By Kim Wrona
9/11/2013 – Dekalb, IL Hockey season is finally back for the Northern Illinois University Huskies starting on Saturday, September 14th. The D2 team is slated to lace up the skates at Darien Sportsplex (451 Plainfield Road Darien, IL 60561) at 4:00 pm for a preseason game against the University of Illinois’ D1 team.
The D2 team is looking to have a big season after their inaugural appearance in last season’s ACHA Central Regionals. With 16 returning players from that squad, the chances to repeat the feat and go even farther are real.
“With the core of veterans that we have this season and the addition of our new recruits, we have definitely found the depth that we need,” D2 head coach Chuck Rinaldo said. “I think everyone in the organization has hopes to make a run at the national championship this year. We have the right players to make it happen, we just need to work hard and execute our systems on a consistent basis.”
The Huskies open up the 2013-14 regular season on the road as they take on Missouri State University in back-to-back MACHA conference games on Friday, September 20th and Saturday, September 21st at 7:00 pm.
“We have a very tough schedule this season, which is no different from what we experienced last season as well,” Rinaldo said. “We travel down to Missouri State for our season opener which will be a huge challenge for us right out of the gate. We managed to sweep them at our rink last season and we hope to find a way to do the same thing again this year on their home ice.”
NIU’s home opener isn’t until the following weekend when the Huskies welcome the University of Missouri Tigers into the Fox Valley Ice Arena for back-to-back nights; the home opener on Friday, September 27th is slated to start at 8:30 pm and Saturday, September 28th’s contest is set to begin at 2:00 pm.
For the D3 squad, they have to wait a little longer before they can take the ice for game action since they don’t have any preseason contests. The team opens up the regular season with back-to-back games at Missouri State on September 20th and 21st; the first tilt is scheduled for 9:45 pm and the second is for 3:00 pm. The Huskies find themselves away from the comforts of home for two additional games after the first pair. On Friday, September 27th, the Huskies head up north to Brookfield, Wisconsin to take on Marquette University at 7:30 pm. The next day features a matinee game against MU that starts at 1:00 pm.
“Starting the season on the road for two weeks is especially difficult because it is against two of the strongest teams on our schedule,” said D3 head coach John Lyne. “However, being on the road early really helps the team to gel together early in the season and develop team chemistry that will be very important all season long.”
NIU finally gets to skate on home ice at Fox Valley on Friday, October 4th against Robert Morris University White at 8:30 pm; they take on RMU White again the following day at 5:30 pm.
–On Friday, September 13th, join the Huskies at Fox Valley Ice Arena for a Meet and Greet with the team and to skate on the ice with the team as well. It’s free—something college students especially love to hear. The skate takes place from 7:30-8:30 pm.
–The Huskies will be hosting a Pink in the Rinkweekend on Friday, October 11th and Saturday, October 12th when they take on the University of Illinois at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Susan G. Komen is sponsoring the weekend as the team raises awareness for breast cancer research. The D2 team will be wearing special pink jerseys that will be worn during both games and will be auctioned off after Saturday’s game.