’s game is set to begin at 10:15 p.m. ET and Saturday’s contest is slated to start at 10:30 p.m. ET. Both contests will be held at Fishers Forum in Fishers, IN.