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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Short-handed Huskies fall in Midland hockey finale

Hockey skates with just 14 players in eighth straight loss
Courtesy NIU Hockey
Junior forward Jay Kliment forechecks a Kent State defender on Sept. 16. Kliment scored the lone goal for NIU in the teams’ 6-1 loss to Midland on Saturday. (Courtesy of NIU Hockey)

FREMONT – As Midland University (3-2, 3-1 MCH) senior forward Trevor Timm celebrated potting his team’s sixth goal of the game late in the third period, the 14 skaters dressed for NIU Hockey (0-6-2, 0-2 MCH) skated back to its bench, taking deep breaths and leaning on their sticks.

Dealing with a plethora of adversity, stemming from multiple injuries and ineligible players, NIU dropped its series finale to Midland Saturday by a final score of 6-1.


Due to NIU’s missing-skater situation, the players that did dress were forced to play more minutes than normal.

The short-handed Huskies stayed within three goals until the final 10 minutes when Midland started to pull away. 

“We’re short-handed right now, so we’re battling,” head coach Brad Stoffers said. “Today, I think we just ran out of gas.” 

The Huskies trailed just 1-0 after the first period, with the only goal coming on a Midland power play.

Junior forward Jay Kliment, who scored the lone goal for NIU, said the first-period penalties didn’t do them any favors with so many missing players. 

“I thought we did good in the first period,” Kliment said. “Then we started taking a couple of penalties, and obviously we have a short bench and not that many guys. So, that didn’t help.”

The Huskie penalty kill successfully halted four of Midland’s six power plays. 


With the 14 Huskie skaters running on fumes, NIU senior goaltender Ben Vutci held down the net and kept the team within three goals until the dying minutes of the game. 

“He (Vutci) played phenomenal,” Kliment said. “We don’t have that many guys. We were tired, especially in the third period. He’s still making incredible saves, keeping us in the game as much as he can.”

Coming into what he knew would be a bad situation with NIU so shorthanded, Vutci said he treated the game the same as normal. 

“Just prepare the same way as you always do,” Vutci said. “You get a ton of shots … kind of bear down and power through it. So, you’ll get tired, but it’s just part of the game. You can rest after.” 

Vutci finished the game stopping 49 of the 55 shots he faced. 


With the team fighting through injuries and ineligible players, Stoffers said the squad needs to adopt more positive habits to find success. 

“It’s just hockey habits,” Stoffers said. “Getting back to the basics and things that make the game easier. We can’t make it hard on ourselves. We got a lot of chips stacked against us.” 

Though the team is still in search of its first win through four weeks, Kliment said battling through a weekend full of adversity showed the heart of NIU Hockey.

“Even though we have so many guys banged up and short bench, we don’t stop playing,” Kliment said. “We give it our all.”

The Huskies finally return home next weekend after three weeks on the road to take on defending MCH champion University of Jamestown Friday and Saturday.

The games will be streamed on the NIU Hockey YouTube channel. 

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