By Kim Wrona
11/12/14 – DeKalb, IL | The DIII Huskies faced Wheaton College in a home-and-home series on November 7 and 8.
The refreshed Huskies, after having a bye-weekend the week before, were able to come out and sweep the weekend by scores of 12-0 and 6-1.
The Huskies started off Friday’s game strong as they scored 19 seconds into the contest as senior forward and team captain Jc Weems put one home. The Huskies extended their lead to 4-0 by the end of the first period with goals from junior forward Tyler Hilton, senior forward Brian Staffeldt and freshman forward Eric Brennan.
The Huskies tacked on 5 more goals during the second period, courtesy of senior forward Kyle Cornier, sophomore forward Brian Donchez, freshman forward Billy Petersen, Hilton and Staffeldt.
The offense continued to roll as Cornier, Petersen and Weems all tallied once again in the third period. Senior goaltender Jessica Stubitsch earned her first shutout of the season with the victory as well.
“Jess played very well,” Weems said. “I don’t know how many shots she had, but I think it was about 22. She played them all real well. I felt defensively we did a good job of not letting them get any quality shots, which is always nice. We at least looked like we had a defense that night against Wheaton, which is good. Our offensive explosion is always nice. It’s nice for everyone to get on the board. It’s real nice to get your mind set right going into the weekend that we can put up a lot of points and our offense is not an issue. It’s nice to know we can score at will against some teams.”
“Jess’s shutout was strong,” sophomore forward Jeremy Bilecki said. “We needed that out of her. It’s good for her to get that. Our offense was really good. It was nice seeing all 4 lines produce. It was nice seeing not the same core people scoring all the time. It was nice seeing different people score and getting good looks.”
“I thought we came out really good,” Staffeldt said. “All 4 lines, we were rolling them and everyone was really productive. Everyone chipped in and did their part. Jess played phenomenal, got her first shutout, so that was good. Our offense came to play and really just took it to them.”
“Jess did a really good job,” goaltending coach Ron Michalek said. “They didn’t have as many quality shots as they usually do against our goalies, but the ones she had, she stopped and played very, very well. Confident. Looked good. Overall, the team played a strong game. I wouldn’t say it was a full 60 minutes, but we kept our heads and everything. Even though through the second period, Wheaton got chippy and just started hitting us because they just couldn’t handle anything we threw at them.”
“Friday’s game was a lot of fun,” Stubitsch said. “I think everyone worked together really well. We moved the puck well. We started working on things as a team that we wanted to do better. We spent a lot of time in their offensive zone and [it was] great defensive coverage that produced the shutout. All around team effort.”
Saturday’s game didn’t feature as much NIU offense, but the team was able to get out to an early lead and never looked back.
Freshman goaltender Jake Tower started in net for NIU while junior forward Brandon Bangert and Hilton scored in the first period to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead going into the sandwich stanza.
Wheaton scored their only goal of the weekend with 11:10 left to go in the second period; it also came on the power play. But the Huskies were able to recover and tack on some more markers. Bangert tallied his second goal of the night with a shot from the right point with 5:45 left in the second period while Bilecki scored on a wrap-around to make it 4-1 NIU.
Cornier and senior defenseman Gregg Jacobson tallied during the final frame to make the final score 6-1 in NIU’s favor.
“Saturday we came out a little crappier, but we still got the sweep; that was good,” Staffeldt said. “We pulled it together and ended up beating them in the end, so it’s always good.”
“I think we started off a little slow,” Stubitsch said. “But then we all worked together and produced the W for the sweep of the weekend.”
“It was a close game until the third, but it was good that we finally pulled away,” Bilecki said. “We could have done better, but it was still a good game. There’s a lot that we can build off of it.”
“The sweep was great,” Michalek said. “Unfortunately, Saturday, [we] came out a little bit slow. … It kind of got a little chippy here and there. Took some stupid penalties throughout, but we came through sometime in the second period, got our heads up and started rolling again and played very well through the third.”
“It’s nice to get a sweep,” Weems said. “We have to expect to beat that kind of team though. It’s a team that if we lost against, it’s just absolutely unforgiveable. We came out a little bit slow on Saturday, as you would expect, kind of playing a team of that caliber. It’s good to see we can turn it on though. The big thing though is we have to continue to play 60 minutes of hockey. We haven’t really done that much this year. I think if we can play 60 minutes of hockey, we’re a tough team to beat against anyone.”
This weekend brings a new challenge on the season for the Huskies as they will participate in the Robert Morris University Showcase at The Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville; they will be playing 3 games in 3 days.
“Hard work. Perseverance. And good nights sleeps,” Stubitsch said about what needs to be done to earn 3 victories this weekend. “We just need to stay focused going into each game and think of each game separately, not the weekend as a whole.”
“Staying conditioned for the whole weekend [is key since we’re] playing 3 games because we’re only used to playing 2,” Staffeldt said. “Just coming to play and getting ready for every game, especially for Indiana because they’re probably going to be the best team we play all weekend.”
“We need to come out strong Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Bilecki said. “We’re going to be tired by Sunday. So, pretty much do the best that we can and having all 4 lines come out and produce just so everyone stays well rested. The biggest thing is don’t just come out thinking it’s an easy win. We have to come out like we’re playing Marquette or one of the better teams we’ll face all year. If we do that, we should be able to do good. To win, we just need to put the puck in the net and keep the defensive zone key.”
“It’s kind of tough,” Michalek said about the 3-in-3. “It depends how well you are throughout the season, if you’ve been working on stamina and everything like that and are prepared for the games. It’s mentally draining, too. They just got to go in one game at a time, 60 minutes each day, and just be strong. It’s tough to do.”
“This weekend is going to be tough just because it’s tiring,” Weems said. “We normally play 120 minutes and now we get to play 180. It’s tough to have to go back-to-back-to-back. The good thing is we do play RMU Black, we do play SIUE, so we know what we’re coming in to. The big question is going to be what is Indiana. We have no idea what we’re coming against Indiana. You can look at them on the ACHA website and they look like they’re a solid team, definitely a team we’re going to have to play 60 full minutes [against]. Forecheck, backcheck, do the whole bit. I think that’s going to be our challenge game of the weekend. If we can come out with a W on that, it’s going to be a real win for the weekend whereas if we just put up 2 wins, it’s going to be as expected. It’ll be nice just to go in, take care of business this weekend, get out of there with 3 wins and pretty much get ready for Thanksgiving.”
The Huskies’ tilt on Friday is set to begin at 3 p.m. as they take on RMU Black at The Edge Ice Arena. Saturday’s contest is slated to begin at 3 p.m. as well. The Huskies’ opponent for Saturday is Indiana University and will be held at The Edge’s John St. rink. Sunday’s game is set to begin at noon and NIU will face Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at the John St. rink.